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The Novels Portal

Title page of the 1628 edition of Bacon's New Atlantis

A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the Italian: novella for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself from the Latin: novella, a singular noun use of the neuter plural of novellus, diminutive of novus, meaning "new". Some novelists, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Ann Radcliffe, John Cowper Powys, preferred the term "romance" to describe their novels.

According to Margaret Doody, the novel has "a continuous and comprehensive history of about two thousand years", with its origins in the Ancient Greek and Roman novel, in Chivalric romance, and in the tradition of the Italian renaissance novella. The ancient romance form was revived by Romanticism, especially the historical romances of Walter Scott and the Gothic novel. Some, including M. H. Abrams and Walter Scott, have argued that a novel is a fiction narrative that displays a realistic depiction of the state of a society, while the romance encompasses any fictitious narrative that emphasizes marvellous or uncommon incidents.

Works of fiction that include marvellous or uncommon incidents are also novels, including The Lord of the Rings, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Frankenstein. "Romances" are works of fiction whose main emphasis is on marvellous or unusual incidents, and should not be confused with the romance novel, a type of genre fiction that focuses on romantic love. (Full article...)

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The General in His Labyrinth is a novel by the Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez. It is a fictionalized account of the last days of Simón Bolívar, liberator and leader of Gran Colombia. First published in 1989, the book traces Bolívar's final journey from Bogotá to the Caribbean coastline of Colombia in his attempt to leave South America for exile in Europe. In this dictator novel about a continental hero, "despair, sickness, and death inevitably win out over love, health, and life". Breaking with the traditional heroic portrayal of Bolívar El Libertador, García Márquez depicts a pathetic protagonist, a prematurely aged man who is physically ill and mentally exhausted. The story explores the labyrinth of Bolívar's life through the narrative of his memories. Its mixture of genres makes The General in His Labyrinth difficult to classify, and commentators disagree over where it lies on the scale between novel and historical account. García Márquez's insertion of interpretive and fictionalized elements—some dealing with Bolívar's most intimate moments—caused outrage in parts of Latin America when the book was released. Many prominent Latin American figures believed that the novel damaged the reputation of one of the region's most important historic figures and portrayed a negative image to the outside world.

Selected novel quote

  • 'You should learn not to make personal remarks,' Alice said with some severity; 'it's very rude.'
    The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on hearing this; but all he said was, 'Why is a raven like a writing-desk?'
    'Come, we shall have some fun now!' thought Alice. 'I'm glad they've begun asking riddles. — I believe I can guess that,' she added aloud.
    'Do you mean that you think you can find out the answer to it?' said the March Hare.
    'Exactly so,' said Alice.
    'Then you should say what you mean,' the March Hare went on.
    'I do,' Alice hastily replied; 'at least — at least I mean what I say — that's the same thing, you know.'
    'Not the same thing a bit!' said the Hatter. 'You might just as well say that "I see what I eat" is the same thing as "I eat what I see"!'
    'You might just as well say,' added the March Hare, 'that "I like what I get" is the same thing as "I get what I like"!'
    'You might just as well say,' added the Dormouse, who seemed to be talking in his sleep, 'that "I breathe when I sleep" is the same thing as "I sleep when I breathe"!'
    'It is the same thing with you,' said the Hatter, and here the conversation dropped, and the party sat silent for a minute, while Alice thought over all she could remember about ravens and writing-desks, which wasn't much.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

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