Glossary of Literary Terms – F-S
FABLE: A short tale whose purpose is to impart a message or
lesson, usually featuring animals as characters. ‘‘The Tortoise and the Hare’’ is a well-known example of a fable.
FARCE: A dramatic work characterized by characters being put into comedic situations that are unlikely or improbable, as in Georges Feydeau’s A Flea in Her Ear (1907).
FLASH FICTION: Short fiction, usually under one thousand words, that despite its length contains all the traditional elements of story such as a protagonist and conflict that is somehow resolved.
FRAME NARRATIVE: A literary device in which the main story being told to the reader is presented as a story being told by one of the characters within the work, such as in Heart of Darkness (1899) by Joseph Conrad. Frame narratives often contain several stories and multiple storytellers, as in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (written in the fourteenth century).
FUTURISM: A literary movement of the early twentieth century, primarily in poetry, meant to express the dynamic nature of the modern world. Futurist poetry was characterized by
onomatopoeia, unusual word order, and unexpected juxtaposition of objects and images. Vladimir Mayakovsky was one of the best-known Russian Futurists.
GENERATION OF ’27: A loose collective of Spanish poets and artists active during the 1920s who became known, despite their differing styles, for their avant-garde approach. The Generation of ’27 included members such as Federico Garc´ıa Lorca, Luis Cernuda, and Jorge Guille´n.
GENERATION OF ’98: A group of Spanish writers active during and after the Spanish-American War, known for their interest in forging a Spanish cultural identity. Members of the Generation of ’98 included Antonio Machado and Ramo´n del Valle Incla´n.
GOTHIC FICTION: A literary sub-genre that emerged in the last half of the eighteenth century and was characterized by eerie atmosphere, melodrama, mystery, and romance. Ann Radcliffe was an important figure in the development of Gothic fiction.
GRAND GUIGNOL: A French theater founded in 1894 and known for its plays depicting horrifying and graphically violent events, most of which were written by Andre´ de Lorde; the term ‘‘Grand Guignol’’ is still used to describe tales of grisly horror.
GROUP 47: A German literary group established to cultivate and advance German
literature in the wake of World War II. Though membership was often private and ever-changing, notable members included Gu¨nter Grass and Heinrich Bo¨ll.
HAIKU: A Japanese poetic form whose English equivalent consists of only three lines, the first and third containing five syllables and the second containing seven. Matsuo Bashoˆ was an early master of this poetic form.
HEROIC COUPLET: An English poetic form which consists of a rhyming pair of ten-syllable lines.
Geoffrey Chaucer and Alexander Pope were both known for their use of the heroic couplet.
HUMANISM: A philosophical notion that emphasizes the inherent goodness and rationality of all people, as well as the encouragement of artistic creation among people of all levels of society. Franc¸ois Rabelais and Thomas Mann were both notable supporters of humanism.
IMAGISM: A poetic movement of the early twentieth century that emphasized direct expression through concise imagery and non-standard structure. Ezra Pound was instrumental in the development of the Imagist movement.
IMPRESSIONISM: An artistic movement that emerged during the latter half of the nineteenth century, and focused on artistic impression over realistic representation. In literature, impressionism was characterized by a focus on the depiction of the interior, mental landscapes of characters, and was associated with other literary movements such as Symbolism.
IRONY: A literary device in which a character’s perception of reality differs from actual reality, or in which a character’s words do not express their true feelings. Sarcasm is a well-known form of irony. Dramatic irony occurs when an audience is given information that is not known by one or more characters in the play.
LIBRETTO: A text for the vocal portion of an opera or other musical work, often written in verse form. Famous composers frequently employed well-known poets to write libretti for their works, and writers such as William Congreve, Victor Hugo, and Gertrude Stein have worked as librettists.
LOST GENERATION: A term used to describe a loosely defined group of American writers who spent time in Europe—especially Paris—following World War I. These writers, including Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Sherwood Anderson, were notable for themes of disillusionment in their works.
MAGIC REALISM: A literary style developed primarily in South America in which fantastic or supernatural elements are woven into otherwise realistic tales. Writers commonly associated with magic realism include Jorge Luis Borges, Alejo Carpentier, Gabriel Garc´ıa Ma´rquez, and Carlos Fuentes.
MASQUE: A theatrical pageant performed for royalty and nobility during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Masques were generally written and performed for special occasions. Ben Jonson and Sir Philip Sidney were well-known writers of masques.
MELODRAMA: A literary work which contains heightened or exaggerated emotions from the characters. The term originally applied to theatrical productions in which music (or melody) was used to accentuate the drama occurring on the stage.
MODERNISM: An artistic movement during the early twentieth century influenced by the rapid industrialization, scientific advancements, and devastating warfare of the time. Modernist writers were noted for their radical departure from traditional literary forms, with notable Modernist works including T. S. Eliot’s poem ‘‘The Waste Land’’ (1922) and James Joyce’s novel Ulysses (1922).
NATURALISM: A literary movement from the late nineteenth century that focused on realistic portrayals of people and situations, and specifically dealt with the effects of heredity and environment on a characters’s personality and development. E´ mile Zola is widely regarded as a Naturalist.
NEOCLASSICISM: A literary movement during the first half of the twentieth century that marked a movement away from romanticism and sought inspiration in ancient Greek and Roman art.
NIHILISM: A philosophical movement that first appeared in the nineteenth century and is characterized by the belief that life has no objective purpose, moral code, or value. Writers associated with nihilism include Ivan Turgenev, whose novel Fathers and Sons (1862) described the Russian Nihilist movement and popularized the concept.
NOUVEAU ROMAN: Also known as an ‘‘anti-novel’’ (the term itself is French for ‘‘new novel’’), a literary work in which traditional storytelling elements are absent or altered, so that the reader cannot determine with certainty the correct order or reality of events depicted. Alain Robbe-Grillet was instrumental in defining the nouveau roman.
PARABLE: A short tale meant to impart a message or lesson to the reader. Parables are similar to fables, but do not include supernatural or fantastic elements such as talking animals.
PARODY: A literary work designed to mock or criticize another, usually well-known literary work or genre. An early example is Shamela (1741), Henry Fielding’s parody of the successful Samuel Richardson novel Pamela (1740).
PASTORAL: Literature that depicts rural life, nature, and the people of the region in a highly idealized way. Eclogues (c. 40 B. C.E.) by the ancient Roman
poet Virgil are among the oldest examples of pastoral poetry.
PICARESQUE: A type of novel first developed in Spain that focuses on the adventures of a rogue, or clever anti-hero. Among many others, George Mac-Donald Fraser’s Flashman novels exhibit the key traits of the picaresque.
POSTMODERNISM: A post-World War II literary movement characterized by nonlinearity, or a non-standard narrative timeline, as well as metafiction, in which the
author shows awareness of the story as a work of fiction and may even appear as a character within it.
PSEUDONYM: An alternate name used by a writer, often to hide the writer’s identity. For example, Charles Dodgson used the pen name Lewis Carroll when writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871).
PSYCHOLOGICAL NOVEL: A type of novel in which a great deal of attention is paid to the thoughts and feelings of the characters, as opposed to external action. Stendahl’s 1830 novel The Red and the Black is often cited as an early example of the psychological novel.
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Manzini, Gianna (1896–1974) Gianna Manzini is a novelist who produced more than two dozen books—novels, short stories, and essays—in the six decades of her artistic life. Her work is characterized by a blend of the stylistic refinement typical of the prosa d’arte (artistic prose) as practised in the twenties and thirties, and the author’s experimentation with the novel Glossary of Literary Terms – A-E The glossary contains terms found in various entries throughout the Gale Contextual Encyclopedia of World Literature. This glossary includes: terms for various literary components or techniques relevant to the work of the authors; terms for important artistic movements or groups discussed in relation to the authors; and terms for social, political, or philosophical ideas that Mother-Daughter Relationship The mother-daughter relationship is one that is repeatedly explored in Italian women’s fiction, particularly in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is a theme that is often to be found alongside that of investigation/recreation of the self. Recent feminist criticism has indicated the significance of this theme for women writers in a global context.
Women writers Alegr??a is a feminist who also writes about historic economic injustices in Latin America As a child, Alegr´ıa was inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke, poets of the Spanish Golden Age such as Santa Teresa d’Avila and San Juan de la Cruz, and Latin American writers including Ro´mulo Gallegos and Gabriela Mistral. During her lifetime, Alegr´ıa edited and collaborated with a number of significant Latin American writers and poets, among Marchesa Colombi (1840–1920) Novelist, journalist, polemist, and writer for children, Maria Antonietta Torriani-Torelli is best-known for the strikingly modern and ironic Un matrimonio in provincia (1885). A retrospective first-person account of a young girl’s awakening to the realities of the petit bourgeois marriage market, it was singled out by Natalia Ginzburg for repub-lication by Einaudi in 1973. Torriani’s