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The rise of the novel

The novel had its precursor in the medieval romance but it rise as a genre as we know it today during the 18th century and in England it was associated with the emerging middle-classes; it dealt with everything that could affect and modify social status and it was mainly intended for a bourgeois public with simple writing that could be understood also by less educated people. The message of the novel was of reward and punishment related to the puritan morality of the middle-classes and the stories aimed to be realistic. The subject of the novel was the bourgeois man with his problems, struggling for survival or social success and the readers were expected to sympathize with him. To strengthen the idea of realism, characters were give contemporary names and they could be divided into two categories: those who believed in reason (e.g. Robinson Crusoe) and those unable to control their passions (e.g. Moll Flanders). Characters were also fitted into referenced temporal dimensions and events often followed in a chronological order. Great importance was also given to the place or setting in which the events were taking place and all this, together with detailed descriptions and the fact that the writer was omnipresent and omniscient helped to make the novels even more realistic.

Novels were produced quickly and in great numbers as on these elements depended the reward the authors would get from the booksellers. The pioneers of the English novel are Defoe and Richardson.

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