The evolution of the French novel
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The novel has existed in some guise always. Its most primitive form must have been the narrative anecdote, apologue, short story. After the advent of the professional minstrel or jongleur, it must have become differentiated by its length from the shorter styles. It did not exist as a definite type of literature until that apparently unimportant principle of length had set it apart from the rest of fiction in technical requirements and in choice of subject-matter. It is in view of these and similar considerations that I have begun my account of the French novel with the chansons de geate, --the first French narratives of which we have knowledge that can be classified as novels. Of course, the selection of the date represented by the cansons de geste is in a measure purely a matter of convenience, and is not conditioned by any absolute necessity. The point of departure which I have chosen seems to me to offer the largest number of concrete advantages in a study of the novel written in the French language.