Questions tagged [terminology]

Questions pertaining to terms used in the study of literature, including the names of the genres, tropes, terms used for analysis, and so forth.

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Is there a name for the narrative technique of starting at the end and then going back to the beginning? (As in Lord Jim)

I've been reading Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad, which is rife with what I would call non-standard narrative structures. There are obvious narrative peculiarities in the book that have been discussed at ...
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What is the opposite of deus ex machina?

Deus ex machina is a plot device in which a seemingly unsolvable problem is resolved by a sudden and unexpected external event. For example: "The villain has our hero backed in a corner with no ...
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Name for prosodic pattern in which the last line in a verse is much shorter than all the rest

I noticed this pattern in Auden's poetry where the last line in a verse will be much shorter than preceding lines. Here is one of the earliest examples, taken from Paid on Both Sides: Here a scrum ...
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What is a term for an (occasionally lengthy) passage set between chapters?

In The Forgetting*, there are passages from books (mostly the main character's diaries) set between the chapters. They generally serve to provide exposition about the world or backstory for the main ...
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What is trauma literature?

I recently stumbled upon the term "trauma literature". However, I am having a hard time figuring out what it actually refers to. There is almost no piece of literature that does not contain ...
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Why are some metaphors not similes?

This Master Class website says that A simile is a type of metaphor. All similes are metaphors, but not all metaphors are similes. Is this true? Can anyone cite an official textbook? Please explain ...
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Term for intentionally impressing different meanings on different audiences

Is there a term for when an author intentionally generates two completely different responses from two distinct parts of their audience/readership? An example I found could be in The Picture of Dorian ...
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Categories of narrative focus

I recall that a few years back a friend was explaining how novels can fall into various categories depending on what the focus of the story is. For example, one category he mentioned was where the ...
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Can Byronic heroes be funny?

I'm learning about the different hero archetypes. As far as I know, Byronic heroes are charismatic, passionate, and flawed, among others. But can they be humorous? I can't think of any examples off of ...
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What do you call the "message" written before a poem?

From Re Judicial by Baticuling (Jesús Balmori) in El libro de mis vidas manileñas (1928) Before the first stanza, the author begins with a little message: "Antonio Manipula, juez ... y ...
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What does it mean for literature to be “reflective”?

The book-review and -recommendation site The Storygraph allows users to categorise books in various ways such as adventurous, funny, inspiring, and reflective. Some (fiction) books I know have been ...
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Is there a term for epic poetry’s detailed, successive introductions of multiple characters?

I’ve noticed a topos in a few epic poems I’ve read where a long list of characters is given, each receiving practically a paragraph of description. In The Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes, Jason’s ...
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In musical theatre, what does "book by" mean?

In musical theatre, what does "book by" mean? For example, the Bonnie and Clyde 2012 musical has a book by Ivan Menchell. Bonnie & Clyde is a musical with music by Frank Wildhorn, ...
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What is the actual meaning of verse?

I often hear people using the words “stanza” and “verse” interchangeably, the small quotes of The Holy Bible are also called verses, and even the non-chorus part of songs are also called verses. I’m ...
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What literary device is Walter de la Mare's "It is I" in "Napoleon"?

Walter de la Mare's short poem "Napoleon" goes like this: What is the world, O soldiers? It is I: I, this incessant snow, This northern sky; Soldiers, this solitude Through which we go Is I....
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Poems or stories with no repeated words?

I am after a poem/story that has no repetitions in words, further, is this a type of writing style? Are there any famous examples where this is the case? Repetition is the act of repeating or ...
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What is meant by the "level of feeling" with respect to the tone of a text?

My textbook defines "tone" as follows: The voice or level of feeling, closely linked to the mood created I find the phrase "level of feeling" ambiguous in this context and I wasn'...
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Are there different formats of haikus?

This is similar to this question but not exactly the same. I have seen haikus in the following formats: The traditional / which is in five-seven-five / and is most common But I have also read that ...
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How and when did the term "spoilers" originate?

Nowadays, the word "spoilers" is frequently used to describe a twist, major plot point, or anything which, if known beforehand, might spoil the experience of reading a story. This whole ...
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Term for wordplay: frictionless trade vs tradeless friction

Brexit promise: frictionless trade. Brexit reality: tradeless friction This often appears in the internet discussions on Brexit. Is there a more specialized term to describe this specific kind of ...
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Etymology of "iamb", as a genre and a type of metre

An excellent verbose answer says that: Etymologically, the word iambos is related to the Greek word for cripple, with the short syllable representing the lame leg and the long the strong one. ...
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What literary term/device is used when a character in a novel represents the author?

I'm reading a novel called Persepolis for my English course, and it's about a girl named Marji that grows up during the 1979 Revolution. The author's intention with the novel is to break Western ...
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Sonnet 39 of Astrophil and Stella: Are these epithets or metaphors?

This is Sonnet 39 of Astrophil and Stella, also known as Come Sleep! O Sleep: Come Sleep! O Sleep, the certain knot of peace, The baiting-place of wit, the balm of woe, The poor man’s wealth, the ...
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What is the relationship between the hypotext and the intertext?

I understand a hypotext to be a text (a sort of urtext, or at least foundational text) that influences the hypertext that comes afterwards. For example, the Song of Songs is the hypotext to Elizabeth ...
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Terminology for a novel about writing a novel

Is there a specific term for a novel (or poem, or any other artwork) whose content is concerned with writing or creating a similar art? Some examples of the kind of novels I'm thinking of: Proust's ...
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What is the name of the literary device where successive lines paraphrase each other?

The literary device I'm thinking of is when you say something, then you say it again using different words, or words which are equivalent in meaning. For example, in Psalm 137 If I forget you, ...
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Is the stormy weather an element of Naturalism in The Shining by Stephen King?

In Stephen King's novel The Shining, there seems to me to be a correlation between the weather and the sanity of Jack Torrance. Namely, as the Torrance family becomes more isolated (i.e. people from ...
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Symbolism and romanticism as literary movements

I'm trying to understand the difference between Symbolism and Romanticism as literary movements. As I understand it, the symbolists explicitly wanted to distance themselves from the romantics. But if ...
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140 views

"Tragic" vs "Tragedy"

According Owl Purdue's page on structuralism and semiotics, tragics falls under historical criticism and tragedies fall under archetypal criticism. What is the difference between a tragic and a ...
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Name of this lyrical device comparing oneself to something that's described by the same word, but in another sense of the word?

Warning: The examples contain some offensive words, but I believe that is not against the rules here? Lately I've been listening a lot to a certain hip-hop album, in which almost every track uses a ...
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What is the term for substituting a context-specific word into a well-known phrase? [closed]

What is the term for substituting a context-specific word into a well-known phrase? For example, there's a saying like "Actions speak louder than words". So I'll, for example, substitute the ...
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Is there a term for stories that act to teach the reader (not the characters) a lesson without the use fantastical elements?

Is there a term for stories that act to teach the reader (not the characters) a lesson without the use fantastical elements? For example, take a Raymond Carver short story. His characters are often ...
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Who coined the term ‘Shakespearean sonnet’?

So far, we have had at least two questions about the early history of the English sonnet: Who introduced the sonnet to English literature? Wyatt or Shakespeare? Why are Shakespearean sonnets called ...
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Why are Shakespearean sonnets called Shakespearean sonnets?

The term Shakespearean sonnet is frequently used for sonnets with a particular verse pattern and rhyme scheme, namely ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. But from what I can find with a little reading online, this ...
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Is there a term for the boundaries of expectation as established by a story's narration?

I'd like to put a name to the group of expectations established by the narration of a story, including explicit framing devices, verb tense choices, and the narrator's omniscience. Examples: A story ...
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What is the trope known in Russian as "speaking name" called in English?

There's a trope known in Russian as "говорящее имя", i.e. "speaking name". The point of this trope is that a character's name (or surname) indicates its important, sometimes ...
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Why is the short Vietnamese piece "Learning Late Letters" called a "poem"?

"Learning Late Letters", originally written in Vietnamese by Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên, was one of the winners of the 2020 Words Without Borders Academy of Americans Poets Poems in Translation ...
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Is there a technical term for a work that is based on another, and created by modifying a few words in critical places?

I came across @Randal'Thor's creative "edit summary" ring a ding dillo, hey Puzz, merry Puzz, Work a place illo on this question and it got a chuckle out of me, but also got me thinking ...
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The name of a device by which an author reports the use of coarse language without quoting it?

Don, a soldier sleeping in a hammock, is abruptly awakened some hours earlier than expected and is quite alarmed, thinking the camp may be under attack by the enemy. The company headquarters runner ...
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What is an epic and why is there “only one epic in English Language so far”?

I’m quite familiar with novels and stories, if my personal view is concerned I would say that story is just a compact and summarised form of novel. The level of detail in novels is, obviously, much ...
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What do literary critics mean when they say a text is overdetermined?

In literary criticism one can sometimes read statements such as the following: "Helena’s love therefore is overdetermined to a degree unusual even in Shakespeare" (Michael Delahoyde quoting ...
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What is it called when someone changes their character to fit false accusations?

I am looking for a literary name of the following common psychological phenomenon, its nomenclature: When someone is accused of something, i.e. prostitution or murder, after a while the person no ...
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Meaning of vision du monde in Lucien Goldmann's genetic structuralism

In the 1960s the French philosopher, sociologist and literary theorist Lucien Goldmann developed a theory known as "genetic criticism" (e.g. in Sciences humaines et philosophie. Suivi de ...
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What is the difference between horizon of expectation and expectation?

I'm studying reader-response theory and wonder what is the difference between horizon of expectation and a simple expectation. In my understanding, the horizon of expectation is just expectation. It ...
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Who introduced the term close reading in the context of literature?

The Wikipedia article Close reading discusses the history of the concept and the influence of I. A. Richards and others on the New Criticism: American New Critics in the 1930s and 1940s anchored ...
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What is the narrative type used in "Harry Potter" called?

Is there a name of the type of narrative used in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels, where the events are written in third person but exclusively follow the perspective of Harry Potter? Only events ...
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What is Proustian prose?

I was reading an article about the late Gene Wolfe which called him "the Proust of Science Fiction". Specifically: His four-volume masterpiece The Book of the New Sun (of which The Shadow of the ...
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What is the "uncanny" element of Gothic Literature?

In Wikipedia, the "uncanny" is defined as the psychological experience of something as strangely familiar, rather than simply mysterious. It may describe incidents where a familiar thing or event ...
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Who was the first scholar who used the term Henriad to refer to a subset of Shakespeare's history plays?

A recent chatroom discussion about how to tag the question Portrayal of Henry Bolingbroke through different Shakespeare plays led to the question what "Henriad" actually means. According to ...
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Are there any "literary cycles" that are cyclic? [closed]

I'm thinking of a set of stories that forms a literary cycle in the traditional sense but where they are intended to form a coherent story arc regardless of where in the sequence you start? The ...