Ian Watt, in The Rise of the Novel (1957), argues that the novel’s ‘novelty’ was its ‘formal realism’: the idea ‘that the novel is a full and authentic report of human experience’ (Watt, 2000 (1957), p. 21). Realism is ‘the attempt to represent subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoiding artistic conventions, as well as implausible, exotic and supernatural elements’ (ibid).
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