Fictional prose narrative of considerable length and some complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience through a connected sequence of events involving a group of persons in a specific setting. The genre encompasses a wide range of types and styles, including picaresque, epistolary, gothic, romantic, realist, and historical novels. Though forerunners of the novel appeared in a number of places, including Classical Rome and 11th-century Japan, the European novel is usually said to have begun with Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote. The novel was established as a literary form in England in the 18th century through the work of Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, and Henry Fielding. The typical elements of a conventional novel are plot, character, setting, narrative method and point of view, scope, and myth or symbolism. These elements have been subject to experimentation since the earliest appearance of the novel. Compare antinovel. See also novella; short story.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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