A Glossary of Litrary Terms
All the Terms that are used for Literature.
Special | 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 | ALL
According to Absolutist (or Judicial) Criticism there is only one proper critical procedure and one set of principles that should be applied to the critical task of evaluating literature. What these procedures and principles are is dependent on the critic, but the absolutist critic prescribes these rules for the audience as the way to judge literary works
Abstract and concrete
Two kinds of language. Abstract refers to ideas, conditions, and qualities we cannot directly perceive:Â truth, love, courage, evil, poverty, progressive. Concrete words indicate things we can know with our senses: tree, chair, bird, pen, motorcycle, perfume, thunderclap. Concrete words lend vigor and clarity to writing, for they help a reader to picture things. See IMAGE.
Writers of expository and argumentative essays tend to shift back and forth from one kind of language to the other. They often begin a pragraph with a general statement full of abstract words ("There is hope for the future of motoring"). Then they usually go on to give examples and present evidence in sentences full of concrete words (Inventor Jones claims his car will go from Fresno to Los Angeles on a gallon of peanut oil"). Inexperienced writers often use too many abstract words and not enough concrete ones.
Poetry that uses words for their sound qualities rather than for their meaning. Like abstract painting, which uses colors and shapes to convey meaning but represents no specific objects, abstract poetry does not attempt to convey meaning in the traditional sense:
The Pterodactyl made its nest
And laid a steel egg in her breast --
Under the Judas colored sun.
Dame Edith Sitwell
The Absurd:Literature or drama that has as its basic premise the meaninglessness of life in the 20th century, where man is separated from his religious and philosophical roots and therefore lives in isolation in an alien world. Works that depict the absurd use nightmarish fantasy, inconsistencies, and even banal repetitions to suggest the absurdity of modern life
A major division in a play. Often, individual acts are divided into smaller units ("scenes") that all take place in a specific location. Originally, Greek plays were not divided into acts, but rather took place as a single whole interrupted occasionally by the chorus' singing. In Roman times, a five-act structure first appeared based upon Horace's recommendations. This five-act structure became a convention of drama, and especially tragedy during the Renaissance. (Shakespeare's plays have natural divisions that can be taken as the breaks between acts as well; later editors inserted clear "act" and "scene" markings in these locations.) From about 1650 CE onward, most plays followed the five-act model. In the 1800s, Ibsen and Chekhov favored a four-act play, and in the 1900s, most playwrights preferred a three-act model, though two-act plays are not uncommon.
A term devised by Wolfgang Iser to distinguish between two kinds of readers: the implied and the actual reader. The actual reader is the person who physically picks up the text and reads it. According to Iser, the actual reader comes to the text shaped by cultural and personal norms and prejudices.
Refers to the "space" that must necessarily exist between the work of art and the reader or viewer. Such a distance is necessary so that there is no confusion between "art" and "life." A theatergoer might well become enraged at a sadistic character on stage, but he remains knowledgeable enough not to storm down the aisle and threaten the blackguard. Too great an identification with a work of art leads to subjective feelings that will distort the view of the artistic creation, but a lack of participation, a "removal" from what is being presented, will also diminish the experience of the work.
Originally, that which pertains to the beautiful, as conceived variously by artists and, especially, philosophers with reference to noble aspects of experience beyond superficial appearance or mere prettiness. The theme preoccupied philosophers in ancient Greece, but the term itself first appeared in the eighteenth-century writings of Alexander Baumgarten. Since the adoption of the term of the term "esthetician" to describe purveyors of cosmetics, "aesthetics" seems to have little relevance, unless one thinks of it more generically as "pertaining to the philosophy of art" -- i.e., its function, nature, ontology, purpose, and so on. Even these have has largely been supplanted by postmodernism's questions of meaning and linguistically based investigations. The term is still sometimes used to indicate a certain imprecise distinction between art and life, or as a rough synonym for "artistic."
Once of great value to all types of expression theory and to Aristotelian catharsis, the notion that a work's value resides in the emotional affect it has on an audience has lost its lustre both for formalism and for postmodernism in general, though for very different reasons. Hence it is called a fallacy. The question should be raised when discussing Romanticism and much early modern art and theory, especially that of Wassily Kandinsky and Kasimir Malevich, among others.