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Types of Novels for AP English Literature

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Mar 4, 2011

There are many types of novels you will encounter during your study of English literature. Some novels exhibit several qualities. A few of the most common genres are:

  • Epistolary: These novels utilize the convention of letter writing and are among the earliest novel forms (e.g., Pamela, Dracula, The Color Purple).
  • Picaresque: This early, episodic novel form concentrates on the misadventures of a young rogue (e.g., Huckleberry Finn, Don Quixote, Tom Jones, Candide).
  • Autobiographical: This readily identifiable type is always told in the first person and allows the reader to directly interact with the protagonist (e.g., David Copperfield, Catcher in the Rye).
  • Gothic: This type of novel is concerned with the macabre, supernatural, and exotic (e.g., Frankenstein, Interview with a Vampire, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).
  • Historical: This form is grounded in a real context and relies heavily on setting and factual detail (e.g., A Tale of Two Cities, War and Peace).
  • Romantic: This novel form is idealistic, imaginative, and adventuresome. The romantic hero is the cornerstone of the novel, which often includes exotic locales (e.g., Wuthering Heights, Madame Bovary).
  • Allegorical: This type of novel is representative and symbolic. It operates on at least two levels. Its specifics correspond to another concept (e.g., Animal Farm, Lord of the Flies).

Consider this. Jane Eyre has elements of all these types as do many other novels. List and loosely categorize some of the major novels you've read.

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