Psychological fiction  

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"Georges Simenon wrote more than hundred of "psychological novels" (what he in French referred to as "romans durs"), such as The Strangers in the House (1940), Sunday (1959), or The Blue Room (1964)."--Sholem Stein

"It is ironic that Cervantes's Don Quixote is described as the first novel (an extended work of prose fiction, written in "vulgar Latin", i.e. the people's language), the first modern novel (and the first psychological novel) due to its focus on the psychological evolution of a single character (an antihero) as well as the first postmodern novel (due of its use of self-reflexivity in the second volume)." --Sholem Stein

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A psychological novel, also called psychological realism, is a work of prose fiction which places more than the usual amount of emphasis on inner experience, interior characterization, and on the motives, circumstances, an internal action which springs from, and develops, external action. The psychological novel is not content to state what happens but goes on to explain the why and the wherefore of this action. The study of human character demanded the examination of motives and causes rather than the making of moral judgments. To find the cause of action meant probing into the secrets of individual psychology. In this type of writing character and characterization are more than usually important, and they are considered by detractors as plotless. In some cases, the stream of consciousness technique, as well as interior monologues, may be employed to better illustrate the inner workings of the human mind. Flashbacks may also be featured.

The origins of the psychological novel can be traced as far back as Giovanni Boccaccio's 1344 La Fiammetta; that is before the term psychology was coined. Another avant la lettre example is Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605) by Miguel Cervantes.

The first rise of the psychological novel as a genre is said to have started with the sentimental novel of which Samuel Richardson's Pamela (1740) is a prime example.

In French literature, Stendhal's The Red and the Black (1830) is an early psychological novel; it was proceeded however, by the lesser-known Benjamin Constant's Adolphe (1816) and even earlier by Madame de La Fayette's The Princess of Cleves, dating back to the 17th century.

In Scandinavia, Knut Hamsun's debut-novel Hunger (1890) is an early example of a psychological novel.

See also

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