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Urbanization and the spread of printed books in Song Dynasty (960–1279) China led to the evolution of oral storytelling into fictional novels by the Ming dynasty (1368–1644).

Parallel European developments did not occur until after the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1439, and the rise of the publishing industry over a century later allowed for similar opportunities.

750–1000 AD), which was rediscovered in the late 18th century and early 19th century.

Other non-European works, such as the Torah, the Quran, and the Bible, are full of stories, and thus have also had a significant influence on the development of prose narratives, and therefore the novel.

A precise definition of the differences in length between these types of fiction, is, however, not possible.

The requirement of length has been traditionally connected with the notion that a novel should encompass the "totality of life." Although early forms of the novel are to be found in a number of places, including classical Rome, 10th– and 11th-century Japan, and Elizabethan England, the European novel is often said to have begun with Don Quixote in 1605.

In this sense, Hayy ibn Yaqdhan would be considered an early example of a philosophical novel, Hayy ibn Yaqdhan, with its story of a human outcast surviving on an island, is also likely to have influenced Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), because the work was available in an English edition in 1711.A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, normally written in prose form, and which is typically published as a book.The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the Italian novella for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself from the Latin novella, a singular noun use of the neuter plural of novellus, diminutive of novus, meaning "new".The novel constitutes "a continuous and comprehensive history of about two thousand years", with its origins in classical Greece and Rome, in medieval and early modern romance, and in the tradition of the Italian renaissance novella.(Since the 18th century, the term "novella", or "novelle" in German, has been used in English and other European languages to describe a long short story or a short novel.) Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji, an early 11th-century Japanese text, has sometimes been described as the world's first novel, but there is considerable debate over this — there were certainly long fictional works much earlier.

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