“The Novel Comes of Age” aims to discuss the importance of conversation as Anna Laetitia Barbauld instantiates it in her Lessons for Children and Hymns in Prose for Children and in Evenings at Home, which she and her brother John Aikin jointly authored. As Barbauld lays out her account of the novel in her early treatment of the novel as a genre, she identifies the prominence of conversation as its distinctive feature. Exchanges—and particularly exchanges that take the form of riddles and solutions—suggest how the novel both documents the movements of consciousness and establishes a realism more reliant on dialogue than on thick description of setting.

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