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Literary Terms Glossary
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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.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W

* Palinode

A palinode or palinody is an ode in which the writer retracts a view or sentiment expressed in an earlier poem. The first recorded use of a palinode is in a poem by Stesichorus in the 7th century BC. Here he retracts his earlier statement that the Trojan War was all the fault of Helen.

The word comes from the Greek παλιν ("palin", meaning 'again') and ωδη ("song"); the Latin equivalent "recantation" is an exact calque ("re-" meaning 'again' and "cant-" meaning 'sing').

It can also be a recantation of a defamatory statement in Scots Law.

* Pantoum

The pantoum is a form of poetry similar to a villanelle in that there are repeating lines throughout the poem. It is composed of a series of quatrains; the second and fourth lines of each stanza are repeated as the first and third lines of the next. This pattern continues for any number of stanzas, except for the final stanza, which differs in the repeating pattern. The first and third lines of the last stanza are the second and fourth of the penultimate; the first line of the poem is the last line of the final stanza, and the third line of the first stanza is the second of the final. Ideally, the meaning of lines shifts when they are repeated although the words remain exactly the same: this can be done by shifting punctuation, punning, or simply recontextualizing.

* Pantun

The pantun is a Malay poetic form. The pantun originated as a traditional oral form of expression. The first examples to be recorded appear in the 15th century in the Malay Annals and the Hikayat Hang Tuah. The most common theme is love.

In its most basic form the pantun consists of a quatrain which employs an abab rhyme scheme. A pantun is traditionally recited according to a fixed rhythm and as a rule of thumb, in order not to deviate from the rhythm, every line should contain between eight and 12 syllables. "The pantun is a four-lined verse consisting of alternating, roughly rhyming lines. The first and second lines sometimes appear completely disconnected in meaning from the third and fourth, but there is almost invariably a link of some sort. Whether it be a mere association of ideas, or of feeling, expressed through assonance or through the faintest nuance of a thought, it is nearly always traceable" (Sim, page 12). The pantun is highly allusive and in order to understand it readers generally need to know the traditional meaning of the symbols the poem employs. An example (followed by a translation by Katharine Sim):

Tanam selasih di tengah padang,
Sudah bertangkai diurung semut,
Kita kasih orang tak sayang,
Halai-balai tempurung hanyut.
I planted sweet-basil in mid-field
Grown, it swarmed with ants,
I loved but am not loved,
I am all confused and helpless.

* Parable

A parable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, that illustrates a lesson. It differs from a fable in that fables use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters, while parables generally feature human characters. It is a type of analogy.

Some scholars of the Canonical gospels and the New Testament apply the term "parable" only to the parables of Jesus, though that is not a common restriction of the term. Parables such as "The Prodigal Son" are central to Jesus' teaching method in both the canonical narratives and the apocrypha.

* Paraklausithyron

Paraclausithyron (Ancient Greek: ωδηπαρακλαυσίθυρον) is a motif in Greek and especially Augustan love elegy, as well as in troubadour poetry.

The details of the Greek etymology are uncertain, but it is generally accepted to mean "lament beside a door", from παρακλαίω, "lament beside", and θύρα, "door". A paraklausithyron typically includes a lover (an exclusus amator) outside his mistress's door. Catullus (67) engages the door in dialogue; Horace offers a less-than-serious lament in Odes 3.10 and even threatens the door in 3.26; Tibullus (1.2) appeals to the door itself; in Propertius (1.16), the door is the sole speaker. In Ovid's Amores (1.6), the speaker claims he would gladly trade places with the door keeper, a slave who is shackled to his post, as he begs the door-keeper to allow him access to his mistress, Corinna. In the Metamorphoses, the famous wall (invide obstas) with its chink (vitium) that separates the star-crossed lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe, seems to be an extension of this motif. The appeal of the paraclausithyron derives from its condensing of the situation of love elegy to the barest essentials: the lover, the beloved and the obstacle, allowing poets to ring variations on a basic theme. This feature of amatory poetry may owe its origin to Greek New Comedy; as is often the case scholars look to Roman comedy to supply the deficiencies of the highly fragmentary remains of the Greek models and in lines 55 to 65 of Plautus' Curculio is a specimen of a short but nonetheless completely bona fide paraclausithyron.

The motif is not merely a historical phenomenon: it continues in contemporary songwriting. Steve Earle's song "More Than I Can Do," for example, gives a typical paraklausithyronic situation with such lines as "Just because you won't unlock your door /That don't mean you don't love me anymore."

* Paradelle

A paradelle is a modern poetic form which was invented by United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins as a parody of the villanelle.

Billy Collins originally said the paradelle was invented in eleventh century France, but he later admitted that he invented it himself to parody strict forms of poetry, particularly the villanelle.[1] His sample paradelle, "Paradelle for Susan" (c1997), was seemingly intentionally terrible, completing the final stanza with the line "Darken the mountain, time and find was my into it was with to to".

* Paradox (literature)

In literature, the paradox is an anomalous juxtaposition of incongruous ideas for the sake of striking exposition or unexpected insight. It functions as a method of literary composition - and analysis - which involves examining apparently contradictory statements and drawing conclusions either to reconcile them or to explain their presence.

Literary or rhetorical paradoxes abound in the works of Oscar Wilde and G. K. Chesterton. Other literature deals with paradox of situation; Rabelais, Cervantes, Sterne, Borges, and Chesterton are recognized as masters of situational as well as verbal paradox. Statements such as Wilde’s “I can resist anything except temptation” and Chesterton’s “spies do not look like spies” are examples of rhetorical paradox. Further back, Polonius’ observation that “though this be madness, yet there is method in’t” is a memorable third. Also, statements that are illogical and metaphoric may be called "paradoxes", for example "the pike flew to the tree to sing". The literal meaning is illogical, but there are many interpretations for this metaphor.

* Paraphrase

Paraphrase is restatement of a text or passages, using other words. The term "paraphrase" derives via the Latin "paraphrasis" from the Greek para phraseïn, meaning "additional manner of expression". The act of paraphrasing is also called "paraphrasis."

A paraphrase typically explains or clarifies the text that is being paraphrased. For example, "The signal was red" might be paraphrased as "The train was not allowed to proceed." When accompanying the original statement, a paraphrase is usually introduced with a verbum dicendi — a declaratory expression to signal the transition to the paraphrase. For example, in "The signal was red, that is, the train was not allowed to proceed," the "that is"signals the paraphrase that follows.

A paraphrase does not need to accompany a direct quotation, but when this is so, the paraphrase typically serves to put the source's statement into perspective or to clarify the context in which it appeared. A paraphrase is typically more detailed than a summary. One should add the source at the end of the sentence, for example: When the light was red trains could not go (Wikipedia).

Paraphrase may attempt to preserve the essential meaning of the material being paraphrased. Thus, the (intentional or otherwise) reinterpretation of a source to infer a meaning that is not explicitly evident in the source itself qualifies as "original research," and not as paraphrase.

Unlike a metaphrase, which represents a "formal equivalent" of the source, a paraphrase represents a "dynamic equivalent" thereof. While a metaphrase attempts to translate a text literally, a paraphrase conveys the essential thought expressed in a source text — if necessary, at the expense of literality. For details, see "Dynamic and formal equivalence."

The term is applied to the genre of Biblical paraphrases, which were the most widely circulated versions of the Bible available in medieval Europe. Here, the purpose was not to render an exact rendition of the meaning or the complete text, but to present material from the Bible in a version that was theologically orthodox and not subject to heretical interpretation, or, in most cases, to take from the Bible and present to a wide public material that was interesting, entertaining and spiritually meaningful, or, simply to abridge the text.

* Pararhyme

Pararhyme, also known as partial or imperfect rhyme is a term devised by the poet Edmund Blunden to describe a near rhyme in which the consonants in two words are the same, but the vowels are different. It is distinguished from half rhyme in that all the consonants should match rather than just the final ones.

Pararhyme is sometimes referred to as double consonance. It is a particular feature of the poetry of Wilfred Owen; see, for example Strange Meeting: “And by his smile I knew that sullen hall, / By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.” The lack of rhyming sounds here and the very failure of two similar words to rhyme can provoke a sense of great discomfort and a sense that something is simply not quite right. It is a discordant note that matches well to the disturbing mood of the poem.

* Parataxis

Parataxis (from Greek for 'act of placing side by side'; fr. para, beside + tassein, to arrange; contrasted to syntaxis) is a literary technique, in writing or speaking, that favors short, simple sentences, without the use of coordinating or subordinating conjunctions. It can be contrasted with hypotaxis.

It is also used to describe a technique in poetry in which two images or fragments, usually starkly dissimilar images or fragments, are juxtaposed without a clear connection. Readers are then left to make their own connections implied by the paratactic syntax. Ezra Pound, in his adaptation of Chinese and Japanese poetry, made the stark juxtaposition of images an important part of English language poetry.

* Partimen

The partimen, partiment, partia, or joc partit is a genre of Occitan lyric poetry composed between two troubadours, a subgenre of the tenso or cobla exchange in which one poet presents a dilemma in the form of a question and the two debate the answer, each taking up a different side. It was especially popular in poetic contests.

* Pastourelle

The pastourelle is a typically Old French lyric form concerning the romance of a shepherdess. In most of the early pastourelles, the poet knight meets a shepherdess who bests him in a wit battle and who displays general coyness. The narrator usually has sexual relations, either consensual or rape, with the shepherdess, and there is a departure or escape. Later developments moved toward pastoral poetry by having a shepherd and sometimes a love quarrel. The form originated with the troubadour poets of the 12th century and particularly with the poet Marcabru.

This troubadour form melded with goliard poetry and was practiced in France and Occitan until the Carmina Burana of c. 1230. In Spanish literature, the pastourelle influenced the serranilla, and fifteenth century pastourelles exist in French, German, English, and Welsh. One short Scots example is Robene and Makyne. Adam de la Halle's Jeu de Robin et Marion (the game of Robin and Maid Marion) is a dramatization of a pastourelle, and as late as Edmund Spenser the pastourelle is referred to in book six of Faerie Queene. Child's ballads gives an example in The Baffled Knight.

* Pathetic fallacy

The pathetic fallacy or anthropomorphic fallacy is the treatment of inanimate objects as if they had human feelings, thought, or sensations. The pathetic fallacy is a special case of the fallacy of reification. The word 'pathetic' in this use is related to 'pathos' or 'empathy' (capability of feeling), and is not pejorative.

In the discussion of literature, the pathetic fallacy is similar to personification. Personification is direct and explicit in the ascription of life and sentience to the thing in question, whereas the pathetic fallacy is much broader and more allusive. "Personification" is a more obtrusive and formal use of human traits attributed to natural objects, according to M. H. Abrams.

* Pathya Vat

The Pathya Vat is a Cambodian verse form, consisting of four lines, where lines two and three rhyme. When a poem consists more than one stanza, the last line of the previous stanza rhymes with the second and third lines of the following one.

The form is traditionally recited or sung in many different styles, including:

kmeng vatt (temple boy)
piporanea (description)
tumnuonh (grief)
smaut (reciting)
kamhoeung (anger)
chbapp (traditional code)
ka-ek lot (crow hops)
ka-ek baul (crow calls)

* Parallelism (grammar)

In grammar, parallelism is a balance of two or more similar words, phrases, or clauses. The application of parallelism in sentence construction can sometimes improve writing style clearness and readability. It can also strengthen sequences described. Parallelism may also be known as parallel structure or parallel construction. In English, parallelism of the predicate provides for one of the few structural situations in which the subject for each verb does not need restatement. Parallelism is often achieved in conjunction with other stylistic principles, such as antithesis, anaphora, asyndeton, climax, epistrophe, and symploce.

* Parody

A parody (also called send-up, spoof or lampoon), in contemporary usage, is a work created to mock, comment on, or make fun at an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation. As the literary theorist Linda Hutcheon (2000: 7) puts it, "parody … is imitation, not always at the expense of the parodied text." Another critic, Simon Dentith (2000: 9), defines parody as "any cultural practice which provides a relatively polemical allusive imitation of another cultural production or practice." Often, the most satisfying element of a good parody is seeing others mistake it for the genuine article.

Parody may be found in music, art or culture, including literature, music (although "parody" in music has an earlier, somewhat different meaning than for other art forms), animation, gaming and cinema.

* Pastoral

Pastoral refers as an adjective to the lifestyle of pastoralists, such as shepherds herding livestock around open areas of land according to seasons and the changing availability of water and pasturage. It also refers to a genre in literature, art or music that depicts such shepherd life, usually in an idealized manner and for urban audiences. When used as a noun, a pastoral, it refers to a single work of such poetry, music or drama.

An alternative word for pastoral as a genre, both in adjectival and noun form, is bucolic, from the Greek βουκóλος, meaning a cowherd.

* Pathos

Pathos (Greek: πάθος, for "suffering" or "experience;" adjectival form: 'pathetic' from παθητικός) represents an appeal to the audience's emotions. Pathos is a communication technique used most often in rhetoric (where it is considered one of the three modes of persuasion, alongside ethos and logos), and in literature, film and other narrative art.

Emotional appeal can be accomplished in a multitude of ways:

  • by a metaphor or story telling, common as a hook,
  • by a general passion in the delivery and an overall emotion and sympathies of the speech or writing as determined by the audience. The pathos of a speech or writing is only ultimately determined by the hearers.
  • Pathos is often associated with emotions, but it is more complex than simply emotions. A better equivalent might be appeal to the audience's sympathies and imagination. An appeal to pathos causes an audience not just to respond emotionally but to identify with the writer's point of view - to feel what the writer feels. In this sense, pathos evokes a meaning implicit in the verb 'to suffer' - to feel pain imaginatively. Perhaps the most common way of conveying a pathetic appeal is through narrative or story, which can turn the abstractions of logic into something palpable and present. The values, beliefs, and understandings of the writer are implicit in the story and conveyed imaginatively to the reader. Pathos thus refers to both the emotional and the imaginative impact of the message on an audience, the power with which the writer's message moves the audience to decision or action.

    * Pentameter

    Pentameter may refer to:

  • the iambic pentameter of the modern period
  • the dactylic pentameter of antiquity
  • * Periodic sentence

  • A periodic sentence is a sentence that is not grammatically complete until the final clause or phrase. Accomplished by the use of parallel phrases or clauses at the opening, or by the use of a succession of dependent clauses as modifiers preceding the independent clause, the periodic sentence unfolds gradually, so that the pollen of thought contained in the subject/verb group shows itself in full only at the sentence's end. It is the opposite of the loose sentence, also continuous or running style, where the subject and verb are introduced at the beginning of the sentence. The running style adds phrase onto phrase, and clause onto clause, with each new thought following the last but without any hint in what came before of what might follow, rather than being embedded within each other in a hierarchical structure, as happens in a fugue. Periodic sentences often rely on hypotaxis, whereas running sentences are typified by parataxis.
  • The periodic style, used by ancient Greek writers like Hecataeus of Miletus and Herodotus, and popularized by Sophists like Lysias and especially the rhetorician Isocrates, due to the excesses of all these ancient practitioners, ultimately fell out of favor. This style, because it delays the completion of its meaning for rhetorical effect (like suspense or amplification), runs counter to current preferences for brevity and simplicity and is best used sparingly. Today, the term "period" is an American term for the punctuation mark generally known as the full stop.
  • * Peripeteia

    Peripeteia (Greek, Περιπέτεια) is a reversal of circumstances, or turning point. The term is primarily used with reference to works of literature. The English form of peripeteia is peripety. Peripety is a sudden reversal dependent on intellect and logic. In modern Greek περιπέτεια means adventure.

    * Persona

    A personality, in the word's everyday usage, is a social role or a character played by an actor. This is an Italian word that derives from the Latin for a kind of mask made to resonate with the voice of the actor (per sonare meaning "to sound through").

    The Latin word probably derived from the Etruscan word "phersu", with the same meaning, and that from the Greek "πρόσωπον". Its meaning in the latter Roman period changed to indicate a "character" of a theatrical performance.

    * Personification

    Personification is an ontological metaphor in which a thing or abstraction is represented as a person.

    The term "personification" may apply to:

  • A description of an object as being a living person or animal as in: "The sun shone brightly down on me as if she were shining for me alone". In this example the sun is depicted as if capable of intent, and is referenced with the pronoun "she" rather than "it".
  • An outstanding example of a quality or idea: "He's invisible, a walking personification of the Negative" (Ralph Ellison).
  • An artistic representation of an abstract quality or idea as a person, for example the four cardinal virtues or nine Muses.
  • * Phronesis

    Phronēsis (Greek: φρόνησις) in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is the virtue of practical thought, usually translated "practical wisdom", sometimes as "prudence".

    Aristotle distinguishes between two intellectual virtues: sophia and phronesis. Sophia (usually translated "wisdom") is the ability to think well about the nature of the world, to discern why the world is the way it is (this is sometimes equated with science); sophia involves deliberation concerning universal truths. Phronesis is the capability to consider the mode of action in order to deliver change, especially to enhance the quality of life. Aristotle says that phronesis is not simply a skill, however, as it involves not only the ability to decide how to achieve a certain end, but also the ability to reflect upon and determine that end (this latter point is denied by some commentators, who contend that Aristotle considers the desired end, eudaimonia, to be given, such that phronesis is merely the ability to achieve that end).

    * Pièce bien faite - Well-made play

    * Picaresque novel

    The picaresque novel (Spanish: "picaresca", from "pícaro", for "rogue" or "rascal") is a popular sub-genre of prose fiction which is usually satirical and depicts, in realistic and often humorous detail, the adventures of a roguish hero of low social class who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. This style of novel originated in sixteenth century Spain and flourished throughout Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It continues to influence modern literature.

    * Platonic idealism

    Platonic idealism usually refers to Plato's theory of forms or doctrine of ideas, the exact philosophical meaning of which is perhaps one of the most disputed questions in higher academic philosophy. At least one may say, with some degree of certitude, that Plato held the realm of ideas to be absolute reality. As for the exact relationship between the ideal and non-ideal world, the platonic corpus is silent, insofar as interpretation must rely upon literary device, metaphor, and amphibology. Some commentators hold Plato argued that truth is an abstraction. In other words, we are urged to believe that Plato's theory of ideas is an abstraction, divorced from the so-called external world, of modern European philosophy, despite the fact Plato taught that ideas are ultimately real, and different from non-ideal things--indeed, he argued for a distinction between the ideal and non-ideal realm.

    These commentators speak thus: For example, a particular tree, with a branch or two missing, possibly alive, possibly dead, and with the initials of two lovers carved into its bark, is distinct from the abstract form of Tree-ness. A Tree is the ideal that each of us holds that allows us to identify the imperfect reflections of trees all around us.

    * Plot (narrative)

    Plot is a literary term for the events a story comprises, particularly as they relate to one another in a pattern, a sequence, through cause and effect, or by coincidence. One is generally interested in how well this pattern of events accomplishes some artistic or emotional effect. An intricate, complicated plot is called an imbroglio, but even the simplest statements of plot may include multiple inferences, as in traditional ballads.

    * Poetry

    Poetry (from the [Greek] 'poiesis'/ποίησις, a making: a forming, creating, or the art of poetry, or a poem) is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning. Poetry may be written independently, as discrete poems, or may occur in conjunction with other arts, as in poetic drama, hymns, lyrics, or prose poetry. It is published in dedicated magazines (the longest established being Poetry and Oxford Poetry), individual collections and wider anthologies.

    Poetry and discussions of it have a long history. Early attempts to define poetry, such as Aristotle's Poetics, focused on the uses of speech in rhetoric, drama, song, and comedy. Later attempts concentrated on features such as repetition, verse form and rhyme, and emphasized the aesthetics which distinguish poetry from more objectively informative, prosaic forms of writing, such as manifestos, biographies, essays, and novels . From the mid-20th century, poetry has sometimes been more loosely defined as a fundamental creative act using language.

    Poetry often uses particular forms and conventions to suggest alternative meanings in the words, or to evoke emotional or sensual responses. Devices such as assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and rhythm are sometimes used to achieve musical or incantatory effects. The use of ambiguity, symbolism, irony, and other stylistic elements of poetic diction often leaves a poem open to multiple interpretations. Similarly, metaphor, simile, and metonymy create a resonance between otherwise disparate images—a layering of meanings, forming connections previously not perceived. Kindred forms of resonance may exist, between individual verses, in their patterns of rhyme or rhythm.

    Some forms of poetry are specific to particular cultures and genres, responding to the characteristics of the language in which the poet writes. While readers accustomed to identifying poetry with Dante, Goethe, Mickiewicz and Rumi may think of it as being written in lines based upon rhyme and regular meter, there are traditions, such as Biblical poetry, that use other approaches to achieve rhythm and euphony. Much of modern British and American poetry is to some extent a critique of poetic tradition, playing with and testing (among other things) the principle of euphony itself, to the extent that sometimes it deliberately does not rhyme or keep to set rhythms at all. In today's globalized world poets often borrow styles, techniques and forms from diverse cultures and languages.

    * Poem and song - Lyrics

    Lyrics (in singular form lyric) are a set of words that make up a song. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist or lyrist. The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of expression. The lyricist of traditional musical forms such as Opera is known as a librettist.

    * Poetic diction

    Poetic diction is the term used to refer to the linguistic style, the vocabulary, and the metaphors used in the writing of poetry. In the Western tradition, all these elements were thought of as properly different in poetry and prose up to the time of the Romantic revolution, when William Wordsworth challenged the distinction in his Romantic manifesto, the Preface to the third (1802) edition of Lyrical Ballads (1798). Wordsworth proposed that a "language near to the language of men" was as appropriate for poetry as it was for prose. This idea was very influential, though more in theory than practice: a special "poetic" vocabulary and mode of metaphor persisted in 19th century poetry. It was deplored by the Modernist poets of the 20th century, who again proposed that there is no such thing as a "prosaic"

    * Poetic transrealism

    Transrealism in poetry or uchronism, according to this poetic movement's father, the Chilean poet Sergio Badilla Castillo, is created upon a transposition of time, which means that temporary scenes merge, in the textual corpus, and in this way linear coherence between the past, the present and the future is interrupted and reality turns into a kind of derivation or timeless link to a beyond-time, where poetic pictures and actions are represented or performed. This is how the temporal idea acquires a parachronic character or parachrony.

    Another element of this transience is uchrony starting from a point in the past where something happened, in a different way or as it has happened, in reality (what could have been but wasn't), in material temporality, but nevertheless is possible to express itself as an element situated in abstract space, supported by the theories of Einstein and Planck, regarding the spacetime combination.

    As to a quantum, Badilla Castillo claims that poetic transrealism considers the concrete world of apparent experience to be dissolved between transformational mixture and subatomic conversions constantly confronted by matter. Chaos is in the heart of matter, it is the substantial and fortuitous element of the transformations of the cosmos before our singular and meager daily perception.

    The greatest certainty we have as creative and poetic beings, according to transrealism, is that the universe imposes its major changes in the perceptive and imaginary capacity of the human brain, which this assumes as reality, subjective and full of symbolisms and delusions. Another major characteristic of Badilla's transrealism is an assembly between reality and myth, where there is no difference between certainty and uncertainty. For him, evidence is an act of chamanism, determined by the circumstances and alteration of a spacetime balance.

    * Point of view - Narrative mode

    The narrative mode (also known as the mode of narration) is the set of methods the author of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical story uses to convey the plot to the audience. Narration, the process of presenting the narrative, occurs because of the narrative mode. It encompasses several overlapping areas of concern, most importantly narrative point-of-view, which determines through whose perspective the story is viewed; narrative voice, which determines the manner through which the story is communicated to the author to be the same person. However, the narrator may be a fictive person devised by the author as a stand-alone entity, or even a character. The narrator is considered participant if an actual character in the story, and nonparticipant if only an implied character, or a sort of omniscient or semi-omniscient being who does not take part in the story but only relates it to the audience.

    * Polysyndeton

    Polysyndeton is the use of several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted (as in "he ran and jumped and laughed for joy"). It is a stylistic scheme used to achieve a variety of effects: it can increase the rhythm of prose, speed or slow its pace, convey solemnity or even ecstasy and childlike exuberance. In grammar, a polysyndetic coordination is a coordination in which all conjuncts are linked by coordinating conjunctions (usually and, but, or, nor in English).

    * Postcolonialism

    Post-colonialism (postcolonial theory, post-colonial theory) is a specifically post-modern intellectual discourse that consists of reactions to, and analysis of, the cultural legacy of colonialism. Postcolonialism comprises a set of theories found amongst philosophy, film, political science, human geography, sociology, feminism, religious and theological studies, and literature.

    * Postmodernism

    Postmodernism is a movement away from the viewpoint of modernism. More specifically it is a tendency in contemporary culture characterized by the problematization of objective truth and inherent suspicion towards global cultural narrative or meta-narrative. It involves the belief that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs, as they are subject to change inherent to time and place. It emphasizes the role of language, power relations, and motivations; in particular it attacks the use of sharp classifications such as male versus female, straight versus gay, white versus black, and imperial versus colonial. Rather, it holds realities to be plural and relative, and dependent on who the interested parties are and what their interests consist in. It attempts to problematise modernist overconfidence, by drawing into sharp contrast the difference between how confident a speaker is of their position versus how confident they need to be to serve their supposed purposes. Postmodernism has influenced many cultural fields, including literary criticism, sociology, linguistics, architecture, visual arts, and music.

    Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from modernist approaches that had previously been dominant. The term "postmodernism" comes from its critique of the "modernist" scientific mentality of objectivity and progress associated with the Enlightenment.

    These movements, modernism and postmodernism, are understood as cultural projects or as a set of perspectives. "Postmodernism" is used in critical theory to refer to a point of departure for works of literature, drama, architecture, cinema, journalism, and design, as well as in marketing and business and in the interpretation of law, culture, and religion in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Indeed, postmodernism, particularly as an academic movement, can be understood as a reaction to modernism in the Humanities. Whereas modernism was primarily concerned with principles such as identity, unity, authority, and certainty, postmodernism is often associated with difference, plurality, textuality, and skepticism.

    Literary critic Fredric Jameson describes postmodernism as the "dominant cultural logic of late capitalism." "Late capitalism" refers to the phase of capitalism after World War II, as described by economist Ernest Mandel; the term refers to the same period sometimes described by "globalization", "multinational capitalism", or "consumer capitalism". Jameson's work studies the postmodern in contexts of aesthetics, politics, philosophy, and economics.

    * Pound's Ideogrammic Method

    The Ideogrammic Method was a technique expounded by Ezra Pound which allowed poetry to deal with abstract content through concrete images. The idea was based on Pound's reading of the work of Ernest Fenollosa.

    Pound gives a brief account of it in his book The ABC of Reading (1934). He explains his understanding of the way Chinese characters were formed, with the example of the character 'East' (東) being essentially a superposition of the characters for 'tree' (木) and 'sun' (日); that is, a picture of the sun tangled in a tree's branches, suggesting a sunrise (which occurs in the East). He then suggests how, with such a system where concepts are built up from concrete instances, the (abstract) concept of 'red' might be presented by putting together the (concrete) pictures of:

    ROSE CHERRY
    IRON RUST FLAMINGO

    This was a key idea in the development of Imagism.

    * Primal scene

    In psychoanalysis, the primal scene is the initial witnessing by a child of a sex act, usually between the parents, that traumatizes the psychosexual development of that child. The scene witnessed may also occur between animals, and be displaced onto humans.

    In literary criticism, the term refers to a kind of intertextuality in which the ability to interpret one text depends on the meaning of another text.

    * Procatalepsis

    Procatalepsis, also called prebuttal, is a figure of speech in which the speaker raises an objection to his own argument and then immediately answers it. By doing so, he hopes to strengthen his argument by dealing with possible counter-arguments before his audience can raise them.

    Example:

  • "It is difficult to see how a pilot boat could be completely immune to capsizing or plunging, but pilot boat design criteria must meet the needs of the industry and pilotage authorities."
  • * Prolepsise

    Prolepsis may refer to:

  • Flashforward, in storytelling, an interjected scene that takes the narrative forward
  • Prolepsis (album), 1975 work by Arrogance
  • Procatalepsis, or prebuttal, a figure of speech in which the speaker raises an objection to their own argument and then immediately answers it.
  • Cataphora, linguistics term to describe an expression that co-refers with a later expression in the discourse
  • Déjà vu, the experience of feeling sure that one has already witnessed or experienced a current situation
  • Foreshadowing, literary technique to give clues to allow a reader to predict what will happen
  • Prolepsis, or preconceptions, one of the three criteria of truth in Epicureanism
  • * Prologue

    A prologue (Greek πρόλογος prologos, from προ~, pro~ - fore~, and lógos, word), or prolog, is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. The Greek prologos included the modern meaning of prologue, but was of wider significance, embracing any kind of preface, like the Latin praefatio. In a book, the prologue is a part of the front matter which is in the voice of one of the book's characters rather than in that of the author.

    * Progymnasmata

    Progymnasmata (Greek "fore-exercises", Latin praeexercitamina) are rhetorical exercises gradually leading the student to familiarity with the elements of rhetoric, in preparation for their own practice speeches (gymnasmata, "exercises") and ultimately their own orations.

    Both Hermogenes of Tarsus and Aelius Festus Aphthonius wrote treatises containing progymnasmata (in the second and third century CE, respectively).

    The traditional course of rhetoric gave the progymnasmata in this order:

  • Fable
  • Narrative
  • Chreia
  • Proverb
  • Refutation
  • Confirmation
  • Commonplace
  • Encomium
  • Vituperation
  • Comparison
  • Impersonation
  • Description
  • Thesis
  • Defend or attack a law
  • Once these exercises were mastered, the student would begin preparation of a gymnasmatum, a full oration on a topic given a specific context.

    Progymnasmata is now taught in today's Classical Christian Academies and teaches the student how to write these works so they may go on to Gymnasmatum.

    * Prose

    Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure (as in traditional poetry). The English word "prose" is derived from the Latin prōsa, which literally translates as "straight-forward." While there are critical debates on the construction of prose, its simplicity and loosely defined structure has led to its adoption for the majority of spoken dialogue, factual discourse as well as topical and fictional writing. It is commonly used, for example, in literature, newspapers, magazines, encyclopedias, broadcasting, film, history, philosophy, law and many other forms of communication.

    * Prosimetrum

    A prosimetrum (Latin) is a literary piece that is made up of alternating passages of prose and poetry.

    * Prosody (poetry) - Meter (poetry)

    In poetry, metre (British English) or meter (American English) is the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse. Many traditional verse forms prescribe a specific verse meter, or a certain set of meters alternating in a particular order. The study of metres and forms of versification is known as prosody. (Within linguistics, "prosody" is used in a more general sense that includes not only poetical meter but also the rhythmic aspects of prose, whether formal or informal, which vary from language to language, and sometimes between poetic traditions.)

    * Protagonist

    A protagonist (from the Greek πρωταγωνιστής protagonistes, "one who plays the first part, chief actor") is the main character (the central or primary personal figure) of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to share the most empathy. In the theatre of Ancient Greece, three actors played all of the main dramatic roles in a tragedy; the leading role was played by the protagonist, while the other roles were played by deuteragonist and the tritagonist.

    The terms protagonist, main character and hero are variously defined and, depending on the source, may denote different concepts. In fiction, the story of the protagonist may be told from the perspective of a different character (who may also, but not necessarily, be the narrator). An example would be a narrator who relates the fate of several protagonists, perhaps as prominent figures recalled in a biographical perspective. Often, the protagonist in a narrative is also the same person as the focal character, though the two terms are distinct. Excitement and intrigue alone is what the audience feels toward a focal character, while a sense of empathy about the character's objectives and emotions is what the audience feels toward the protagonist. Although the protagonist is often referred to as the "good guy", it is entirely possible for a story's protagonist to be the clear villain, or antihero, of the piece.

    The principal opponent of the protagonist is a character known as the antagonist, who represents or creates obstacles that the protagonist must overcome. As with protagonists, there may be more than one antagonist in a story. The antagonist may be the story's hero, where the protagonist is a villain - for example, the antagonist could be a police officer.

    Sometimes, a work will offer a particular character as the protagonist, only to dispose of that character unexpectedly, as a dramatic device. Such a character is called a false protagonist. Marion in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) is a famous example.

    When the work contain subplots, these may have different protagonists from the main plot. In some novels, the protagonists may be impossible to identify, because multiple plots in the novel do not permit clear identification of one as the main plot, such as in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle, depicting a variety of characters imprisoned and living in a gulag camp, or in Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, depicting 15 major characters involved in or affected by a war.

    In psychodrama, the "protagonist" is the person (group member, patient or client) who decides to enact some significant aspect of his life, experiences or relationships on stage with the help of the psychodrama director and other group members, taking supplementary roles as auxiliary egos.

    Sometimes, antagonists and protagonists may overlap, depending on what their ultimate objectives are considered to be.

    * Proverb

    A proverb (from Latin: proverbium) is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim. If a proverb is distinguished by particularly good phrasing, it may be known as an aphorism.

    Proverbs are often borrowed from similar languages and cultures, and sometimes come down to the present through more than one language. Both the Bible (Book of Proverbs) and medieval Latin have played a considerable role in distributing proverbs across Europe, although almost every culture has examples of its own.

    * Pruning poem

    A pruning poem is a poem that uses rhymes that are prunings of each other.

    Each rhyme word is one letter shorter than the rhyme word before. Otherwise, they are the same word. While it is possible to write a pruning poem in couplets or longer, it is most effective when the reader sees the pruning on the page. Thus, George Herbert, who conducted many formal experiments in verse, writes Paradise as a pruning poem.

    What open force, or hidden charm
    Can blast my fruit, or bring me harm
    While the inclosure is thine arms?

    Pruning could be accomplished by cutting terminal as well as initial letters, but initial position pruning is the more common and noticeable.

    * Psychoanalytic literary criticism

    Psychoanalytic literary criticism refers to literary criticism which, in method, concept, theory, or form, is influenced by the tradition of psychoanalysis begun by Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalytic reading has been practiced since the early development of psychoanalysis itself, and has developed into a rich and heterogeneous interpretive tradition.

    It is a literary approach where critics see the text as if it were a kind of dream. This means that the text represses its real (or latent) content behind obvious (manifest) content. The process of changing from latent to manifest content is known as the dream work, and involves operations of concentration and displacement. The critic analyzes the language and symbolism of a text to reverse the process of the dream work and arrive at the underlying latent thoughts.

    Freud wrote several important essays on literature, which he used to explore the psyche of authors and characters, to explain narrative mysteries, and to develop new concepts in psychoanalysis (for instance, Delusion and Dream in Jensen's Gradiva and his influential readings of the Oedipus myth and Shakespeare's Hamlet in The Interpretation of Dreams). His followers and later readers, such as Carl Jung and Jacques Lacan, were avid readers of literature as well, and used literary examples as illustrations of important concepts in their work (for instance, Lacan argued with Jacques Derrida over the interpretation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Purloined Letter").

    Jung and another of Freud's disciples, Karen Horney, broke with Freud, and their work, especially Jung's, led to other rich branches of psychoanalytic criticism: Horney's to feminist approaches including womb envy, and Jung's to the study of archetypes and the collective unconscious. Jung's work in particular was influential as, combined with the work of anthropologists such as Claude Lévi-Strauss and Joseph Campbell, it led to the entire fields of mythocriticism and archetype analysis.

    The object of psychoanalytic literary criticism, at its very simplest, can be the psychoanalysis of the author or of a particularly interesting character. In this directly therapeutic form, it is very similar to psychoanalysis itself, closely following the analytic interpretive process discussed in Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams. But many more complex variations are possible. The concepts of psychoanalysis can be deployed with reference to the narrative or poetic structure itself, without requiring access to the authorial psyche (an interpretation motivated by Lacan's remark that "the unconscious is structured like a language"). Or the founding texts of psychoanalysis may themselves be treated as literature, and re-read for the light cast by their formal qualities on their theoretical content (Freud's texts frequently resemble detective stories, or the archaeological narratives of which he was so fond).

    Like all forms of literary criticism, psychoanalytic criticism can yield useful clues to the sometime baffling symbols, actions, and settings in a literary work; however, like all forms of literary criticism, it has its limits. For one thing, some critics rely on psychocriticism as a "one size fits all" approach, when in fact no one approach can adequately illuminate a complex work of art. As Guerin, et al. put it in A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature[1],

    The danger is that the serious student may become theory-ridden, forgetting that Freud's is not the only approach to literary criticism. To see a great work of fiction or a great poem primarily as a psychological case study is often to miss its wider significance and perhaps even the essential aesthetic experience it should provide.

    * Psychoanalytic theory

    Psychoanalytic theory refers to the definition and dynamics of personality development which underlie and guide psychoanalytic and psychodynamic psychotherapy. First laid out by Sigmund Freud, psychoanalytic theory has undergone many refinements since his work (see psychoanalysis). Psychoanalytic theory came to full prominence as a critical force in the last third of the twentieth century as part of 'the flow of critical discourse after the 1960s', and in association above all with the name of Jacques Lacan.

    * Pun

    The pun, or paronomasia, is a form of word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use and abuse of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or metaphorical language. A pun differs from a malapropism in that, in a malapropism one uses an incorrect expression that alludes to another (usually correct) expression, but in a pun one uses a correct expression that alludes to another (sometimes correct but more often absurdly humorous) expression. Henri Bergson defined a pun as a sentence or utterance in which "two different sets of ideas are expressed, and we are confronted with only one series of words". Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, given that their usage and meaning are entirely local to a particular language and its culture.

    Puns are used to create humor and sometimes require a large vocabulary to understand. Puns have long been used by comedy writers, such as William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and George Carlin.

    * Purple prose

    Purple prose is a term of literary criticism used to describe passages, or sometimes entire literary works, written in prose so overly extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself. Purple prose is sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context. It also refers to writing that employs certain rhetorical effects such as exaggerated sentiment or pathos in an attempt to manipulate a reader's response.

    When it is limited to certain passages, they may be termed purple patches or purple passages; these are often noted as standing out from the rest of the work.

    The term purple patch is also used in a more general, and more unequivocally positive, sense to refer to a period of outstanding achievement. This usage is particularly common in sporting contexts in some countries; for example, a footballer who had scored in six successive games might be said to be "enjoying a purple patch".

    * Pyrrhic

    A pyrrhic is a metrical foot used in formal poetry. It consists of two unaccented, short syllables. It is also known as a dibrach.

    Tennyson used pyrrhics and spondees quite frequently. Here are some examples:

    Be near me when my light is low,
    When the blood creeps and the nerves prick
    And tingle; and the heart is sick,
    And all the wheels of Being slow.
    —from In Memoriam.

    Examples above include "When the" and "and the" in the second line and "-le; and" in the third.

    Pyrrhics alone are not used to construct an entire poem due to the monotonous effect.

    A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W






    See all literary glossaries:





    Published - February 2011






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