Is a novel defined by its length or by a certain approach? According to Wikipedia, Snoopy’s It was a Dark and Stormy Night is a novel because of certain perspective on life, an attempt to present a “totality of life.” It qualifies as metafiction, because it exposes conventions of the novel, namely an epic treatment of life.
From the Wikipedia article on the novel: Snoopy’s novel It Was A Dark And Stormy Night which followed the 1965 cartoon in 1971 proves that the requirement of length is actually secondary to the requirement of a certain perspective on life – which Snoopy can easily offer in 214 words:
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.
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
The text is shorter than most short stories yet definitely a novel thanks to the author’s attempts to risk what Lukács had seen as the “Great epic’s” potential to “give form to the extensive totality of life.” The requirement of length has been traditionally connected with the notion that epic length performances try to cope with the “totality of life”. The novella is by contrast focused on a point, the short story on a situation whose full dimensions the reader has to grasp in a complex process of interpretation.