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By contrast, Ibn Tufail's Hayy ibn Yaqdhan and Ibn al-Nafis' Theologus Autodidactus are works of didactic philosophy and theology.
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.
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.
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".
Epic poetry exhibits some similarities with the novel, and the Western tradition of the novel reaches back into the field of verse epics, though again not in an unbroken tradition.
The epics of Asia, such as the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh (1300–1000 BC), and Indian epics such as the Ramayana (400 BCE and 200 CE), and Mahabharata (4th century BC) were as unknown in early modern Europe as was the Anglo-Saxon epic of Beowulf (c.
Both in 12th-century Japan and 15th-century Europe, prose fiction created intimate reading situations.
Walter Scott made a distinction between the novel, in which (as he saw it) "events are accommodated to the ordinary train of human events and the modern state of society" and the romance, which he defined as "a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvellous and uncommon incidents".