A GLOSSARY OF LITERARY TERMS. LITERARY DEVICES. Alliteration: The repetition of initial consonant sounds used especially in poetry to emphasize. of a literary handbook as a dictionary of terms, defined singly, makes dull reading count new publications in literature, criticism, and scholarship, and to take. The Routledge Dictionary of Literary Terms is a twenty-first century update of Roger with new definitions of current terms and controversies, this is the essential.
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Figures of Speech. This term traditionally referred to such literary devices as simile, metaphor, and personification. Literary the- orists today refer to figures of. ENGLISH DEPARTMENT. Glossary of Common Literary Terms. ♢ Allegory: an allegory is a narrative in which the characters often stand for abstract concepts. An. Literary Devices p. 1 of Literary Devices and Terms. Literary devices are specific language techniques which writers use to create text that is clear, interesting.
Rather than operating on logic or literalness, figurative language makes unique connections based on connotation, sound, and construction of words and phrases. The importance of Figurative Language Figurative language creates connections between unlike things which have never been considered before.
It encourages complicated, creative, and poetic thought processes which give rise to beautiful, strange, and unique conceptions. Figurative language allows writers to transcend logical and typical bounds of thinking in order to present things in a new and meaningful way. When to use Figurative Language Figurative language is a chief component of poetic language as used in prose, poetry, speeches, and songs. Because figurative language is not literal, it should not be used in compositions which are meant to be taken literally, such as scientific and mathematic manuals or textbooks.
Common Terms Metaphor A metaphor is a direct and vivid comparison between two things usually considered distinct or unrelated. Metaphors discover the connections between unique things and emphasize their similarities poetically without being taken literally.
Here are a few examples of metaphor: Her smile is the sun. Hyperbole Hyperbole is a remarkably exaggerated statement or idea meant to be taken figuratively rather than literally.
Hyperbole exaggerates certain elements of ideas or things for comedic or dramatic effects. Plot and Character Devices A story is not a story without a plot and characters. Things must happen, and they must happen to interesting people who are flawed, capable of change, and active in their world. Plots are not always simple or linear, though, and characters are elements of a story which may be built, developed, and complicated.
Novelists, poets, journalists, filmmakers, and others use numerous elements in making a compelling, interesting, and believable story. The importance of Plot and Character Devices Plot and character devices reveal how complicated compositions can be with a variety of necessary elements that piece the story together. Stories in any form require a variety of plot and character devices to shape their development and supply their meaning. When to use Plot and Character Devices Plot and character devices are elements of the story which could be told in many forms including poetry, prose, playwriting, song, television, film, and others.
Common Terms Flashback A flashback is a moment in which the linear story is interrupted and launched to an event that occurred in the past. Flashbacks are used to provide more information about the present and to further develop plots and characters in a way that is more interesting and complicated than a simple chronological plot. Here is an example of flashback: A man is shopping when he sees a woman at the end of the aisle. The story flashes back, showing that he previously had a relationship with her, a relationship that ended badly.
He swiftly turns around and enters a different aisle, avoiding her sight. This flashback shows us that the woman in the store is important to the man, as she was an important person in his past. This is the most dramatic, meaningful, and suspenseful moment in the story.
Here is an example of the climax in a story: A boy has been shipwrecked and has struggled to survive on a desert island. When a plane flies over him, he is prepared with a large fire burning.
The plane circles back and lands on the island, where he is at last rescued.
Sound and Rhythm The way we word things can create rhythm, musicality, and poetry for the reader or listener. Poetry in particular operates on syllable counts, arrangement of lines, usage of certain hard or soft sounds, and pattern-making with rhyme and other devices.
Soft s sounds can create calm and smoothness, whereas hard k sounds create chaos and harshness. A variety of sound and rhythm devices take advantage of connotative noises and the feelings they evoke in the audience.
Sound and rhythm create powerful poetry, prose, speeches, and songs. The importance of Sound and Rhythm Sound and rhythm appeal to us just as naturally as heartbeats, rain on the roof, and the shuffle of feet on the sidewalk do.
Rhythm provides soothing and meaningful repetition and emphasis in prose and poetry. Sound, on the other hand, is connotative of numerous feelings from anger to sadness based on arrangement of vowel and consonant sounds. When to use Sound and Rhythm Sound and rhythm can be used in all compositions from poetry and song to prose and speechmaking to film and television dialogue.
Poetic emphasis on sound and rhythm is typically artistic, so it should not be emphasized in more serious and logical compositions such as formal essays or textbooks. Common Terms Alliteration Alliteration is the repetition of a certain sound at the beginning of successive words or phrases.
Literary Devices & Terms
Alliteration is used to create rhythm through repetition and to evoke emotion through connotations attached to certain sounds. Here are a few examples of alliteration: Sarah swam smoothly and silently across the sound. Kathy creates crazy and chaotic chants. Bret brought bundles of bread to the bakery. Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia refers to words which sound like that which they describe.
Onomatopoeia creates a vivid reading experience, as words are automatic forms of sound imagery. Here are a few examples of onomatopoeia: The explosion erupted with a boom! The horses clip-clopped across the street. Fall leaves rustled in the whistling 5. The beginning of a new act is frequently marked by a change of setting, the commencing of a new narrative thread, or a shift to a different group of characters as well as, often, an intermission.
The plays of Shakespeare and other Renaissance dramatists are usually divided into five acts. The five-act division was adopted in Elizabethan drama in imitation of the Roman philosopher and playwright Seneca the Younger ca. Horace, in Ars Poetica Art of Poetry, ca. Still more recently, dramatists have structured their plays as a sequence of scenes, rather than relying on act division; some dramatists, like Samuel Beckett, have written plays consisting of a single scene.
From the Greek aisthein, to perceive; aisthetes, one who perceives. Aestheticism means relying on seeing, the refined use of the eye.
Seeing thus becomes realized thinking: present and palpable because it issues in sight. Pater and his immediate ancestor John Ruskin share the aim of creating in the observer of art, and of life, an appropriately heightened and refined consciousness of beauty. Huysmans, Charles Baudelaire, and Gustave Flaubert. The anxious wish for literature to be guided by philosophy, with its supposedly superior thoughtfulness, begins with Plato. For Kant, aesthetic judgment is based on an experience of pleasure that claims universal validity, rather than being an idiosyncratic preference.
Furthermore, aesthetics justifies itself not by reference to rules but by evoking in us what Kant calls the harmony of faculties. There is no particular property in a beautiful object that makes it aesthetically pleasing i.
This feeling then interacts with the impulse on the part of understanding to claim universal status for the object as beautiful. See Ted Cohen and Paul Guyer, eds. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley criticized what they called the affective fallacy: evaluating a literary work by describing the emotions aroused in its readers. Before Wimsatt and Beardsley, I. Richards wanted to distinguish what can be explained and argued concerning a text that is, a properly interpretive response from what can only be felt or proclaimed a merely affective re- affective fallacy AGON 5 sponse.
Describing the feeling that a text gives us, Richards suggested, is different from, and inherently far less interesting than, explaining what it means. For all that, Richards devoted himself to investigating the emotions of an untaught reader when confronted by a poem, as if these were somehow telling for the more educated reader.
Wimsatt and Beardsley are less interested than Richards in the feelings provoked in naive readers by a text. This is not a state order, but a historic demand. Harold Bloom has applied the term agon to the struggle between authors, with a later author striving to define himself or herself against an earlier one. An aleatory work is dependent on chance or randomness. Some significant modern artists who have used aleatory techniques in their work are the musician John Cage and the writer William Burroughs.
Characteristically, aleatory art involves the kind of random events produced through a set of rules, rather than mere raw spontaneity: Burroughs used the technique of cut-ups scraps of text collated with arbitrary rigor ; Cage threw the I Ching to determine the position of musical notes. In France, the Oulipo movement designed a series of games and exercises devoted to the production of aleatory literature.
The aleatory may be attractive to writers because it promises a liberation, even if a momentary one, from the bondage to tradition and from the thoughtful, conscious working out and working through that writing usually requires. By using aleatory techniques authors hope to abstract their words from the burden of their usual meanings, and also from associations with earlier tradition. As with some other kinds of avant-garde art, aleatory experiments run the risk of being more interesting to the writer than to the reader.
This literary culture had its center in the Egyptian city of Alexandria during the reign of the Ptolemies. Alexandrian works frequently feature elaborate mythological allusions, a polished surface, and a slender, elegant style.
The terse, splendid Alexandrian poet Callimachus contributed a major slogan, useful for laconic writers of the future: Mega biblion, mega kakon big book, big evil. It could be argued that a new Alexandrianism, refusing the large work and prizing the fractured and miniature, characterizes certain present-day literary forms: poetry after modernism, for example. In the early twentieth century, the discoveries achieved by Sigmund Freud and by writers like Guillaume Apollinaire suggested that the fullest revelation of the self might come in elliptical, oblique fragments, snatches of dreams.
Alexandrine The Alexandrine goes iambic pentameter one better by adding a foot, so that each line contains six feet instead of the more usual five. According to Marx, capitalism requires and produces alienated labor.
The worker who performs alienated labor is aware that his bodily and mental capacities have been rented by the bosses. As a result, he finds himself unable to identify with the product of his work.
The worker under capitalism therefore remains at the opposite pole from the creative artist or craftsman, who proudly identifies with the end result of his labor. Victorian social thinkers like John Ruskin and William Morris also voiced a protest against alienation, in terms that are in some ways comparable to Marxist ones. The dramatist Bertolt Brecht described his own theatrical methods as producing an alienation effect.
Instead of identifying with the characters onstage and providing an empathetic mirror for their emotions, audiences, according to Brecht, should attend in a cool, analytic manner to the statements that the actors make.
The learningplay is essentially dynamic; its task is to show the world as it changes and also how it may be changed. His ideas are connected to the traditional worry, especially common in the eighteenth century, that an audience might identify too much with theatrical or novelistic protagonists, and so engage in the same dubious behavior practiced by the characters they see depicted onstage.
It is always saying: watch me, I mean something. Some have claimed that L. Two of the oldest allegorical ideas are the ship of state and the body politic, both going back to Greek and Roman traditions.
Parables often make us speculate about the choice of metaphoric vehicle why does Jesus use a seed as an image for the word of the gospel? The fable and the exemplum, by contrast, tend to be more straightforward. At one point she comes upon a statue of a hermaphrodite, an allegorical image or emblem of the union of man and woman in marriage. Medieval morality plays like Everyman ca. Allegory has an affinity to ceremonial forms like the masque, and to the potentially endless battles and adventures of romance.
Allegorical forms frequently evoke a combat between antitheses: often, the good city faces off against an evil empire. It is often used to relate the events narrated in the Hebrew Bible to the Christian gospel, so that the Old Testament becomes an allegory of the New Testament.
Such readings are not necessarily fully allegorical, though. German Romanticism characteristically opposed the allegorical to the symbolic, and preferred the symbol. Neighboring words that begin with the same consonant. In the twentieth century, W. In a broader sense, to allude to something is simply to mention it, usually obliquely or off-handedly. Other influential critics on the American Renaissance followed Matthiessen. Richard Chase emphasized the rebellious search for open forms; R.
Lewis underlined the importance of Adamic innocence; Charles Feidelson focused on questions of unity, symbolism, and organic form; Quentin Anderson saw American literature looking back to the revolutionary generation. Ann Douglas, claiming Margaret Fuller as an important member of the group, illuminated the contention between American Renaissance writers and the popular sentimental literature of the time. Features verses sung by two characters in alternation, conversation-wise; it occurs most often in pastoral poetry.
The proverbial wine, women, and song provided the subject matter of his poems. Anacreon pictures himself, and is depicted by his imitators of which he had many , as a handsome, lascivious older man, devoted to the pleasures of drinking and sex. Anacreontic anagnorisis. The anagogic is one of four levels of interpretation: the others are literal, allegorical, and tropological.
Frege and, after him, Bertrand Russell asserted the centrality of logic for philosophical understanding. In this respect analytic philosophy differs from its rival, the continental tradition.
Wittgenstein and Austin were profound, funny, and strikingly original in the ways they refounded philosophical discussion, suggesting that much of previous tradition had simply failed to pay attention to what we do and say.
Now philosophy was to be established in the common, the ordinary; it had to be proven by way of experience, not wishful hypotheses about the nature of man. The inquiries of Wittgenstein, Austin, and their heirs are called ordinary language philosophy, since they often begin by looking closely at our routine ways of expressing ourselves. Ordinary language philosophy, it can be argued, diverges from analytic philosophy proper, since it does not share the analytic interest in logic, mathematics, and science.
For an extreme, and immensely influential, example of the analytic approach that chooses logic over ordinary language, see A. Moore were also significant voices in this trend. More generally speaking, though, analytic philosophy is a wide term that includes ordinary language philosophy as well as logic and philosophy of mathematics.
As such, analytic remains fundamentally distinct from continental philosophy.
Analytic philosophers see philosophy as a meditation on a series of problems. They are less interested in understanding a tradition in which each thinker responds to or contends with previous thinkers than in developing arguments based on attentive and precise definitions. An analytic philosopher might focus on questions such as the following: What is an action?
What is naming? How does memorizing differ from learning, or from recognizing? By contrast, a continental philosopher might focus on the his- analytic philosophy 16 ANAPEST tory of a concept in philosophical tradition: Geist spirit or justice, for example. The continental philosopher suggests that our sense of these words cannot be detached from the texts that invoke them most memorably: the works of Plato, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and others.
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The analytic philosopher is at times willing to discard tradition and start from scratch— from human reason and everyday proof. Some of the major analytic philosophers of recent years are W. Machiavelli, in his letters, movingly describes his evening reading of the ancient Romans as an ideal refuge from his long, hard day of political duties in Renaissance Florence. Machiavelli is a modern: although he relies on Livy and other classics in his political theory, for him the ancient authors mostly offer a heartening escape, rather than a definitive guide to life, which has changed since the old days.
But it need not be assumed that, for us moderns, the ancients are out of date, mere sources of refreshing contrast. The distance between Greek and Roman wisdom and our latter-day experience can instead be seen as a genuine debate, an intellectual contest.
Indeed, the ancients might judge us, and find us lacking. In the twelfth century Bernard of Chartres defended the authority of the ancients against the moderns. We see more, and more distant, things than the ancients. But we owe our greater power of sight to their monumental presence, which necessarily boosts us. In the late seventeenth century, the combat between the ancients and the moderns in French, la querelle des anciens et des modernes was reinaugurated.
The German Romantic A. The most remarkable recent revival of a case for the ancients is contained in the writings of the political philosopher Leo Strauss and his followers. Similarly, in his Ars Poetica Art of Poetry, ca. Anything you show me like that earns my incredulity and disgust. But later writers use the Aristotelian and Horatian inclination against visible gore to emphasize a different point.
They want to ward off the peculiar power of theatrical violence, and sex as well: the horrible, entrancing sights that might affect an audience, and even damage its sensibility. For the puritans of the English Reformation, plays were wicked things, and playgoing a kind of frenzied idolatry, to be classed with other vicious diversions like dice playing, maypole dancing, and cosmetics.
The antitheatrical argument has two main emphases. The other emphasis goes in a slightly different direction: theatrical representation exploits unreality and makes us dwell there, so that we no longer care to know the difference between lies and truth.
Plato, unlike Aristotle and Horace, does engage questions of audience psychology: he is undoubtedly the primary source of the psychotherapeutic case against the spectacular. An antithesis is a rhetorical contrast between opposing ideas, often reinforced by parallel syntax. Yeats expounds the idea of the antithetical in a contrary manner to that of Aristotle. In Yeats, the stark contrast of a rhetorical opposition substitutes for, rather than depending on, the logic of a refutation.
Sheer antithesis itself becomes an argument. The antiself must be kept for figurative enactment in an artistic work, rather than literal enactment in life, since the messiness of our actual, everyday existence can only frustrate the high, poised aspiration of the anti-self.
The aphorist raises a sentence or two to artful integrity. Aphorisms are compact and pointed: often, like the porcupine, pointed in several different directions. The epigram, a related genre, is closer to a one-liner, and more restricted in its effectiveness than the aphorism. The Baconian aphorism is related to the sententia or learned opinion, and to the proverb. For an idiosyncratic and dazzling selection of aphorisms, consult W.
Auden and Louis Kronenberger, eds. The word apocalypse, from Greek, means an opening up or revealing: the Revelation of Saint John, the last book of the Bible, depicts the Christian apocalypse. Apocalypse in Blake keeps happening, presenting an ongoing discovery, or life history, of the cosmos. Nietzsche associates the Apollonian with the god Apollo, and with the coolness, refinement, and balance of ancient Greek sculpture and architecture. By contrast, the dark, archaic tragedy of Aeschylus, vanquished by the light of the Socratic logos, remains for Nietzsche the epitome of the Dionysian.
Apollonian From the Greek poros, way or road: preceded by the negating particle a- alpha privative , it means a situation of irresolvable difficulty. Scholars have described as aporetic early Socratic dialogues like the Protagoras ca. The critic Paul de Man explored the aporetic as a crucial feature of literature.
The literary, de Man argued, distinguishes itself by the characteristic appearance of an epistemological disappointment, so that we find ourselves aporia ARCADIA 23 blocked off from the knowledge that the text seemed to promise us. An apostrophe is a poetic exclamation, colored by lament or acclaim: O tempora!
A New Handbook of Literary Terms
O mores! Oh the times, the manners!And that, after all, is what gives each of us power over our own lives.
Traditionally, the fourteen lines of a sonnet consist of an octave or two quatrains making up a stanza of 8 lines and a sestet a stanza of See Ted Cohen and Paul Guyer, eds. See G. The dynamic character's change can be extreme or subtle, as long as his or her development is important to The disclosure of meaning might seem imminent—hinted at, whether in a teasing or an abrasive manner—but might never occur.
Depth of psychological penetration, the ability to 8 Prose: Literary Terms and Concepts make a character real as oneself, seems to be no primary criterion of fictional talent. Most words Figurative language allows writers to transcend logical and typical bounds of thinking in order to present things in a new and meaningful way.