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The Devil's Dictionary:    

Definition of Novel

  NOVEL   noun
A short story padded.  A species of composition bearing the same relation to literature that the panorama bears to art.  As it is too long to be read at a sitting the impressions made by its successive parts are successively effaced, as in the panorama.  Unity, totality of effect, is impossible; for besides the few pages last read all that is carried in mind is the mere plot of what has gone before. To the romance the novel is what photography is to painting.  Its distinguishing principle, probability, corresponds to the literal actuality of the photograph and puts it distinctly into the category of reporting; whereas the free wing of the romancer enables him to mount to such altitudes of imagination as he may be fitted to attain; and the first three essentials of the literary art are imagination, imagination and imagination.  The art of writing novels, such as it was, is long dead everywhere except in Russia, where it is new.  Peace to its ashes -- some of which have a large sale.

Devil's Dictionarydefinition from:
The Devil's Dictionary
by Ambrose Bierce, 1911


Last updated: 9/3/2011 12:48:30