What is it? Novel, Novella or novelette?

29 10 2011


When is a novel not a novel? When it’s a novella

Julian Barnes won this year’s Booker prize with a book that was just 150 pages long. What should we call it?

One of the themes to emerge from the Booker Prize is the length at which a novel becomes a novel. Is Julian Barnes’s award-winner The Sense of an Ending a novel, or a novella? Might it even be a novelette? This issue caught the attention of our own Laura Barnett, who was hard-pressed to find a meaningful distinction. The fact that few people nowadays would describe Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as a novella, even though it has been regarded as such in the past, shows the extent to which the term has fallen into disrepute.

Another slant on the issue of length came last week in an archive piece on HG Wells at 70. “There is a time to write novels and a time not to,” said an uncharacteristically eeyorish Wells. “The novel is not one thing; it is many things. Every age has its own sort of novel. When we are young we delight to play with possibility. We write fantasies and vivid impressions. This is the time for short stories, quick short stories.”

Read full article @ The Guardian

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