Ian Watt

The Rise Of The Novel

The Rise Of The Novel

Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding


This is the story of a most ingenious invention: the novel. Desribed for the first time in The Rise of The Novel, Ian Watt's landmark classic reveals the origins and explains the success of the most popular literary form of all time.

In the space of a single generation, three eighteenth-century writers -- Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding -- invented an entirely new genre of writing: the novel. With penetrating and original readings of their works, as well as those of Jane Austen, who further developed and popularised it, he explains why these authors wrote in the way that they did, and how the complex changes in society – the emergence of the middle-class and the new social position of women – gave rise to its success. Heralded as a revelation when it first appeared, The Rise of The Novel remains one of the most widely read and enjoyable books of literary criticism ever written, capturing precisely and satisfyingly what it is about the form that so enthrals us.