It is interesting that the question, ‘What is a novel?’
has come up in my marketing research. When I think of a novel, I think of a special type of book. A book which is not merely mass produced for the market but is literary in nature, that has stood the test of time, or is of a high enough quality to be admired into the future. It will be noteworthy due to its writing style, or perhaps its characters or portrayal of a certain time in history. It will have a compelling plot that takes the reader on a rewarding journey. It can be considered a work of art.
An intriguing article was published in ‘The Age’ newspaper recently, ‘A lot to learn from classics’, by Ann Rennie, June 8, 2015. In this article, Ms Rennie argues that, while contemporary cultural works of art have value, they only do in the context of the rich heritage of written work that should remain part of our modern day educational curriculum. She maintains that the classics, being passed down over the generations, have a binding effect over time, and successfully dignify and decode the human experience. Looking beyond the superficial, we can be nourished and sustained by these works of art that continue to shed great light on the human condition and reveal the true glory of language.
It is interesting to note that Ms Rennie also makes the point that these works do need to be updated and made relevant and resonant for each generation. Indeed, it must be the natural desire to do this very thing and its success that sustains a book in the consciousness of the world such that it becomes a classic novel. Christopher Vogler may argue that the very essence of a story has some eternal nature that naturally sees it being sustained and reinvented over time. Vogler’s complementary take on ‘story’ sheds interesting light on what is a novel. Likewise, Scott Norton’s view is informative when writing a book…