This article positions the eighteenth‐century novel alongside contemporary developments in the modeling of complex systems, including Leonhard Euler's solution to the Königsberg bridge problem and William Hogarth's serial engravings. Unlike studies that apply network theory to literary forms like the early novel, it instead identifies a strain of network thinking in the arts characteristic of the British eighteenth century. At this junction between network‐style thinking and the rise of complex forms of affiliation in the emerging middle classes, art forms appear that this article risks calling the “graphic” novel. While we generally think of the novel's rise as paralleling the development of depth psychology or modern individualism, this account of the novel instead forges an argument for its development as a means of cataloging the complex systems of relationships characteristic of the “middling sort.” Its exemplary author is William Hogarth, whose Marriage A‐la‐Mode offers a signal instance of the forms of network‐style visualization seeking to make sense of the urban everyday, and whose Analysis of Beauty includes a surprisingly thorough account of the network‐like aesthetics that characterize midcentury literary form.

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