Novella

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A novella is a text of written, fictional, narrative prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel, somewhere between 17,500 and 40,000 words.

Short story Brief work of literature, usually written in narrative prose

A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a "single effect" or mood, however there are many exceptions to this.

Novel Narrative text, normally of a substantial length and in the form of prose describing a fictional and sequential story

A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally written in prose form, and which is typically published as a book.

Contents

The English word "novella" derives from the Italian novella, feminine of novello, which means "new". [1] The novella is a common literary genre in several European languages.

Literary genre category of literary composition

A literary genre is a category of literary composition. Genres may be determined by literary technique, tone, content, or even length. The distinctions between genres and categories are flexible and loosely defined, often with subgroups.

History

The novella as a literary genre began developing in the Italian literature of the early Renaissance, principally Giovanni Boccaccio, author of The Decameron (1353). [2] The Decameron featured 100 tales (named novellas) told by ten people (seven women and three men) fleeing the Black Death, by escaping from Florence to the Fiesole hills in 1348. This structure was then imitated by subsequent authors, notably the French queen Marguerite de Navarre, whose Heptaméron (1559) included 72 original French tales and was modeled after the structure of The Decameron.

Renaissance European cultural period, 14th to 17th century

The Renaissance is a period in European history, covering the span between the 14th and 17th centuries and marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity. The traditional view focuses more on the early modern aspects of the Renaissance and argues that it was a break from the past, but many historians today focus more on its medieval aspects and argue that it was an extension of the middle ages.

Giovanni Boccaccio Italian author and poet

Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian writer, poet, correspondent of Petrarch, and an important Renaissance humanist. Boccaccio wrote a number of notable works, including The Decameron and On Famous Women. He wrote his imaginative literature mostly in the Italian vernacular, as well as other works in Latin, and is particularly noted for his realistic dialogue which differed from that of his contemporaries, medieval writers who usually followed formulaic models for character and plot.

<i>The Decameron</i> 14th-century medieval allegory by Giovanni Boccaccio

The Decameron, subtitled "Prince Galehaut", is a collection of novellas by the 14th-century Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375). The book is structured as a frame story containing 100 tales told by a group of seven young women and three young men sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the Black Death, which was afflicting the city. Boccaccio probably conceived of The Decameron after the epidemic of 1348, and completed it by 1353. The various tales of love in The Decameron range from the erotic to the tragic. Tales of wit, practical jokes, and life lessons contribute to the mosaic. In addition to its literary value and widespread influence, it provides a document of life at the time. Written in the vernacular of the Florentine language, it is considered a masterpiece of classical early Italian prose.

Not until the late 18th and early 19th centuries did writers fashion the novella into a literary genre structured by precepts and rules, generally in a realistic mode. At that time, the Germans were the most active writers of the novelle (German: "Novelle"; plural: "Novellen").[ citation needed ] For the German writer, a novella is a fictional narrative of indeterminate length—a few pages to hundreds—restricted to a single, suspenseful event, situation, or conflict leading to an unexpected turning point (Wendepunkt), provoking a logical but surprising end. Novellen tend to contain a concrete symbol, which is the narrative's focal point.[ citation needed ]

Realism (arts) artistic style of representing subjects realistically

Realism, sometimes called naturalism, in the arts is generally the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, or implausible, exotic, and supernatural elements. Realism has been prevalent in the arts at many periods, and can be in large part a matter of technique and training, and the avoidance of stylization.

Structure

A novella generally features fewer conflicts than a novel, yet more complicated ones than a short story. The conflicts also have more time to develop than in short stories. Novellas may or may not be divided into chapters (good examples of those with chapters are Animal Farm by George Orwell and The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells) and are often intended to be read at a single sitting, as is the short story, although in a novella white space is often used to divide the sections, and therefore, the novella maintains a single effect. [3] Warren Cariou wrote:

Conflict (narrative) literary element; the opposition main characters must face to achieve their goals

In works of narrative, conflict is the challenge main characters need to solve to achieve their goals.

<i>Animal Farm</i> Novel by George Orwell

Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell, first published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the fable reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union. Orwell, a democratic socialist, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism, an attitude that was critically shaped by his experiences during the Spanish Civil War. The Soviet Union, he believed, had become a brutal dictatorship, built upon a cult of personality and enforced by a reign of terror. In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as a satirical tale against Stalin, and in his essay "Why I Write" (1946), wrote that Animal Farm was the first book in which he tried, with full consciousness of what he was doing, "to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole".

George Orwell English author and journalist

Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist and critic, whose work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.

The novella is generally not as formally experimental as the long story and the novel can be, and it usually lacks the subplots, the multiple points of view, and the generic adaptability that are common in the novel. It is most often concerned with personal and emotional development rather than with the larger social sphere. The novella generally retains something of the unity of impression that is a hallmark of the short story, but it also contains more highly developed characterization and more luxuriant description. [4]

Versus novel

The term novel, borrowed from the Italian novella, originally meant "Any of a number of tales or stories making up a larger work; a short narrative of this type, a fable" and was then many times used in the plural, [5] reflecting the usage as in Decameron and its followers. Usage of the more italianate novella in English seems to be a bit younger. [6] The differenciation of the two terms seems to have occurred only in the 19th century, following the new fashion of the novella in German literature. In 1834, John Lothrop Motley could still speak of "Tieck's novels (which last are a set of exquisite little tales, novels in the original meaning of the word)". [7] But when the term novella was used it was already clear that a rather short and witty form was intended: "The brief Novella has ever been a prodigious favorite with the nation…since the days of Boccaccio." [8] In 1902, William Dean Howells wrote: "Few modern fictions of the novel's dimensions…have the beauty of form many a novella embodies." [9]

Sometimes, as with other genres, the genre name is mentioned in the title of a single work (compare the Divine Comedy or Goethe's Das Märchen ). Austrian writer Stefan Zweig's Die Schachnovelle (1942) (literally, "The Chess Novella", but translated in 1944 as The Royal Game ) is an example of a title naming its genre. This might be suggestive of the genre's historicization.

Commonly, longer novellas are referred to as novels; Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899) are sometimes called novels,[ by whom? ] as are many science fiction works such as H. G. Wells' The War of the Worlds (1897) and Philip Francis Nowlan's Armageddon 2419 A.D. (1928). Less often, longer works are referred to as novellas. The subjectivity of the parameters of the novella genre is indicative of its shifting and diverse nature as an art form.[ citation needed ] In her 2010 Open Letters Monthly series, "A Year With Short Novels", Ingrid Norton criticizes the tendency to make clear demarcations based purely on a book's length:

On a web search engine, input "novels" and "length" and you will find tables of word counts, separating out novels from novellas, even from the esoteric and still shorter "novelette"—as though prose works were dog show contestants, needing to be entered into proper categories. But when it comes to writing, any distinctions that begin with an objective and external quality like size are bound to be misleading. The delicate, gem-like jigsaw of Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Ray [ sic ] could not be more unlike the feverishly cunning philosophical monologue of Albert Camus' The Fall , but both novels are about the same length. [10]

Stephen King, in his introduction to Different Seasons , a collection of four novellas, has called the novella "an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic"; [11] King notes the difficulties of selling a novella in the commercial publishing world, since it does not fit the typical length requirements of either magazine or book publishers. Despite these problems, however, the novella's length provides unique advantages; in the introduction to a novella anthology titled Sailing to Byzantium, Robert Silverberg writes:

[The novella] is one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms...it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book. Thus it provides an intense, detailed exploration of its subject, providing to some degree both the concentrated focus of the short story and the broad scope of the novel. [12]

In his essay, "Briefly, the case for the novella", Canadian author George Fetherling (who wrote the novella Tales of Two Cities) said that to reduce the novella to nothing more than a short novel is like "insisting that a pony is a baby horse". [13]

The sometimes blurry definition between a novel and a novella can create controversy, as was the case with British writer Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach (2007). The author described it as a novella, but the panel for the Man Booker Prize in 2007 qualified the book as a "short novel". [14] Thus, this "novella" was shortlisted for an award for best original novel. A similar case is found with a much older work of fiction: The Call of the Wild (1903) by Jack London. This book, by modern standards, is short enough and straightforward enough to qualify as a novella. However, historically, it has been regarded as a novel.[ citation needed ]

Versus novelette

Dictionaries define novelette similarly to novella; sometimes identically, [15] sometimes with a disparaging sense of being trivial or sentimental. [16] Some literary awards have a longer "novella" and a shorter "novelette" categories, with a distinction based on word count. A range between 7,500 and 17,500 words is common among awards. [17] [18] [19]

Notable examples

This list contains those novellas that are widely considered to be the best examples of the genre, through their appearance on multiple best-of lists. [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] See list of novellas for other notable examples.

Novellas that appear on multiple best-of lists
TitleAuthorPublishedWord countReference
Animal Farm George Orwell 194530,000 [20] [21] [24] [25]
Billy Budd Herman Melville 192430,000 [21] [25]
Breakfast at Tiffany's Truman Capote 195826,433 [20] [21]
A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens 184328,500 [20] [21] [24]
Ethan Frome Edith Wharton 191134,500 [21] [23]
Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad 189938,000 [21] [23] [24] [25]
I Am Legend Richard Matheson 195425,204 [23] [24]
The Metamorphosis Franz Kafka 191521,810 [20] [21] [24] [25]
Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck 193729,160 [20] [24]
The Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemingway 195226,601 [20] [23] [24] [25]
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Robert Louis Stevenson 188625,500 [20] [21]
The Stranger Albert Camus 194236,750 [20] [21] [23]

Word counts

Some literary awards include a "best novella" award and sometimes a separate "best novelette" award, separately from "best short story" or "best novel". The distinction between these categories may be entirely by word count.

AwardGenreOrganisationMinimumMaximumRef
Nebula Award for Best Novelette science fiction or fantasy Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America 7,50017,499 [17]
Nebula Award for Best Novella science fiction or fantasyScience Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America17,50039,999 [17]
Hugo Award for Best Novelette science fiction or fantasyWorld Science Fiction Society7,50017,500 [18]
Hugo Award for Best Novella science fiction or fantasyWorld Science Fiction Society17,50040,000 [18]
Novella Award any genre of fictionScreen School of Liverpool John Moores University and Manchester Metropolitan University’s Department of Contemporary Arts20,00040,000 [26]
RITA Award for Best Novella romance Romance Writers of America 20,00040,000 [27]
British Fantasy Award for Novella fantasy British Fantasy Society 15,00040,000 [28]
The Paris Literary Prize literary fiction Shakespeare and Company 17,00035,000 [29]
Black Orchid Novella Award mystery Nero Wolfe Society15,00020,000 [30]
Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novelette psychological suspense, horror, or dark fantasy 7,50017,499 [19]
Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novella psychological suspense, horror, or dark fantasy17,50039,999 [19]

See also

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to fiction:

Fiction any story or setting that is derived from imagination, can be conveyed through any medium (films, books, audio plays, games, etc.)

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Literature written work of art

Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.

Jason Sanford is an American science fiction author best known for his short story writing. His fiction has been published in Interzone, Asimov's Science Fiction, Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Year's Best SF 14, Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show and other magazines and anthologies. He also founded the literary magazine storySouth and runs their annual Million Writers Award for best online short stories.

Million Writers Award is a short story literary award presented annually by storySouth since 2003. It honors the best online short stories. The award is structured to be egalitarian allowing for anyone to nominate a story including readers, authors, editors and publishers; prize money is donated by readers and writers; and the winners are selected by public vote from a short-list of entries selected by judges.

The Shirley Jackson Awards are literary awards named after Shirley Jackson in recognition of her legacy in writing. These awards for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror and the dark fantastic are presented at Readercon, an annual conference on imaginative literature.

<i>Nebula Awards Showcase 2016</i>

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<i>Nebula Awards Showcase 2013</i>

Nebula Awards Showcase 2013 is an anthology of science fiction short works edited by Catherine Asaro. It was first published in trade paperback by Pyr in May 2013.

<i>Nebula Awards Showcase 2018</i>

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References

  1. "Novella - Definition". Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. Retrieved 7 March 2010.
  2. "Novella: Definition and history". Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  3. Kercheval, Jesse Lee (1997). "Short shorts, novellas, novel-in-stories". Building Fiction. Cincinnati, Ohio: Story Press. ISBN   1-884910-28-9.
  4. Encyclopedia of literature in Canada. Edited by William H. New. University of Toronto, 2000. Page 835.
  5. Entry "novel, n." In: OED Online. March 2019. Oxford University Press. Accessed April 03, 2019.
  6. Entry "novella, n." In: OED Online, Oxford University Press, March 2019. Accessed 3 April 2019.
  7. Letter of 2 June 1834, in: John Lothrop Motley (1889). Correspondence. I. iii. 35.
  8. North American review25 (1827), p. 186.
  9. William Dean Howells (1902). Literature and life. New York, p. 116.
  10. "The Sweetness of Short Novels" by Ingrid Norton, Open Letters Monthly February 2010
  11. King, Stephen (1982). Different Seasons. Viking Adult. ISBN   978-0-670-27266-2.
  12. Silverberg, Robert (2000). Sailing to Byzantium. New York: ibooks, inc. ISBN   0-7861-9905-9.
  13. Fetherling, George. "Briefly, the case for the novella". Seven Oaks Magazine. Archived from the original on 12 September 2012.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  14. "Ian McEwan claims the novella is better than the novel". The Telegraph (HOME»CULTURE»BOOKS»BOOK NEWS). Telegraph Media Group Limited. Telegraph Media Group Limited. 15 Oct 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  15. American Heritage Dictionary (4th ed.): "novella (2)", "novelette"; Merriam-Webster : novelette.
  16. Collins Dictionary : "novella (2)", "novelette (2)"; Macmillan Dictionary (US ed.): "novella", "novelette"; Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary (UK ed.): "novella", "novelette"; Concise Oxford English Dictionary : "novella", "novelette"; Webster's New World Dictionary : "novella", "novelette".
  17. 1 2 3 "Nebula Rules". Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Awards.
  18. 1 2 3 "Constitution" (PDF). World Science Fiction Society. 2009. pp. sec 3.3.2, 3.3.3. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  19. 1 2 3 "Award Rules". Shirley Jackson Awards. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Top 10 Novellas". The Novella Award. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 "These Amazing Classic Books Are So Short You Have No Excuse Not To Read Them". The Huffington Post . 6 December 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  22. "The Rail's Best Books of 2017". The Brooklyn Rail . 13 December 2017. Retrieved 13 Dec 2017.
  23. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Carswell, Beth (2012). "The Best Novellas: Literature's Middle Child". AbeBooks. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  24. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Thorsson, Johann (18 June 2012). "The World's Best Novellas". On Books & Writing. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  25. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Haber, Gordon (29 June 2015). "The 20 Best Novellas Ever Published In The History Of Humankind". Thought Catalog. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  26. "Submission guidelines". 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  27. "RITA Awards : RITA Category Descriptions and Judging Guidelines". myRWA. Romance Writers of America. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  28. "The British Fantasy Awards Constitution". British Fantasy Society. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  29. "Eligibility and conditions". Paris Literary Prize. Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  30. "Black Orchid Novella Award Guidelines, Procedures, and FAQs". Wolfe Pack. Archived from the original on 13 January 2013. Retrieved 20 January 2013.

Further reading