A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction , normally in prose , which is typically published as a book .
The genre has been described as having "a continuous and comprehensive history of about two thousand years," with its origins in classical Greece and Rome , in medieval and early modern romance, and in the tradition of the novella . The latter, an Italian word for a short story to distinguish it from a novel, has been used in English since the 18th century for a work that falls somewhere in between. Ian Watt, in The Rise of the Novel, suggested in 1957 that the novel first came into being in the early 18th century.
Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote (the first part of which was published in 1605), is frequently cited as the first significant European novelist of the modern era.
The romance is a closely related long prose narrative . Walter Scott defined it as "a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents", whereas in the novel "the events are accommodated to the ordinary train of human events and the modern state of society ". However, many romances, including the historical romances of Scott, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, are also frequently called novels , and Scott describes romance as a "kindred term". Romance, as defined here, should not be confused with the genre fiction love romance or romance novel . Other European languages do not distinguish between romance and novel: "a novel is le roman, der Roman, il romanzo." The word " novella " or "novelle" is, however, used, in most European languages, to describe a long short story or a short novel.