Time for our history lesson with Fjordman. We love this ........................ because without an accurate account of history, you're basically an idiot.
What was the First Novel Fjordman
Human Accomplishment is for the most part an excellent book. However, there is a long debate about what constitutes the “first novel,” both globally and within the European tradition. Murray claims that nothing quite like the European novel developed independently in China, Japan or India until the late nineteenth century when Asians began to adopt it from the Western model.
China and Japan (but not India) had produced works that portrayed common people and gave detailed descriptions of social life, for instance Jin Ping Mei China and Japan (but not India) had produced works that portrayed common people and gave detailed descriptions of social life, for instance Jin Ping Mei or The Plum in the Golden Vase from the late Ming Dynasty (printed in the early 1600s, but based on slightly older written manuscripts), which is sexually very explicit. It still contained elements of the supernatural and the plots were more episodic than in the Western form of the novel. Murray considers this to be true even of Cao Xueqin or Cao Zhan’s (ca. 1715-1763) Dream of the Red Chamber, by universal acclaim one of the great masterpieces of Chinese literature.
The Tale of Genji, attributed to the Japanese noblewoman Murasaki Shikibu or Lady Murasaki (ca. 978-ca. 1014) is by some observers considered the world’s first novel, but Murray believes that the term should indicate something more than a long fictional prose narrative. Japanese literature could achieve great beauty, rivalling anything in the European tradition, but the literary energy was usually directed toward poetry and drama. The drama existed in ancient Greece and in India as well, where the playwright Kalidasa (fifth century AD) was one of the greatest writers of Sanskrit literature, yet at Charles Murray states:
“Perhaps the best evidence that the Western novel never really had a counterpart in China, Japan, and India before their contact with the West comes from the commentary of Chinese, Japanese, and Indian intellectuals after contact with the West. In each case, it was recognized that the Western novel was something unlike anything in their own tradition. The emergence of the novel is important for many reasons, but the most salient is the way in which the novel added a new dimension not just for creating beauty, but for seeking out truths. Writers since Homer had been trying to get at the truth of the human condition in it psychological dimensions, and the greatest writers succeeded spectacularly well even in ancient times. But there was hardly anything at all in the fictional literatures of the world about humans as social creatures. The novel made that inquiry possible, and in so doing made literature a partner with the social and behavioral sciences in understanding how humans and human societies work.”
Some of the great novelists of Western and world literature include Charles Dickens (1812-1870), the popular English novelist of the Victorian era, the US-born British author Henry James (1843(1843-04-15)-1916), the Russian Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) with his masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina, the German-speaking Czech Jew Franz Kafka (1883-1924), famous and infamous for the sense of dark confusion and alienation in his books, the Irish expatriate author James Joyce(1882-1941) with his novel Ulysses from 1922 and the American Ernest Hemingway(1899-1961) with his characteristic masculine style, seen in The Old Man and the Sea. The term “novel” is used about many types of works that differ from each other quite substantially apart from the fact that they are extended works of fiction written in prose. M. H. Abrams elaborates in A Glossary of Literary Terms, Sixth Edition:
“As an extended narrative, the novel is distinguished from the short story and from the work of middle length called the novelette; its magnitude permits a greater variety of characters, greater complication of plot (or plots), ampler development of milieu, and more sustained exploration of character than do the shorter, more concentrated modes. As a narrative written in prose, the novel is distinguished from the long narratives in verse of Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, and John Milton which, beginning with the eighteenth century, the novel has increasingly supplanted. Within these limits the novel includes such diverse works as Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, Charles Dickens’ Pickwick Papers and Henry James’ The Wings of the Dove; Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Franz Kafka’s The Trial; Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and James Joyce’s Ulysses and Finnegans Wake; C. P. Snow’s Strangers and Brothers and Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada or Ardor. The term for the novel in most European languages is roman, which is derived from the medieval term, the romance. The English name for the form, on the other hand, is derived from the Italian novella (literally, ‘a little new thing’), which was a short tale in prose.”
Many people would consider Don Quixote from 1605 by the great Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes as the first European novel, but Murray finds it to be a “transitional work” and believes that the novel had not reached its modern form until the mid-eighteenth century, with the Englishman Samuel Richardson’s (1689-1761) Pamela from 1740 or Henry Fielding’s (1707-1754) Tom Jones from 1749 leading to many similar works into the nineteenth century. Robinson Crusoe (1719-22) and Moll Flanders (1722) by the English writer Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) were early works, and the French writer Marie-Madeleine Pioche de La Vergne (1634-1693), better known as Madame de La Fayette, was an important literary pioneer.
Long narrative romances in prose were written by Greek writers as early as the second and third centuries AD. Typically they dealt with separated lovers who are reunited at the end of the story. Another influential predecessor of the modern novel was the picaresque narrative, which emerged in sixteenth-century Spain. Whether or not Cervantes Don Quixote was “the first European novel” is perhaps debatable, but there is now question that it constituted a major step in the development of this genre. M. H. Abrams again:
“Cervantes’ great quasi-picaresque narrative Don Quixote (1605) was the single most important progenitor of the modern novel; in it, an engaging madman who tries to live by the ideals of chivalric romance in the everyday world is used to explore the general relations of illusion and reality in human life. After these precedents and many others - including the seventeenth-century character (a brief sketch of a typical personality or way of life) and French courtly romances such as Madame de La Fayette’s La Princesse de Clèves (1678) - what is recognizably the novel as we now think of it appeared in England in the early eighteenth century. In 1719 Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe and in 1722 Moll Flanders.…Robinson Crusoe is given an enforced unity of action by its focus on the problem of surviving on an uninhabited island, while both stories present so convincing a central character, set in so solid and detailedly realized a world, that Defoe is often credited with writing the first ‘novel of incident.’ The credit for having written the first English ‘novel of character,’ or ‘psychological novel,’ is almost unanimously given to Samuel Richardson for his Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded (1740).”