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The fiction is in bookstores the popular literature in its various forms, such as the literary genres novel and narrative .

The fiction emerged from the book trade segment of the Belles Lettres ( French for "beautiful literature"). In the 17th century it emerged between the market for learned specialist literature on the sciences (the Lettres - at that time literature in the true sense of the word) and the market for cheap, mostly very crude books for the "common people" (→  Volksbuch ).

Word history

From the French expression Belles Lettres was established in German the Gallizismus Fiction . In today's French, on the other hand, there is no term that has absolutely the same meaning as "fiction", which is used in German-speaking countries (also in technical terms ). Rather, depending on the context, the following three terms are used:

  • fiction (predominantly; used in German with an almost identical meaning, see fiction ) or
  • littérature générale (literally translated: 'general literature') and
  • in the historical context still belles-lettres


Since the turn of the 18th century, fiction encompassed a broad spectrum of genres for readers with taste, who were less interested in technical scholarship than in the modern and elegant French-fashion publications that were then read across Europe. In The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) , Goethe characterizes a character in a novel with a derogatory undertone: "... but he lacks thorough erudition, like all the belletists". Current political memoirs , novels , journals , poetry and classics of antiquity in modern translations were at the center of the term.

During the 18th century, the term Belles Lettres went out of fashion in the German book market. Alternative German-language terms prevailed. There was talk of gallant sciences around 1700, beautiful sciences in the mid-18th century, beautiful literature on the way into the 20th century. With these successive conceptualizations, the range of genres narrowed step by step to dramas , novels and poems , the core of poetic national literature .

Usage today

The narrowing of the concept of beautiful literature to poetic national literature was particularly vehemently enforced in the German-speaking area, which established a national field of discussion here. This is likely to be responsible for the fact that the German-speaking book trade let the old concept formation survive in order to still be able to name and thus recognize German literature on the international market.

Fiction today still largely encompasses the spectrum that the Belles Lettres described in the early 18th century: memoirs, popular science books, novels - in short, the entire field from which national literature emerged within the international mass market .

Today the term fiction is often used for pure entertainment literature . In the German-speaking book market, the term fiction has been used synonymously since the middle of the 20th century with the term fiction ( literature based on fiction ), which is common in English-speaking countries, as a contrast to nonfiction ( non-fiction ).

Unlike literature , the use of the word fiction is limited to the book trade. There are literary critics but no fiction critics , there is a literary study but no fiction study .

Fiction market segment

In 2013, the German book trade generated total sales of EUR 9.536 billion. The fiction division has a share of 23%. New fiction publications in 2013 were 15,610 titles that came onto the market as first editions.

The market shares within the fiction product group were distributed as follows in 2009:

Web links

Wiktionary: Fiction  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: fiction  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. various dictionary entries
  2. ^ Leo Dictionary. French ↔ German ; Search term: »Fiction« (accessed on April 18, 2013)
  3. Johann Wolfgang Goethe: The sufferings of young Werther . In: Karl Richter u. a. (Ed.): All works according to the epoch of his work. Munich edition . tape 1.2 . Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich / Vienna 1987, Part Two, “on Dec. 24”, p. 249 .
  4. Irmgard Schweikle: Fiction . In: Günther and Irmgard Schweikle (eds.): Metzler Literature Lexicon. Terms and Definitions . 2nd Edition. JB Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-476-00668-9 , p. 46 .
  5. Press release of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association: Buch und Buchhandel in numbers 2014 ; accessed on January 23, 2015
  6. ( Memento from January 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Media Control GfK: Share of sales within the fiction product group in 2009 in percent . In: Michael Roesler-Graichen: Exciting chart millionaires . Börsenblatt des Deutschen Buchhandels from July 15, 2010; Retrieved July 17, 2010