The literature of a society is like a mirror of it. It reflects the image of time during which it came into being. The novel is such a form of literature that perfectly encapsulates that. It is a long narrative in literary prose, which interlinks multiple characters through different plots.
There are various types of novels that have come into being since the time it began-
The Prose Romances
During the 13th century, romances were written quite often. It was the genre that was more often written about in verse than prose, but it is one of the earliest forms of the novel. These novels include themes of chivalry, knighthood, and other fantasy elements. Bacon’s The New Atlantis, Sidney’s Arcadia, Robert Greene’s Pandosto are a few examples.
The novel initially came into being through the travelogues that were prominent during the early age. They contain stories of adventures and voyages of travels often to uninhabited islands, often with peculiar residents. Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is a famous classic.
The Gothic Novel
The word ‘Gothic’ is derived from ‘Goths’ which is used for a Germanic Tribe. This genre of the novel consists of supernatural elements with dark, eerie and cold settings. It induces feelings of fear, horror, and anxiety in the reader. Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole and The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliff are some examples.
The Picaresque Novel
The word ‘picaresque’ is derived from ‘picaro’ meaning rogue or rascal. This sub-genre of prose centers around a roguish hero belonging to, usually, the low social class. It includes his dealing with everyday events with wit and these events are often satire on the present society.
The Epistolary Novel
This kind of novel derives its plot from a series of documents that can be letters or diary entries or some newspaper clippings, etc. This form has become a famous choice for writers of the present age. Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Julie by Jean-Jacques Rousseau are some notable examples.
The Domestic Novel
As the title suggests, this kind of novel centres around the daily on-going lives of the average middle-class families. Their celebrations, troubles, etc. form the major plotline of the novel. Jane Austen’s Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice are some significant works under this sub-genre.
The Historical Novel
This kind of novel centers around a significant period of history and attempts to convey the kind of society that existed. Their socio-political conditions, manners etc. are drawn to reality. It may center around a fictitious or real figure of that century. Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace are some important works of this genre.
The Regional Novel
This genre of novel deals with a specific geographical location and deals with the culture and living of that region. R.K Narayan’s Malgudi Days is a famous example.
The Psychological Novel
As the title suggests, this kind of novel relies heavily on the workings and state of the protagonist’s psyche. It incorporates elements of action, thriller, and mystery. The Tale of Genji is an 11th-century novel written in Japan and considered the first psychological novel that was ever written.