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Title: lit It spread with the commercial book market that began to provide such reading materials even before the arrival of the first commercial printed histories in the s. The term novel refers back to the production of short stories that remained part of a European oral culture of storytelling into the late 19th century.
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Fairy tales, jokes, little funny stories designed to make a point in a conversation, the exemplum a priest would insert in a sermon belong into this tradition. Written collections of such stories circulated in a wide range of products from practical compilations of examples designed for the use of clerics to such poetic cycles as Boccaccio 's Decameron and Geoffrey Chaucer 's Canterbury Tales — The early modern genre conflict between "novels" and "romances" can be traced back to the 14th-century cycles.
The standard scheme of stories the author claimed to have heard in a round of narrators promised variety of subject matter and it led to clashes of genres. Short romances appeared within the frame tales side by side with stories of the rival lower genres such as the fabliaux. The cycles themselves showed advantages over the production of rival extended epic-length romances.
Romances presupposed a consensus in questions of style and heroism. The cycles shifted the problem of how fictions were to be justified onto the level of the individual storytellers: onto a level the author, Chaucer or Boccaccio, would see as out of his control. They attacked each other if they felt the stories of their opponents had missed their points.
A competition among the genres developed. If one believes the medieval collections, differing tastes of people with different social statuses were decisive; the different professions fought a battle over precedent with satirical plots designed to ridicule individuals of the opposing trades.
A cycle bound rival stories together and it offered the easiest way to keep a critical distance. The pluralistic discourse created here eventually developed into the 17th- and 18th-century debate of fiction and its genres. Much of this original conception of the genre is still alive whenever a short joke is told to make a certain humorous point in everyday conversation. The longer exploits left the sphere of oral traditions with the arrival of the printing press.
The book eventually replaced the story teller and introduced the preface and the dedication as the paratexts in which the authors would continue the metafictional debate over the advantages of genres and the reasons why one published and read fictional stories. The modern distinction between history and fiction did not exist at this time and the grossest improbabilities pervade many historical accounts found in the early modern print market. William Caxton 's edition of Thomas Malory 's Le Morte d'Arthur was sold as a true history, though the story unfolded in a series of magical incidents and historical improbabilities.
Sir John Mandeville 's Voyages , written in the 14th century, but circulated in printed editions throughout the 18th century, [ 27 ] was filled with natural wonders, which were accepted as fact, like the one-footed Ethiopians who use their extremity as an umbrella against the desert sun.
Both works eventually came to be viewed as works of fiction. In the 16th and 17th centuries two factors led to the separation of history and fiction. The invention of printing immediately created a new market of comparatively cheap entertainment and knowledge in the form of chapbooks. The more elegant production of this genre by 17th- and 18th-century authors were belles lettres ; that is a market that would be neither low nor academic. However, it was not accepted as an example of belles lettres.
The Amadis eventually became the archetypical romance, in contrast with the modern novel which began to be developed in the 17th century. The invention of printing led to the commercialization of histories, whether allegedly true or works of fiction. Romances had circulated, prior to this time, in lavishly ornamented manuscripts to be read to an audience. The invention of the printed book created a comparatively inexpensive alternative for the special purpose of silent reading. The principal historical subject matter of chapbooks was abridgements of ancient historians, popular medieval histories of knights, stories of comical heroes, religious legends, and collections of jests and fables.
Literacy spread among the urban populations of Europe due to a number of factors: [ 29 ] Women of wealthier households had learned to read in the 14th and 15th centuries and had become consumers of works of religious devotion; secondly the Protestant Reformation enkindled propaganda and press wars that lasted into the 18th century; finally Broadsheets and newspapers became the new media of public information. Paralleling this expansion in reading, writing skills spread among apprentices and women of the middle classes. Business owners were forced to adopt methods of written book-keeping and accounting.
The personal letter became a favourite medium of communication among better-off 17th-century men and women. Cheap printed histories were, in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially popular among apprentices and younger urban readers of both sexes. This new market for books was disregarded by scholars. The texts were offered with promises of great erudition to an audience that did not know the difference between erudition and the misleading advertisement.
People bought these books because everyone had heard of them. The design of these chapbooks deteriorated and texts were copied with little editing. Standard woodcut illustrations were repeated, often even within a single book, wherever the plot allowed such repetition.
The illustrations began to show peculiar style mixes as the printer's stocks grew: earlyth-century editions of 16th-century titles would mix woodcuts of 16th-century knights in armor with equally crude depictions of 18th-century courtiers wearing wigs. The early modern market, from the s and s, divided into low chapbooks and high market expensive, fashionable, elegant belles lettres.
The Amadis and Rabelais ' Gargantua and Pantagruel were important publications with respect to this divide. Both books specifically addressed the new customers of popular histories, rather than readers of belles lettres. The Amadis was a multi—volume fictional history of style, that aroused a debate about style and elegance as it became the first best-seller of popular fiction. On the other hand Gargantua and Pantagruel , while it adopted the form of modern popular history, in fact satirized that genre's stylistic achievements.
The cheap abridgments openly addressed an audience that did not have the money to buy books with engravings and fine print. The prefaces of the abridgements promised shorter sentences, more action and less reflection, at half the cost. By the s there existed a section of literature scientific books addressing the academic audience and a second market of books for the wider audience. The popular second market developed its own differentiation of class and style. While the lowest strata of chapbooks created an extremely conservative market, its antagonist, the elegant " belles lettres ", showed a particular design aiming at educated readers of both sexes, though not necessarily at academics.
The very term "belles lettres" spoke of the ambition to leave the field of low books and to reach the realm of the sciences, "literature", "les lettres".
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Polite literature, galante Wissenschaften that is sciences addressing both sexes and all readers of taste were the English and German terminological equivalents. The use of French loan words belles lettres marked the international aspect of the development. The new market segment comprised poetry, memoirs, modern politics, books of fashion, journals, and the like.
Autobiographical memoirs, personal journals and prose fiction set the trend in the modern field as the genres that authors could most freely use for experiments of style and personal expression. The evolution of prose fiction needed the elegant market, a market of changing styles and fashions, and it found its central critical debate with the publication of the Amadis de Gaula in the s. Two questions moved into the centre of the debate as Spanish, French and German translations and imitations flooded the European market. Was this what one had to expect of modern prose fiction?
The second problem was connected with the unprecedented public reaction: the Amadis became the object of a widespread reading craze.
Could a market of style and distinguished taste allow such a development? By the Amadis had become the detested epitome of the modern romance. A search for alternative subject matters had begun. The biographies of Greek and Roman historians became the most important source here. Heliodorus ' romances were to be followed in matters of style and composition, [ note 12 ] while the heroes turned from knights to princes and princesses acting now in ancient courts.
The standard plot of adventures gave way to a new plot of love facing intrigues, attacks, rivalry and adversity. A new art of character observation unfolded. The contemporary fashions of courtly conduct could be found nowhere in such perfection as in these seemingly historical romances, and readers used them as models for their own elegant compliments, letters, and speeches.
The genre had much in common with the production of French and Italian operas of the same period. It created a special brand of escapist "Asian" Romances set in the ancient empires of Assyria , Persia, and India. These novels were particularly fashionable among urban female French and German readers of the younger generation, who would dream of sharing the lives and adversities of exotic princesses.vrra.swanndvr.net/6796.php
European Book Cultures
The individual European markets reacted differently on these fashions. The fashion had a particularly short life in England where it began in the s only to end in the s, as these romantic plots fell out of fashion. Stories of witty cheats were an integral part of the European novella with its tradition of fabliaux. Several collections knitted such stories to individual heroes who developed personal and national features. Germany's Till Eulenspiegel was the hero of chapbooks in and outside Germany. The Spanish Lazarillo de Tormes represented a transition from a collection of episodes towards the story of the life of a central character, the hero of the work.