33 votes
Accepted

What is the opposite of deus ex machina?

The terms Chekhov's gun and foreshadowing may fit the bill. In the above example, you could say the eventual solution of the problem had been foreshadowed throughout the story, or that it was set up ...
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  • 453
20 votes
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Was pretending to be an abridgement of a made-up work invented by William Goldman?

Much of J.R.R. Tolkien's work is presented as an abridgment/translation of the "original", usually in Elvish. Much of The Silmarillion is presented as a gloss of epic poems, some of which Tolkien ...
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  • 4,898
19 votes

Did Borges invent the idea of writing reviews/summaries of imaginary literary works?

No he did not! The process can be traced back at least to Thomas Carlyle, who in Sartor Resartus (1833–34) publishes a summary and a critique, à la Borges, of the fictional book Clothes, Their Origin ...
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13 votes
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To what effect does Goldman claim The Princess Bride is an abridgement?

The abridgment is part of the overall frame story. The frame story is very different in the book than in the film. The book's frame story is very cynical. It's about the disillusionment of children ...
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  • 4,898
12 votes
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Are there earlier incidences than Merchant of Venice of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other?

Yes, the device of the good and the bad angel had definitely been used before, for example by Christopher Marlowe in The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. Marlowe's plays are generally hard to date and ...
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10 votes

What is the opposite of deus ex machina?

The closest literary term for this is most likely anagnorisis. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms by Chris Baldick (Second edition. Oxford University Press, 2001) defines the term as ...
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9 votes

Was Mark Twain actually almost a millionaire twice over, before he became famous?

He really did engage in silver mine prospecting while he lived in Nevada, though he wasn't one to really pick up a shovel and pick and do much actual work. Almost a millionaire twice. In the first ...
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9 votes
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Is alliteration adjacent words and/or close together words starting with the same letter? If words between are permitted then how many?

Dr. L. Kip Wheeler's glossary of literary terms defines alliteration as Repeating a consonant sound in close proximity to others, or beginning several words with the same vowel sound. The glossary ...
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8 votes
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What is the narrative device that involves using inconsequential elements in the story?

I think what you are looking for is Literary Naturalism. This began as a reaction to the prevailing mode of Romanticism (and later aestheticism and Decadence) of the nineteenth-century period and was ...
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  • 2,124
7 votes

Does "The Soul selects her own Society" by Emily Dickinson have a simile?

Taking the elements of style in turn: (A) Almost every concrete noun in the poem is used metaphorically, including door, chariots, gate, emperor, mat, nation, valve. (B) You are right that “I’ve known ...
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7 votes

What effect does an epistolary format have on our understanding of the book as a reader?

Epistolary novels should help increase reader identification with the writer-protagonists. The format shifts our sense of the weight of the "invisible hand of the author" from the words being written ...
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  • 283
7 votes
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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?

That rhetorical device is called zeugma. Merriam-Webster defines zeugma as follows: the use of a word to modify or govern two or more words usually in such a manner that it applies to each in a ...
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  • 15.3k
6 votes

Are photographs in Harry Potter a device for characterizing subjects?

In Chamber of Secrets (p. 106) we read as follows: Harry looked bemusedly at the photograph Colin was brandishing under his nose. A moving, black-and-white Lockhart was tugging on an arm ...
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  • 2,687
6 votes

Does "The Soul selects her own Society" by Emily Dickinson have a simile?

It's a simile. A simile is a direct comparison and if we note that we have: The soul ... unmoved ... like stone We see we have a simile. This reading is corroborated by reading the rest of the ...
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6 votes

The name of a device by which an author reports the use of coarse language without quoting it?

In TV Tropes terms, this is called the Narrative Profanity Filter. So, you're writing a book, and one of your characters, for whatever reason, has to swear. Not a problem - unless your intended ...
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5 votes

Why the capitalization of "Heavens" in Rudyard Kipling's "The Secret of the Machines"?

This poem seems to have two meanings here, a literal one and a metaphorical one. Let's look at the last eight lines: We are greater than the Peoples or the Kings—    Be humble, as ...
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  • 7,900
5 votes
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What is the "uncanny" element of Gothic Literature?

I'm going to use a character well-known in the gothic for this answer: Dracula. Count Dracula is uncanny because he reminds us of a human, yet something is amiss in his appearance. He is ...
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  • 116
5 votes

Term for intentionally impressing different meanings on different audiences

It is unlikely there is such a term. The twentieth century has produced various theories about readers' responses to literary works and what I have read about them does not seem to suggest that ...
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4 votes
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Did Borges invent the idea of writing reviews/summaries of imaginary literary works?

Sartor Resartus was written in 1836. There are examples of earlier imaginaries dating back to John Donne and Rabelais. Donne's The Courtier's Library (1650), is a catalogue of 34 apocryphal works ...
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  • 355
4 votes
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What's the name of the literary device used by Sheymov to refer to himself in 3rd person?

This is simply known as third-person narration. This technique is far from new. A notable user of third-person narration was Julius Caesar in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico / Commentaries on the ...
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  • 38.5k
4 votes

Are there earlier incidences than Merchant of Venice of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other?

In the Islamic tradition there are two angels, the kiraman katibin, that figuratively sit to the left and right of person to record their actions, both good and bad. They are named in the Qu'ran as ...
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4 votes

What kind of language features appear in Lady Macbeth's line "too full o' the milk of human kindness"?

In addition to the devices mentioned in the other answers, the phrase "milk of human kindness" also deploys two other devices: Paronomasia, or more simply, a pun. Kindness typically means ...
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4 votes

Where can I find sources that could help me write about parody of human feelings in Beckett's novel "Molloy"?

For a bibliography about Beckett and his works, you can refer to The Grove Companion to Samuel Beckett: A Reader's Guide to His Work, Life, and Thought by C.J. Ackerley and Stanley Gontarski (Grove ...
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  • 38.5k
4 votes
Accepted

Identify rhetorical/stylistic device in Tanpınar's The Time Regulation Institute

The passage appears to use the rhetorical device of aporia: the narrator asks a question expressing a certain doubt ("But can one really call it a life?") and then proceeds to give two ...
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4 votes
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What is the figure of speech used in this part of "Cataract Operation"?

These lines are examples of metaphors - a figure of speech that equates two things for the purposes of comparison or symbolism, without the two being literally the same. The towel on the washing line ...
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4 votes

What figure of speech is "transient feet" in "A Photograph" by Shirley Toulson?

There are a few ways to read this phrase: The feet are transient because the girls did not stay on the beach for long: the holiday came to an end and they went home and back to school. (This is the ...
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  • 40.2k
4 votes

If a first-person narrator addresses the reader, is it considered speech or thought?

PAIRS is intended to help you direct your attention to specific methods a text may use to reveal what a character is like. Essentially, it tells you not to overlook (1) what a character looks like, (2)...
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4 votes
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Analysis of "While I speak God's law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering."

There is no onomatopoeia (strictly) in this excerpt. Onomatopoeia in the most restrictive sense is a word which resembles or evokes a sound in a directly sonic way. For example, if the sound of a car ...
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4 votes
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Does Vivien sleep with Merlin in Tennyson's "Idylls of the King"?

Your interpretation is a common way to understand this passage. Mid-Victorian literary conventions required some delicacy in alluding to sexual activity, so this kind of suggestive imagery is all we ...
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  • 40.2k
3 votes

Is there a formal term for "mispronunciation as a comedic device"?

There are literary terms for certain types of mispronunciation, but, as far as I know, no literary term that covers all of them. The spoonerism is probably the best-known example. For example, "The ...
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