The Rise of the Novel is one of the best-known, most commonly taught, and enduringly satisfying concepts in literary criticism. Its classic formulation, in Ian Watt’s seminal The Rise of the Novel (1957), locates this process in eighteenth-century England as the effect of a number of social and intellectual developments that resulted in the stylistic innovation of formal realism. This study will answer a number of questions. Why do we locate the rise of the novel in the eighteenth century? Why in England (or, more properly, Britain)? By when had the novel finished rising? What were the historical conditions that made the novel possible? What formal features took shape as the novel developed? And what criticisms has Watt’s ‘rise’ model received?
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