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Literature
Major forms

Novel · Poem · Drama
Short story · Novella

Genres

Epic · Lyric · Drama
Romance · Satire
Tragedy · Comedy
Tragicomedy

Media

Performance (play) · Book

Techniques

Prose · Verse

History and lists

Basic topics · Literary terms
History · Modern history
Books · Writers
Literary awards · Poetry awards

Discussion

Criticism · Theory · Magazines

The following is a list of literary terms; that is, those words used in discussion, classification, criticism, and analysis of poetry, novels and picture books.

See also: Glossary of poetry terms, Literary criticism, Literary theory
P literature.svg This literature-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Contents

A

B

"The Leopard" from the 13th-century bestiary "Rochester Bestiary."

C

D

E

F

G

From the 13th-century Carmina Burana, a collection of love and vagabond songs in Goliardic verse from Benediktbeurn Monastery.

H

I

indefenant jckass

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

Q

R

S

T

U

V

W

References and further reading

  • M. H. Abrams. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Thomson-Wadsworth, 2005. ISBN 1413004563.
  • Chris Baldick. The Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford Univ. Press, 2004. ISBN 0198608837.
  • Chris Baldick. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford Univ. Press, 2001. ISBN 019280118X.
  • Edwin Barton & G. A. Hudson. Contemporary Guide To Literary Terms. Houghton-Mifflin, 2003. ISBN 0618341625.
  • Mark Bauerlein. Literary Criticism: An Autopsy. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. ISBN 0812216253.
  • Karl Beckson & Arthur Ganz. Literary Terms: A Dictionary. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989. ISBN 0374521778.
  • Peter Childs. The Routledge Dictionary of Literary Terms. Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0415340179.
  • J. A. Cuddon. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN 0140513639 .
  • Dana Gioia. The Longman Dictionary of Literary Terms: Vocabulary for the Informed Reader. Longman, 2005. ISBN 032133194X.
  • Sharon Hamilton. Essential Literary Terms: A Brief Norton Guide with Exercises. W. W. Norton, 2006. ISBN 0393928373.
  • William Harmon. A Handbok to Literature. Prentice Hall, 2005. ISBN 0131344420.
  • X. J. Kennedy, et al. Handbook of Literary Terms: Literature, Language, Theory. Longman, 2004. ISBN 0321202074.
  • V. B. Leitch. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W. W. Norton, 2001. ISBN 0393974294.
  • Frank Lentricchia & Thomas McLaughlin. Critical Terms for Literary Study. Univ. of Chicago Press, 1995. ISBN 0226472035.
  • David Mikics. A New Handbook of Literary Terms. Yale Univ. Press, 2007. ISBN 030010636X.
  • Ross Murfin & S. M. Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006. ISBN 0312259107.
  • John Peck & Martin Coyle. Literary Terms and Criticism. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. ISBN 0333962583.
  • Edward Quinn. A Dictionary of Literary And Thematic Terms. Checkmark Books, 2006. ISBN 0816062447.
  • Lewis Turco. The Book of Literary Terms: The Genres of Fiction, Drama, Nonfiction, Literary Criticism, and Scholarship. Univ. Press of New England, 1999. ISBN 0874519551.
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Literature
Major forms

NovelTemplate:· PoemTemplate:· Drama
Short storyTemplate:· Novella

Genres

EpicTemplate:· LyricTemplate:· Drama
RomanceTemplate:· Satire
TragedyTemplate:· Comedy
Tragicomedy

Media

Performance (play)Template:· Book

Techniques

ProseTemplate:· Verse

History and lists

Basic topicsTemplate:· Literary terms
HistoryTemplate:· Modern history
BooksTemplate:· Writers
Literary awardsTemplate:· Poetry awards

Discussion

CriticismTemplate:· TheoryTemplate:· Magazines

The following is a list of literary terms; that is, those words used in discussion, classification, criticism, and analysis of poetry, novels and picture books.

See also: Glossary of poetry terms, Literary criticism, Literary theory
This literature-related list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Contents

A

B

"Rochester Bestiary."]]

C

D

E

F

G

, a collection of love and vagabond songs in Goliardic verse from Benediktbeurn Monastery.]]

H

I

J

K

L

M

N

O

P

R

S

T

U

V

W

References and further reading

  • M. H. Abrams. A Glossary of Literary Terms. Thomson-Wadsworth, 2005. ISBN 1413004563.
  • Chris Baldick. The Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford Univ. Press, 2004. ISBN 0198608837.
  • Chris Baldick. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford Univ. Press, 2001. ISBN 019280118X.
  • Edwin Barton & G. A. Hudson. Contemporary Guide To Literary Terms. Houghton-Mifflin, 2003. ISBN 0618341625.
  • Mark Bauerlein. Literary Criticism: An Autopsy. Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1997. ISBN 0812216253.
  • Karl Beckson & Arthur Ganz. Literary Terms: A Dictionary. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989. ISBN 0374521778.
  • Peter Childs. The Routledge Dictionary of Literary Terms. Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0415340179.
  • J. A. Cuddon. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. Penguin Books, 2000. ISBN 0140513639 .
  • Dana Gioia. The Longman Dictionary of Literary Terms: Vocabulary for the Informed Reader. Longman, 2005. ISBN 032133194X.
  • Sharon Hamilton. Essential Literary Terms: A Brief Norton Guide with Exercises. W. W. Norton, 2006. ISBN 0393928373.
  • William Harmon. A Handbok to Literature. Prentice Hall, 2005. ISBN 0131344420.
  • X. J. Kennedy, et al. Handbook of Literary Terms: Literature, Language, Theory. Longman, 2004. ISBN 0321202074.
  • V. B. Leitch. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. W. W. Norton, 2001. ISBN 0393974294.
  • Frank Lentricchia & Thomas McLaughlin. Critical Terms for Literary Study. Univ. of Chicago Press, 1995. ISBN 0226472035.
  • David Mikics. A New Handbook of Literary Terms. Yale Univ. Press, 2007. ISBN 030010636X.
  • Ross Murfin & S. M. Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006. ISBN 0312259107.
  • John Peck & Martin Coyle. Literary Terms and Criticism. Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. ISBN 0333962583.
  • Edward Quinn. A Dictionary of Literary And Thematic Terms. Checkmark Books, 2006. ISBN 0816062447.
  • Lewis Turco. The Book of Literary Terms: The Genres of Fiction, Drama, Nonfiction, Literary Criticism, and Scholarship. Univ. Press of New England, 1999. ISBN 0874519551.


Simple English

List of literary terms: in alphabetical order.

Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z  

A

Abecedarius

An acrostic where the first letter of every word or verse follows the order of the alphabet. For example, in the sentence A Bear Climbed Down, the first letter of every word is in alphabetical order: A, B, C, D.

Acrostic

A form of writing where the first letter of each line, paragraph, or verse spells out a word or a message.

Allegory

A story or picture with two or more different meanings–a literal meaning and one or more symbolic meanings. The setting, characters, and things that happen inside an allegory are symbols for ideas or qualities.

Alliteration

The repeating of consonant sounds. The repetition can be put side by side (for example, "sleepy sun sank slowly over the sea").

Allusion

A short mention of a famous historical or literary person or event.

Anagnorisis

A moment in a play or other work when a character makes a very important discovery - usually about the real situation, the real natures of the people around him, or his own feelings about his enemy.[1]

Analogy

New words, ideas, or pronunciations become like the pattern of older or more familiar ones. Comparing two different things. The purpose of an analogy is to describe something unfamiliar or new with something that is more familiar.

Antagonist

The character who the main character has the most conflict with. The antagonist is not always a person or animal, however: for example, the main character could have the most conflict against nature.

Anecdote

A short and humorous (funny) story about a real event or person.

Antihero

A protagonist who does not have many heroic qualities. For example, Tom Jones in Henry Fielding's book Tom Jones is an antihero. Sometimes antagonists who are surprisingly likable are called antiheroes, too.

Antonym

A word that has the opposite meaning of another word (for example, up and down, or male and female).

Archetype

The good example, pattern, or model of a type or group. All other things of the same kind are made from this.

Argumentation

The conversation or discourse in which the writer logically presents an opinion. It sometimes has the same meaning as persuasion.

Aside

In a play, an aside is a speech that the actor says in a way that the other characters are supposed not to hear it. It usually shows the person's inner thoughts.

Autobiography

A form of nonfiction. In an autobiography, a person tells his or her own life story. For example, Benjamin Franklin wrote his own famous autobiography.

Audience

A group of people that experience a work of art or literature.

B

Ballad

A song or poem that tells a story in short stanzas and repeated simple words.

Bard

A poet hired by a patron such as a ruler or nobleman to write or sing about the patron's ancestors and to praise the patron's own works.

Biography

A form of nonfiction in which a writer tells the life story of a different person.

Blank verse

Poetry that does not rhyme. Most of Shakespeare's plays are in blank verse. Milton's Paradise Lost is also written in blank verse.

C

Carpe Diem

Latin expression which means "seize the day". Literary works with a carpe diem theme are about enjoying life and not worrying about dying.

Character

A person or an animal who is part of the action of a literary work. The main character is the one the work focuses on. The person with whom the main character has the most conflict is the antagonist. He is the enemy of the main character, who is usually called a protagonist.

Classicism

A way of thinking in literature and other arts which especially focuses on the importance of reason, balance, clearness and neat, orderly form, like the arts of Greece and Rome.

Conflict

A struggle between two forces against each other. It can be internal or external. When a conflict happens inside a character, it is called internal conflict. For example, in Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre, Jane is asking herself whether she should live with Mr. Rochester, whom she loves, or if she should go away. An external conflict is usually a conflict that is easy to see, happening between the protagonist and antagonist. Conflict is one of the most important elements of narrative literature.

Contradiction

Two statements that do not seem to agree with one another. "I heard a soundless shout" is a contradiction.

Crisis or climax

The moment or event in the plot where the conflict is most directly addressed. Here, the main character usually "wins" or "loses". After the climax, there is a denouement (falling action).

D

Denotation

The real, direct meaning of a word, like a "dictionary definition". For example, the word "dog" denotes a mammal from the family Canidae with four legs that is often kept as a pet.

Dialectic

Looking at and thinking about opinions or ideas logically, often by questions and answers.

Digression

Using material that is not related to the subject of the work. Henry Fielding often used digression in his novels.

Drama

A story written to be performed by actors. The person who writes the play writes dialogue for the characters to speak and directions for costumes, lighting, setting, and the character's movements.

Dramatic monologue

A poem or speech in which an imaginary character speaks to a silent listener.

E

Elegy

A solemn, formal poem about death, often for a dead person or thing. It often begins with "In Memory of..."

Ellipsis

Ellipses are used often in everyday life as well as in literature. They usually look like this (...). It is usually used in leaving out or not using words.

Epic poetry

An epic is a long narrative poem. The subject is usually serious, like something that was an important influence to a culture or nation.[2]

Epigraph

A sentence, quotation, or poem that is put at the beginning of a written work.

Epilogue

A piece of writing at the end of a work of literature, especially in drama. It is usually different from the whole work and is used to end it.

Essay

A short nonfiction work about a special subject from the writer's point of view. Essay comes from the Old French word essai, meaning "a trial, try, or attempt".[3]

I

Idyll

A short poem about simple everyday life, sometimes written in a pastoral (about shepherd life) or sentimental style.

Imagery

Imagery is strong describing language which helps us use our senses and memory when we read.

Irony

Irony means to say something while meaning a different, contradictory thing.

References

  1. Northrop Frye, "Myth, Fiction, And Displacement" p 25 Fables of Identity: Studies in Poetic Mythology, ISBN 0-15-629730-2
  2. Michael Meyer, The Bedford Introduction to Literature, St. Martin's, 2005, p 2128. ISBN 0-312-41242-8
  3. "Online Etymology Dictionary". etymonline.com. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=essay&searchmode=none. Retrieved 18 September 2010. 


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