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Novel, work of prose fiction longer than the short story and novella. Although there were precursors in ancient Greece and Rome and in medieval Japan, the novel arose primarily in late medieval and early Renaissance Europe. The term come from the Italian novella, a literary form typified by Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron. Francois Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel (1532–52) and Miguel Cervantes' Don Quixote (1605–15) are prototypes of the European novel. In English literature the form was established in the 18th century by authors such as Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, and Henry Fielding. In the 19th century the novel became the dominant form of literature in Europe and the Americas. Major authors included Jane Austen and Charles Dickens (England), Victor Hugo, Gustave Flaubert, Emile Zola, and Honoré de Balzac (France), Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevski, and Ivan Turgenev (Russia), and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Mark Twain (United States). All these novelists told stories of individual characters faced with social and psychological problems that had a universality that went beyond the particular setting. In the 20th century, novelists began experimenting with more varied forms of language, dialogue, and structure. Another development that has enriched the novel in the 20th century was the spread of the form to non-European cultures, such as China, Africa, and the Arab world. Since 1980, the Nobel Prize for literature has been won by novelists from Colombia (Gabriel Garcia Márquez), Nigeria (Wole Soyinka), and Egypt (Naguib Mahfouz).

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