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The novel emerged in several crucial contexts. The first was the expansion of written material in general, facilitated by technological advances and the relaxation of censorship in the seventeenth century. Another context was the growing urban middle class, with increasing wealth and sophisticated tastes, that created a demand for more reading material. Another context was the flowering of literary realism, a staple of novels that was a departure from the romances that previously characterized European literature. This form owed its origins to scandalous depictions of court life, especially in France, that made their way to England, and fiction writers began to see the value in portraying events realistically. In fact, early English novelists distinguished themselves from other writers by not only attempting to portray real world concerns (even if, as in the case of Daniel Defoe and others, they did so through fantasy) but by actually claiming that their stories were true. Another important context was the rise of journals and newspapers, some of which, including the Spectator and the Tatler, engaged in political commentary and satire, others of which delved into literary criticism. The style of writing, more than the content, influenced many contemporary authors.
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