The World’s Shortest Novel?: Snoopy’s “It was a Dark and Stormy Night”

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Is a novel defined by its length or by a certain approach? Can we consider a story that is not long a novel if it is epic in scope, representing a range of experiences and emotions? If so, isn’t Snoopy’s It Was a Dark and Stormy Night a novel?

snoopy-it-was-a-dark-and-stormy-nightThroughout Charles Schulz’s famous comic strip Peanuts, everyone’s favorite beagle is working on a novel (or a series of novels?) which begins with the line “It was a dark and stormy night,” probably the most famous opening of any novel, first penned by George Earle Bulwer-Lytton in his 1830 novel Paul Clifford. The pieces of Snoopy’s novel have been compiled and published as a whole, but it is sadly out of print, so here it is for you in its entirety.

Snoopy’s Novel, 12 July 1965

Part I
It was a dark and stormy night. Suddenly, a shot rang out! A door slammed. The maid screamed.
Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon!
While millions of people were starving, the king lived in luxury. Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was growing up.

Part II
A light snow was falling, and the little girl with the tattered shawl had not sold a violet all day.
At that very moment, a young intern at City Hospital was making an important discovery. The mysterious patient in Room 213 had finally awakened. She moaned softly.
Could it be that she was the sister of the boy in Kansas who loved the girl with the tattered shawl who was the daughter of the maid who had escaped from the pirates?
The intern frowned.
“Stampede!” the foreman shouted, and forty thousand head of cattle thundered down on the tiny camp. The two men rolled on the ground grappling beneath the murderous hooves. A left and a right. A left. Another left and right. An uppercut to the jaw. The fight was over. And so the ranch was saved.
The young intern sat by himself in one corner of the coffee shop. He had learned about medicine, but more importantly, he had learned something about life.

THE END

I think it is a novel. The text is shorter than most short stories yet could be considered a novel, even an epic novel, thanks to the author’s attempts to present what György Lukács calls “Great epic’s” potential to “give form to the extensive totality of life.” It was a Dark and Stormy Night does give readers a sense of the “totality of life.” Do you agree? Comment below!

11 thoughts on “The World’s Shortest Novel?: Snoopy’s “It was a Dark and Stormy Night””

  1. First Novel by Dan

    Vol. 1
    Innocent bliss transforms over time to sadness that the frog needed to be let go so that it could be free. New knowledge joys and heartaches develop on the baseball field, in school, and at church as the complex evolves in an ignorant world. Dedication solidifies in the streets and home of Argentina.

    Vol. 2
    Immense joy and excitement comes in the joining of two lives, forever. That joy evolves to immeasurable joy and at times incalculable pain. It starts again the cycle of new adventures with others related to frogs, baseball, school, church, marriage, and birth but this time from a distance.

    Vol. 3.
    There is an effort to try to reconnect with what was lost. Seeking to reach out but finding barriers and difficulties. This results in finding a simple joy in writing a Novel perhaps shorter than the shortest.

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