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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.
* Objective correlative
An objective correlative is a literary term referring to a symbolic article used to provide explicit, rather than implicit, access to such traditionally inexplicable concepts as emotion or colour.
The theory of the objective correlative as it relates to literature was largely developed through the writings of the literary critic and author T.S. Eliot, who is associated with the Formalist interpretation of literature. Helping define the objective correlative, T.S. Eliot’s essay “Hamlet and His Problems” in his book The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism discusses his view of Shakespeare’s incomplete development of Hamlet’s emotions. In this essay, Eliot states: “The artistic ‘inevitability’ lies in this complete adequacy of the external to the emotion….”. According to Eliot, the feelings of Hamlet are not sufficiently supported by the story and the other characters surrounding him. The objective correlative’s purpose is to express the character’s emotions by showing rather than describing feelings as pictured earlier by Plato and referred to by Peter Barry in his book Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory as “…perhaps little more than the ancient distinction (first made by Plato) between mimesis and diegesis….” (28). According to Formalist critics, this action of creating an emotion through external factors and evidence linked together and thus forming an objective correlative should produce an author’s detachment from the depicted character and unite the emotion of the literary work.
Octameter in poetry is a line of eight metrical feet. It is not very common in English verse. E.g: -
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore-
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door
(Edgar Allan Poe, "The Raven")
* Octave (poetry)
An octave is a verse form consisting of eight lines of iambic pentameter (in English) or of hendecasyllables (in Italian). The most common rhyme scheme for an octave is abba abba.
An octave is the first part of a Petrarchan sonnet, which ends with a contrasting sestet. In traditional Italian sonnets the octave always ends with a conclusion of one idea, giving way to another idea in the sestet. Some English sonnets break that rule, often to striking effect. In Milton's Sonnet 19, the sestet begins early, halfway through the last line of the octave:
When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait."
Patience's too-quick reply intrudes upon the integrity of the octave. Since "prevent" also means "anticipate," it is as if Patience is giving the answer before the question is finished.
Octaves are also used in the Petrarchan lover.
Ode (from the Ancient Greek ὠδή) is a type of lyrical verse. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode. Different forms such as the homostrophic ode and the irregular ode also exist. It is an elaborately structured poem praising or glorifying an event or individual, describing nature intellectually rather than emotionally.
Contrary to a few scholars, the Greek odes did not lose their musical quality; they were originally symphonic orchestras accompanied by a poem sung. As time passed on, they gradually became known as simple poems whether sung or recited (with or without music). Most likely the primary instrument of choice was eventually narrowed down to the aulos as well as the lyre. The written ode, as it was practiced by the Romans, returned to the lyrical form of the Lesbian lyricists. This was exemplified, exquisitely, by Horace and Catullus; the odes of Horace deliberately imitated the Greek lyricists such as Alcaeus and Anacreon, and the poetry of Catullus was particularly inspired by Sappho.
* Oedipus complex
In psychoanalytic theory, the term Oedipus complex denotes the emotions and ideas that the mind keeps in the unconscious, via dynamic repression, that concentrate upon a boy’s desire to sexually possess his mother, and kill his father. In the course of his psychosexual development, the complex is the boy’s phallic stage formation of a discrete sexual identity; a girl’s analogous experience is the Electra complex. The Oedipus complex occurs in the third — phallic stage (ages 3–6) — of five psychosexual development stages: the Oral, the Anal, the Phallic, the Latent, and) the Genital — in which the source libido pleasure is in a different erogenous zone of the infant’s body.
In classical, Freudian psychoanalytic theory, the child’s identification with the same-sex parent is the successful resolution of the Oedipus complex and of the Electra complex; his and her key psychological experience to developing a mature sexual role and identity. Sigmund Freud further proposed that girls and boys resolved their complexes differently — he via castration anxiety, she via penis envy; and that unsuccessful resolutions might lead to neurosis, paedophilia, and homosexuality. Hence, men and women who are fixated in the Oedipal and Electra stages of their psychosexual development might be considered “mother-fixated” and “father-fixated” as revealed when the mate (sexual partner) resembles the mother or the father.
An onomatopoeia or onomatopœia (Greek ὀνοματοποιία; ὄνομα for "name" and ποιέω for "I make", adjectival form: "onomatopoeic" or "onomatopoetic") is a word that imitates or suggests the source of the sound that it describes. Onomatopoeia (as an uncountable noun) refers to the property of such words. Common occurrences of onomatopoeias include animal noises, such as "oink" or "meow" or "roar". Onomatopoeias are not the same across all languages; they conform to some extent to the broader linguistic system they are part of; hence the sound of a clock may be tick tock in English, dī dā in Mandarin, or katchin katchin in Japanese.
Oulipo (French pronunciation: [ulipo], short for French: Ouvroir de littérature potentielle; roughly translated: "workshop of potential literature") is a loose gathering of (mainly) French-speaking writers and mathematicians which seeks to create works using constrained writing techniques. It was founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais. Other notable members include novelists Georges Perec and Italo Calvino, poet Oskar Pastior and poet/mathematician Jacques Roubaud.
The group defines the term littérature potentielle as (rough translation): "the seeking of new structures and patterns which may be used by writers in any way they enjoy."
Constraints are used as a means of triggering ideas and inspiration, most notably Perec's "story-making machine", which he used in the construction of Life: A User's Manual. As well as established techniques, such as lipograms (Perec's novel A Void) and palindromes, the group devises new techniques, often based on mathematical problems, such as the Knight's Tour of the chess-board and permutations.
* Ottava rima
Ottava rima is a rhyming stanza form of Italian origin. Originally used for long poems on heroic themes, it later came to be popular in the writing of mock-heroic works. Its earliest known use is in the writings of Giovanni Boccaccio.
The ottava rima stanza in English consists of eight iambic lines, usually iambic pentameters. Each stanza consists of three alternate rhymes and one double rhyme, following the a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c pattern. The form is similar to the older Sicilian octave, but evolved separately and is unrelated. The Sicilian octave is derived from the medieval strambotto and was a crucial step in the development of the sonnet, whereas the ottava rima is related to the canzone, a stanza form.
* OxymoronAn oxymoron (plural oxymorons or oxymora) (from Greek ὀξύμωρον, "sharp dull") is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms. Oxymorons appear in a variety of contexts, including inadvertent errors such as extremely average and literary oxymorons crafted to reveal a paradox.
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Published - February 2011
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