The age of revoltion was a historical time frame that took place between 1775 to 1848 which encompassed numerous social, cultural and political shifts that harboured significant implications on the growth of the development of the novel as a genre. Through the social mechanics of increased living standards, the creation of the middle class, elevated literacy levels and wider book distribution and publication, the novel genre saw indespensible changes which have persisted throughout time. Prior to the age of revolution, novels were written and centered upon themes pertaining to, imagination, philosophy, realism which coincided with what peoples interest were. Throughout the 18th century with the works of Rousseau’s, Laclos, Goethe and Shelley, novels began to adopt a epistolary structure, which garnered wide spread popularity. Previously, chapters of stories were written in newspapers and letters and produced daily. With the emergence of the epistolary form, a greater realism and depth was added towards stories through the differing points of view that would be explored through first person character perspective.
Thus, chapters that used to be produced daily were then transformed into books. Moreover the novels pertained interest in middle class values, shared a distinct correlation with the growth of the middle class during the 18th century. Within the industrial revolution of the eighteenth century, the invention of the printing press further diminished the status quo of the medieval age. With the ascension of the enlightment ideals, the greater public were exposed to a greater range of accessible information, relative to the medieval period where, people were required to contact copyist, so the individual could have access to the book. This era hindered the promulgation of enlightenment ideals, such that the hoi polloi (masses) were denied proper access to sources of knowledge and wisdom. This can be seen through the burgeoning of printed items produced from, 1740 to 1800 with 2000 increasing to 6500 printed items.
Additonally from the 1700 to 1750, there was a 60% literacy increase for men, and a corresponding 40% for women. The French revolution, which involved social and political revolutionary characteristics, influenced the development of the novel as a genre by providing a means from which the status quo could be replaced and new ideals, cultural values, habits and customs could be permeated throughout the masses. French authors were subtle and played no part in the French public domain prior to the revolution. However authors such as, Stéphanie-Félicité Ducrest de Genlis used the novel genre to dispel ideas for the public benefit and to create the foundation from which the people would re shape the institutional and societal barriers of France.
Through the novel genre, the discontent that authors and literalists had with politics and engrained traditions and their opposition to social rules and conventions was expressed. The writers of the revolution predicated their compositions on the necessity of liberation. This was propagated throughout the third estate, consisting of peasants and low wage workers, with most of their money being paid to the king and the first estate and the control of the church, engendering the rejection of the monarch and the prohibition of the church. By the end of the decade, approximately thirty thousand priests had been forced to leave France, and others who did not leave were executed.
The formation of the middle class was precipitated by individuals, understanding and valueing the men and women that worked for them, as well as the importance of raising living standards, so that employees could generate consumption towards household items as well as books. Such visionaries as, Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford laid the foundation upon which the middle class was expanded.
Providing, heightened wages and employment benefits, the middle class were able to experience a newly found leisure time from which they could participate in recreational activities. In conjunction with the social change that was triggered, the middle class argued for better treatment, and the economy prices fell, inducing more household income. The dissemination of a new mantra and class, augmented the social importance of having an education, which involved reading and understanding books.
Taking into account these various factors, the novel as a genre, simultaneously grew and developed in what has become the primary genre of contemporary books. These social, economic and political changes, treated separately were not enough to induce, the development of the novel. Rather it was the presence of circumstances and factors together that inundated the transition of the novel, illuminating its purpose as a social tool as well as a recreational utility.
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