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 term for an item in a period piece that is used as a stand in for a more modern equivalent?

The most obvious example I could think of, was the Flintstone's "car". Obviously cars didn't exist at the time. (Neither did most of the things in the Flintstone's lives - which I think is ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Has the puzzle genre in literary fiction been given a formal name?

I'm not talking about maximalist novels, or experimental literature or metaphysical literature. I'm talking about books where the author is not interested in making it easy for the reader to figure ...
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How do you classify a writer as a ??th century writer?

Is there a common method to adscribe a writer/painter/person as belonging to a certain century? As in "Herman Melville was a 19th century writer who...". Is it only used in such clear cases ...
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What is the difference between romanticism and existentialism?

It seems existentialism and romanticism are both literary movements which (1) see a man as irrational, and (2) search for meaning in an individual's life. Can we say that these movements are ...
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Expression used when a subplot is the genuine plot

I'm looking for the literary expression that is used when the themes and plot of a subplot are the real plot of a narrative, which is counterpoised to another, more accessible story plot that is only ...
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Term for a story that is a perfect loop

Is there a noun for or an adjective that describes stories that can be read from beginning-to-end repeatedly? That is, the beginning of the story is a seamless continuation from its ending. You could ...
4 votes
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What exactly makes Lord of the Rings "not a trilogy"?

Yes, I know that Tolkien, the author, originally intended to release it as one single book. But for practical/various reasons, it was instead split up into three ones (confusingly consisting of two &...
6 votes
1 answer
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Is Anna Karenina a modernist novel?

Almost all of Anna Karenina (1878) had a classical flavour to me. For most of the novel, the thought processes of the characters, as described by the omniscient narrator, are very linear, ordered, ...
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What is the word for the kind of story where the protagonist/s become corrupted by the end of the story?

There is a certain story arc that is not uncommon in many stories and real-life events, where the protagonist or essentially a group of people set out with what seems to be a just and noble cause. ...
6 votes
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What does it mean when the chorus speaks "severally" in "Aias"?

I am reading James Scully's translation of Aias (also known as Ajax), in The Complete Plays of Sophocles, translated by Robert Bagg & James Scully. Eleven different times, per the search function ...
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In poetry, what is the terminology for major/key stanzas that are a basis for some of the subsequent stanzas?

In poetry, what is the terminology for major/key stanzas that are a basis for some of the subsequent stanzas? Proverbs 4 (New American Standard Bible 1995) 1 Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father,...
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What is it called when the true villain of the story is revealed later on?

In Star Wars, the audience is meant to believe Darth Vader is the villain of the story, but later on it becomes apparent that the Emperor is the true villain of the saga. What is this called? I really ...
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Terminology for the category including all of dialogues, monologues, asides and soliloquies

As far as I can understand, a play's script might come not only in a conventional dialogue but also in monologues, asides and soliloquies along with stage directions. I'm unable to find a single term ...
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Is this free indirect speech in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"?

Does Rowling use the technique of free indirect speech in this piece of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in particular in the bold part? Harry was silent. Judging by the fact that Draco ...
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Name for a fictional or mythological character who doesn't suffer personally, but whose family and friends all do?

I feel like this must be a character archetype or mythological figure, but can't find any references to it. In my mind, it's something like Cassandra knowing the future but not being believed; this ...
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When did the terms "Mester de Clerecía" and "Mester de Juglaría" start to be used?

Mester de Juglaría was a genre of Spanish literature from the 12th-13th centuries, which was transmitted orally by travelling entertainers (juglares). It was later surpassed by the Mester de Clerecía, ...
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Is there an equivalent to Orientalism in Eastern scholarship of the West?

Orientalism (1978) is a book by Edward Said that established the concept of "orientalism", which refers to the Western depiction of aspects in the Eastern world. Is there an equivalent to ...
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What is the role of the author in an itihasa?

A number of important Hindu texts, including the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, are referred to as itihasa. According to the Wikipedia article about this collection of texts, A story is considered to ...
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Who coined the term "omniscient narrator"?

In narrative theory, A third person omniscient narrator conveys information from multiple characters, places, and events of the story, including any given characters' thoughts, and a third person ...
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Literary term for the stagehands on "The Masked Singer"

On the American television singing contest "The Masked Singer", there is a cast of stagehands who play an essential role. They are silent, anonymous, and wear identical dark suits and ...
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One generic word for novels, short stories, poetry etc. as well as non-fictional books

I'm looking for a word that can cover both fictional and non-fictional books as well as short stories, poetry etc. I'm aware of "texts" which normally can cover all written media. "...
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Can all forms of drama be categorised under the four types 'tragedy', 'comedy', 'tragicomedy' and 'melodrama'?

What are the different forms of drama? On searching for the same query on the internet, I found multiple articles that called Comedy, Tragedy, Tragicomedy and Melodrama as the major forms but, there ...
1 vote
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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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2 answers
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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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8 votes
1 answer
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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 or readership? An example I found could be in The Picture of ...
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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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
6 votes
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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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4 votes
1 answer
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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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2 answers
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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, ...
4 votes
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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 ...