Definition of Novella

In literature, a novella is a type of prose fiction, which is shorter than full length novels and longer than short stories. It originates from an Italian word “novella“, which means “new.” It is a well-structured yet short narrative; often satiric or realistic in tone. It usually focuses on one incident, or issue with one or two main characters and takes place at a single location.

Difference between Novella and Novel

Novellas have less pages and words than that of novels. The more obvious difference is that novellas have fewer subplots and conflicts than full length novels. The main narrative of a novella resembles with a straight line and does not use complicated and indirect plot lines, back stories, and multiple points of views. Unlike novels, novellas usually do not have chapters. It is mostly concerned with emotional and personal development of the character rather than dealing with a larger social sphere and events that usually takes place in one place or location.

Examples of Novella in Literature

Example # 1

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness is a strictly controlled novella, with a classic status, describing a story of late nineteenth century about imperialistic and colonialist process. This novella focuses on the search of the central character, Kurtz, who goes too far for exploitation of the natives for the sake of an ivory trade. Conrad’s readers plunge deeper into the horror of darkness to see what happened after the invasion of the Europeans.

Example # 2

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw is a good example of a classic novella. It is, in fact, a ghost story that challenges an easy interpretation. The story is about a governess living in a remote house, taking care of two kids, who are horrified by former dead employees. However, no one knows the truth. The story is filled with complexities such as its central issue is the reliability of the narrator, who tells this story. This story can be said a self-conscious and subtle exploration of a traditional horrible domestic theme about Victorian culture, drenched in social and sexual unease.

Example # 3

Billy Budd by Herman Melville

Billy Bud is a novella that tells the story of a tragic incident happens at sea. This is an adaptation from a true occurrence. The story is a parable relating good and evil, nautical recasting of Fall, a reflection on political governance and justice, and finding reality of three persons trapped in a dangerous triangle. Billy is an innocent and handsome, Claggart a cruel tormentor, and third one is Captain Vere, who needs to judge the conflict going on between them. The author has interpreted this narrative in Biblical terms, used Christian allegory, and represented male homosexual desires and what mechanisms are to be chosen to prohibit this desire.

Example # 4

Death in Venice by Thomas Mann

Death in Venice is a wonderful classic novella. It is an amazingly condensed story about the relationship between life and art and life and death. Venice sets background of this story. It is based on a renowned German writer, who is following unusual routines, falling for a young lad, and getting trapped in a slight downward twist of indulgence. The construction of this novella follows the framework of Greek tragedy in which author has used unity of form, motives and themes superbly.

Example # 5

Seize the Day by Saul Bellow

This narrative concentrates on one man, Tommy Wilhelm, and just one day of his life. He is a fading charmer, separated from his family, who starts reckoning and feels scared. Although he is in his forties, he retains boyish impetuousness, which brings him to the brink of havoc. During the course of a climatic day, Tommy reviews all his past mistakes. Some people consider it a short story. However, if looked in depth, it shows a strong sense of unity.

Function of Novella

Novellas are the richest and most rewarding forms of literary genres, because this genre allows an extended development of characters and themes than a short story does, without making detailed structural demands of a complete book. Thus, a novella provides a detailed and intense exploration of the topic, providing both the complete focus of a short story and a broad scope of a novel. Since novellas have ideal short length, they are considered a perfect source for silver screen and film adaptations.

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