Glossary of literature

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Glossary of Literary Terms


Used as a noun, the term refers to a short summary or outline of a longer work. As an adjective applied to writing or literary works, abstract refers to words or phrases that name things not knowable through the five senses.
The emphasis or stress placed on a syllable in poetry. Traditional poetry commonly uses patterns ofaccented and unaccented syllables (known as feet) that create distinct rhythms. Much modern poetry uses less formal arrangements that create a sense of freedom and spontaneity.
A literary and artistic movement of the nineteenth century. Followers of the movement believed that art should not be mixed with social, political, or moral teaching. The statement "art for art's sake" is agood summary of aestheticism. The movement had its roots in France, but it gained widespread importance in England in the last half of the nineteenth century, where it helped change the Victorian practice of including moral lessons in literature.
Affective Fallacy:
An error in judging the merits or faults of a work of literature. The "error" results from stressing the importance of thework's effect upon the reader—that is, how it makes a reader "feel" emotionally, what it does as a literary work—instead of stressing its inner qualities as a created object, or what it "is."
Age of Johnson:
The period in English literature between 1750 and 1798, named after the most prominent literary figure of the age, Samuel Johnson. Works written during this time are noted for theiremphasis on "sensibility," or emotional quality. These works formed a transition between the rational works of the Age of Reason, or Neoclassical period, and the emphasis on individual feelings and responses of the Romantic period.
Age of Reason:
See Neoclassicism
Age of Sensibility:
See Age of Johnson
A group of Southern American writers of the 1930s and 1940s whofostered an economic and cultural program for the South based on agriculture, in opposition to the industrial society of the North. The term can refer to any group that promotes the value of farm life and agricultural society.
Alexandrine Meter:
See Meter
A narrative technique in which characters representing things or abstract ideas are used to convey a message or teach alesson. Allegory is typically used to teach moral, ethical, or religious lessons but is sometimes used for satiric or political purposes.
A poetic device where the first consonant sounds or any vowel sounds in words or syllables are repeated.
A reference to a familiar literary or historical person or event, used to make an idea more easily understood.Amerind Literature:
The writing and oral traditions of Native Americans. Native American literature was originally passed on by word of mouth, so it consisted largely of stories and events that were easily memorized. Amerind prose is often rhythmic like poetry because it was recited to the beat of a ceremonial drum.

A comparison of two things made to explain somethingunfamiliar through its similarities to something familiar, or to prove one point based on the acceptedness of another. Similes and metaphors are types of analogies.
See Foot
Angry Young Men:
A group of British writers of the 1950s whose work expressed bitterness and disillusionment with society. Common to their work is an antihero who rebels against a corrupt social order andstrives for personal integrity.
The presentation of animals or objects in human shape or with human characteristics. The term is derived from the Greek word for "human form."
See Masque
The antithesis of something is its direct opposite. In literature, the use of antithesis as a figure of speech results in two statements that show a...
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