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Beginning its life as the sensational entertainment of the eighteenth century, the novel has become the major literary genre of modern times. Drawing on hundreds of examples of famous novels from all over the world, Marina MacKay explores the essential aspects of the novel and its history: where novels came from and why we read them; how we think about their styles and techniques, their people, plots, places, and politics. Between the main chapters are longer readings of individual works, from Don Quixote to Midnight's Children. A glossary of key terms and a guide to further reading are included, making this an ideal accompaniment to introductory courses on the novel.