The Guardian | What You Might Not Know about the #Novel

For those partaking in National Novel Writing Month this year, I’ll aim to share some interesting writing tips, motivating quotes, and intriguing articles about novels and their creators. I want to keep your spirits up, be your cheerleader as I am not participating myself this year. The last couple years I’ve missed NaNoWriMo, but I’m aiming to get back in the swing next year! Now, on to the article about the legacy of the novel and how its history may not be as recent as we once thought…


I was misled by my advisers, as Bertie Wooster would say. At university in the early 1970s, I was led to believe the novel originated in England in the 18th century, and no professor told me otherwise as I pursued my PhD in the 1980s. Sometimes Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was mentioned as a prototype, but according to literary dogma the novel experienced a kind of virgin birth with Pamela, Samuel Richardson’s epistolary novel of 1740. But outside the walls of academe, in those alternative classrooms called used bookshops, I kept coming across books that certainly looked like novels but obviously predated Pamela. There was not only Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji, a huge novel written around 1010, but the shorter Tale of the Lady Ochikubo, written a few decades earlier. I picked up the Everyman’s edition of The Story of Burnt Njal, a 13th-century Icelandic fiction that was labeled a “saga” but looked very much like a realistic novel. I came across multivolume Chinese novels from the Ming Dynasty like The Golden Lotus, a sordidly realistic novel from Shakespeare’s time. I read Robert Graves’s White Goddess and was puzzled by his reference to “a novel called The Recognitions” that dated from the 4th century. There were novels in the 4th century?

Read more here: The Guardian | The novel is centuries older than we’ve been told

Good luck on your first day, and may the writing come easy!