Novels Speak Reality: Ivanhoe, An Example
Stories have been the source of moral lessons and entertainment, as far as the humankind of all the time, is concerned. The use of story- telling existed from the time immemorial. Stories appeared in the form of ballads and epics, in the ancient time, but later it took the shape of short and long fictions. The long fictions or novels varied in its theme and size. They are divided into many genres according to its subject matter- Gothic, Picaresque, Historical etc. The Ballad is nothing but a short story in verse. Its subjects are simple and memorable like adventure, love, war and the life etc. An Epic is a long tale in verse with famous heroes for its main characters. Iliad and Odyssey are examples. These stories gave the reader enjoyment and certain life-related ‘tips’. Hayden White, an American historian says, “the aim of the writer of a novel must be the same as that of the writer of the history”. Historians and Novelists wish to provide a verbal image of ‘reality’. A novelist may produce reality indirectly but this is meant to correspond to some sphere of human experience. He desires to pass the merits and demerits of such experience onto the readers, to enhance a better vision of life. Novelists are free to use fictitious characters and situations for the readers’ entertainment. Stories took its present prose form later in the middle ages. Decameron, a collection of stories by Boccaccio, was published in 1350. It deals with stories told by a group of people affected by Black Plague. They used these stories to get mental relief from the pandemic. ‘Canterbury Tales’ of Geoffrey Chaucer also, is telling the life-related stories by some pilgrims to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury. All these show that men were, from the early ages itself, used to tell stories to recollect the past and go forward with lessons of reality for a better life. Actually these stories are ‘historical facts’ blended with the imagination of the writers.
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