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Novels speak about human life in relation to the norms and values that orient them. Ideography, which consists in first selecting a set of values and then inventing examples that embody them, was the most frequent way of building novels before the eighteenth century. Later, realist writers focused less on making abstract values visible than on portraying the surrounding world. First they were eager to grasp the customs and social structures that organize it, but as time went by, more recent novel writers began to suspect that what one actually sees might well be linked to enigmatic, foggy inner landscapes.