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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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What's it called when a short quote appears at the beginning of a chapter?

I've read several novels (Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy springs to mind, for example) in which each chapter is associated with a quote from some other piece of literature, which is usually somehow ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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28 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
SlowMagic's user avatar
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26 votes
3 answers
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What is a Byronic Hero?

I just saw this post: Was Heathcliff intentionally made a Byronic Hero? Not being familiar with literary terminology, I have no idea what a Byronic Hero is. I had read Wuthering Heights long ago (it ...
muru's user avatar
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23 votes
3 answers
2k views

How are graphic novels different from comic books?

I always get confused between the terms comic-book and graphic novel. What makes a comic-book be referred to as Graphic novel? What is the difference between both of the terms?
Ankit Sharma's user avatar
21 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is there a name for a comic relief character that temporarily becomes highly capable?

This is a trope that I've seen sometimes in comic books. I haven't seen it in prose fiction yet. Sometimes, we see a character who provides comic relief become highly capable for a single issue or ...
Vixen Populi's user avatar
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20 votes
1 answer
12k views

What is the difference between a Novelette, Novella and Novel?

What are the main differences between a novelette, a novella, and a novel? As they sound fairly similar.
kenorb's user avatar
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17 votes
1 answer
3k views

Is there a name for books in which the narrator isn't the protagonist but someone who know them well?

Is there a name for books in which the protagonist is only observed through a secondary character's narrative? Often they are in first-person (and the "I" is not the protagonist but another ...
nuggethead's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
3k views

Terminology and examples for what George Orwell calls "good bad poetry"?

Recently I bumped into an article where "The Poetry Foundation’s president, John Barr, takes a look at what separates “serious” poetry from the rest". Poetry being an art form, obviously no such ...
Ilmari's user avatar
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1 answer
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What is close reading?

What exactly is "close reading"? How does it relate to the study of literature? Are there any instructions about how to do a close reading of a text/passage?
user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
3k views

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 ...
Knight wants Loong back's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
144 views

What makes something a literary or poetic movement?

I have recently been reading about the various poetic and literary movements that occurred prior to the 21st century, and one thing that I don't understand is how they become a movement. Most of them ...
Benjamin's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
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What is the meaning of "Director's Cut" in the context of comics?

I have noticed that a few comic titles are also referred to as Director's Cut like DC's Final Crisis 1: Director's Cut. I know what a Director's Cut is in the context of film, as discussed here on our ...
Ankit Sharma's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
7k views

Is there a name for the literary device in the expression "Thanks, I hate it."?

"Thanks, I hate it!" is an expression one could use to passive-aggressively indicate a strong dislike for something. What kind of literary device is used in this saying? Can this be ...
user19705's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
877 views

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 ...
IglooMaster's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
639 views

Is alliteration adjacent words and/or close together words starting with the same letter? If words between are permitted then how many?

OK, I know this question isn't about literary analysis or anything but I posted this on ELU and it was put on hold (as off-topic) and I was advised to post it here. Is alliteration exclusively ...
Fabjaja's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
440 views

What qualifies something as "Lovecraftian"?

I often hear the term "Lovecraftian" used in reference to describe certain elements of horror literature or film. I do understand this to be a reference to H.P. Lovecraft and his style of horror, but ...
sanpaco's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
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What do people mean when they refer to a work as "Dostoevskian"?

I hear this term thrown around a lot, in connection to a variety of different works. They don't all share the same central themes, though - at least not necessarily. But they do all tend to be ...
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10 votes
3 answers
845 views

What makes a poem a Grook?

I recently learned, while listening to the flow of wisdom, music, and monologue that flows from lauir, that there's a type of poem called a 'Grook'. Quoting from the Wikipedia page: The grooks are ...
Mithical's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the difference between a philosophical novel and a novel of ideas?

Wikipedia calls the novel of ideas a subgenre of philosophical fiction, without defining the first term. The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory (2010) uses the terms "novel of ideas" and "...
Robert's user avatar
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1 answer
230 views

What is Hubbard's definition of "pure science fiction"?

In his 1980 introduction to Battlefield Earth, L. Ron Hubbard claims that the novel is a work of "pure science fiction" and then sets out to define that term. However... Hubbard spends more time ...
BESW's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
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Where does the word "diegesis" come from, and to what elements of a story, specifically, does it refer?

I've noticed that the word "diegesis" is an important term when discussing literature and literary value. Where does it come from, and what does it mean?
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10 votes
2 answers
160 views

What are chapter summary phrases called?

Is there a name for the literary technique of opening a chapter with a series of summary phrases? An example from Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome: Chapter II Plans discussed.—Pleasures of “...
Brian Koser's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
254 views

Difference between "conte" and "nouvelle" at the time of La Fontaine

One of the works of the French poet Jean de La Fontaine is a collection of stories that's usually known as Contes et nouvelles en vers. It seems to me that this title implies that there was a ...
Charo's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
480 views

What is the narrative device that involves using inconsequential elements in the story?

I’m looking for the narrative device that, as opposed to Chekhov’s gun, involves purposely including accounts of events or things in the narrative that are inconsequential to the main story. This ...
Andrew Peter Prifer's user avatar
9 votes
3 answers
760 views

Why is "Ode on Melancholy" an Ode?

What features of Keats's "Ode on Melancholy" make it an ode? This is a question that seems to be important in our English class, yet I don't have a comprehensive answer. Merriam-Webster defines "ode" ...
Airdish's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
412 views

How is 'flash fiction' a distinctive genre?

"Flash Fiction" is an umbrella term used to describe any fictional work of extreme brevity, including the Six-Word Story, 140-character stories (also known as 'twitterature'), the dribble (50 words), ...
Dan's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

What's the defining difference between a fairy tale and a fable?

In Is a moral lesson a requirement for fairy tales?, the commenting crowd has pressed for clear distinguishment between whether fables or fairy tales are being discussed. How do fables and fairy ...
doppelgreener's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
7k views

What is the distinction between Imagism and Symbolism as poetic movements?

I have recently been reading about symbolism and imagism and they seem to me to be connected in that they were in some ways the opposite of each other, one being the movement to add greater symbolic ...
Benjamin's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
sba222's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
177 views

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 ...
Michael Hardy's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
122 views

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 ...
stevec's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
164 views

Do we have (non-biblical) literary allusions referring to person as a "χριστός"?

A great starting place for Greek literature is always Perseus Tufts, and the entry for "χριστός" returned these dictionary entries and textual allusions. As expected, we see entries for the ...
Arash Howaida's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
237 views

What do you call a break in rhyming in the middle of a book / poem for dramatic effect?

I'm creating a children's book for a school project. I've been tasked to identify some literary devices used throughout the book. There is a section of the book which I want to highlight because it ...
Keith Davies's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
164 views

A figure of speech combining two phrases

I have read somewhere that it is typical of poems such as Nibelungenlied to use a figure of speech which in fact merges two phrases into one by the mean of a common word. An example could be the ...
Alex Doe's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
1k views

What is a "proem", and why was this word used in the translation of the Kalevala?

The contents of Crawford's translation of the Kalevala begin, after the frontmatter that's not part of the original text, with something called a "Proem". Here it is. Obvious question: what is a ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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7 votes
3 answers
1k views

Can 'peripeteia' be a positive change too?

"Peripeteia" is an unexpected reversal of circumstances or a turning point. In tragedy, this sudden change of circumstances is usually a negative one. Is it possible for peripeteia to be a ...
Tessa P's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
114 views

Does literary theory have a technical term for a writer publishing the first version of one of their works in a foreign language?

Does literary theory know a technical term for the following: An accomplished writer intentionally publishes the first version of one of their texts in a language which they neither know (well), nor ...
guest's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
3k views

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, ...
QMan2488's user avatar
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6 votes
3 answers
1k views

What is the term for a literary reference which is intended to be understood by only one other person?

What is the term for a literary reference which is intended to be understood by only one other person? I came across this term some years ago but did not record it - wrongly assuming I could easily ...
Patrick FitzGerald's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
1k views

What does postmodernism mean in terms of literature?

In trying to learn about literature I have frequently encountered the idea of postmodernism. But as I have little humanities experience I have had trouble getting my head around the concept. Can ...
KittenWithAWhip's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
364 views

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 ...
bobble's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
337 views

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
987 views

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 ...
Fogmeister's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
879 views

What exactly is canon?

I've seen the word canon used occasionally on this site. I've also seen it used quite extensively on Stack Exchange's science fiction and fantasy site. I'm pretty sure I know what the word means, ...
user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
180 views

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 ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
225 views

Style of poetry that plays with typographic rivers

In typography, rivers, or rivers of white, are gaps in typesetting, which appear to run through a paragraph of text, due to a coincidental alignment of spaces. River (typography), Wikipedia. I was ...
villasv's user avatar
  • 161
6 votes
1 answer
739 views

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, ...
Qwertuy's user avatar
  • 163
6 votes
2 answers
2k views

What would a biography on an animal be called?

If biography means: an account of someone's life written by someone else. biographies as a branch of literature. a human life in its course. What would a biography based on a particular animal be ...
ScottFoster1000's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
160 views

Is there a word for the device where an adjective or descriptive verb is applied to a nearby word rather than the word it actually describes?

Eg. "the green and climbing eyesight of a cat" ("Sir, Say No More"); "[the quarry] whose trail soon vanished in the antlered wood" ("Arrowhead Hunting"). The ...
eclarette's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
159 views

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 ...
user2513484's user avatar