The Novella: A Study of the Short Novel as a Literary Form

Publication Year



Novella, novel, literature, literary criticism, English


Comparative Literature | English Language and Literature | Fiction


To define a literary form is as impossible as to define the individuals who created it. However, the short story and the novel have been standardized, like the violin and cello, to the extent that certain characteristics are considered essential to each of these forms. The short story is described as a brief narrative presenting one unified impression and ranging in length from 1,000 to 10,000 words. The novel is defined as a long narrative, usually of 90,000 to 120,000 words, tolerating slowness of movement, fullness of detail, and completeness of explanation.

On the other hand, those narratives which fall between the short story and the novel, like the viola, have remained undefined. They float as islands between the two established forms. What of such stories as The Old Man and the Sea (30,400 words) and The Red Badge of Courage (55,000 words)? Are they simply overgrown short stories and under-developed novels, or do they represent a third and independent narrative form? It is the purpose of this study to answer these questions.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

English: Literature and Writing

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