Story with a compact and pointed plot, often realistic and satiric in tone. Originating in Italy during the Middle Ages, it was often based on local events; individual tales often were gathered into collections. The novella developed into a psychologically subtle and structured short tale, with writers frequently using a frame story to unify tales around a theme, as in Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. The term is also used to describe a work of fiction intermediate in length—and sometimes complexity—between a short story and a novel. Examples of novellas include Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Notes from the Underground (1864), Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1902), Thomas Mann's Death in Venice (1912), and Henry James's The Aspern Papers (1888).

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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