The rising status of the novel

Emma by Jane AustenIn the early decades of the nineteenth century, the novel began to rise in status.

  • Sir Walter Scott, the leading novelist of his time, added a new seriousness of purpose to historical fiction
  • in 1816, Scott reviewed Emma by Jane Austen, hailing it as a triumph of a new domestic realism, combining entertainment with moral purpose
  • as the century progressed, the novel's capacity to address the concerns of a rapidly changing society began to be recognized
  • fiction, with its broad social appeal was thought especially appropriate in the context of rapid industrialization and urbanization
  • the realist novel appealed to the contemporary appetite for complex narratives, which again answered to issues faced by an evolving society
  • it also appealed to a taste for varied entertainment: the length and scope of the novel enabled it to encompass comedy, romance and tragedy as part of its treatment of serious issues.
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