The novel is a prose narrative of considerable length meant to be read and not for enactment like drama. It has been called the ‘pocket theatre’, for it has all the elements of a play minus the visual. It has its origin in the medieval romance which is a fantastic tale of love and adventure. It is more rallies defined as long narrative in prose ‘detailing the actions of the fictitious people’.
To Meredith it as ‘summary of actual life.’ It is a very effective medium for the portrayal of human thought and action. The first requirement for a good novel is a good story, which shall give the reader ‘surprise and ignition.’ Surprise means ‘novelty’ or ‘news value’. Recognition means the stirring of memory.
They be based on ‘physical realism’, i.e., portrayal of surface facts. The novels of Lawrence are such, (hen there is reporting on lives, it is ‘biological realism.’ Vanity Fair and The Grapes of Wrath is end on that realism. Portrayal of man’s inner responses, emotions, fantasies, sentiments, dreams ‘psychological realism.’ The best example is Joyce’s Ulysses.
Characterization is significant and it goes a long way in producing the desired effect. It involves lath external and internal aspects. The external is conduct, which guides the action of the character send leads him into situations. The internal is the character’s thoughts and feelings in the given situate- if.
If there is an interaction between the external and the internal nature, the character grows making (’round.’ The revelation of the inner character is often the most important task before a novelist.
The novel acquired its modern form in the eighteenth century with Richardson’s Pamela or Virtue warded. Henry Fielding gave it an enviable place with his Joseph Andrews. Goldsmith made it mastic with The Vicar of Wakefield.
There was further refinement of the novel during the nineteenth century. Jane Austen centered her ells on family and social evils. Walter Scott made it historical. Dickens used the novel as a platform for social reform. Thackeray made it the novel of ideas. Charles Kingsley wrote the political novel.
The spheres of the modern novel are immense. It takes everything in and rejects nothing. The darn novelist is born when ‘publicly shared principle of selection and significance is no longer felt to exist, can no longer be depended on. The reasons for this break down are related to new ideas in ethics, psychology and many other matters as well as to social and economic factors.’ The modern (novelist reflects the complexity and chaos of the modern society.
In Approaches to the Novel John Calmer points out that the novel is ‘a late developer in literary [schools, and, like all late developers, it has proved something of a problem child.’ It feeds on ‘meanness, dirt and sexuality.’ It ousted all other forms in popularity in the nineteenth century developing into a huge baggy monster’ which Henry James disliked. E M. Forster also dwells on the expanding [nature of the modern novel and says, ‘expansion, that is the idea the novelist must cling to. No completion. No rounding off, but opening out.’
H.G. Wells points out that the modern novel discusses a variety of problems, and says, ‘So far as I see it is the only medium through which we can discuss a variety of problems which are being raised in such bristling multitude by our contemporary social development.’ To him the novel ‘is to be the social mediator, the vehicle of understanding, the instrument of self-examination, the parade of morals, and the exchange of manners, the factory of customs, the criticism of laws and institutions and the social dogmas sand ideas.’