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A fictional tale in prose, intermediate in length and complexity between a short story and a novel, and usually concentrating on a single event or chain of events, with a surprising turning point. Joseph Conrad's ‘Heart of Darkness’ (1902) is a fine example; Henry James and D. H. Lawrence also favoured the novella form. The term comes from the Italian word novella (‘novelty’; plural novelle), which was applied to the much shorter stories found in Boccaccio's Decameron (1349–53), until it was borrowed at the end of the 18th century by Goethe and other writers in Germany, where the novella (German, Novelle) in its modern sense became established as an important literary genre. In France it is known as the nouvelle. See also conte, novelette.

Subjects: Literature — Early Modern History (1500 to 1700).

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