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  1. Theater of the Absurd
    A term invented by Martin Esslin for the kind of drama that presents a view of the absurdity of the human condition by the abandoning of usual or rational devices and by the use of nonrealistic form. It expounds an existential ideology and views its task as essentially metaphysical. Conceived in perplexity and spiritual anguish, the theater of the absurd portrays not a eries of connected inceidents telling a story but a pattern of images presenting people as bewildreded beings in an incomprehensivle universe. The first true example of the theater of the absurd was Eugene Ionesco's The Bald Soprano (1950). The most widely acclaimed play of the school is Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot (1953). Other playwrights in the school, which flourished in Europe and America in the 1950's and 1960s, inculde Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov, Edward Albee, Arthur Kopoit, and Harold Pinter.
  2. Academic
    A a neutral term, academic refers to schools and academies in general. As a negative term, however, it means "aridly theroretical" in ideas or "pedantic,conventional, and formalistic" in style.
  3. Academic Drama
    Plays written and performed in schools and colleges in the Elizabethan Age.
  4. Academies
    Associations devoted to the advancement of special fields of interest. The term is derived from "the olive grove of Academe" where Plato taught at Athens. One general purpose of literary academies had been to quote the charter of l'Academie francasie (1629), to"lavor with all care and diligence to give certain rules to our language and to render it pure,eloquent, and capable of treating the arts and scienecs." In addition to the French Academy and the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowedge, the following are important:The Royal Academy of Arts founded in 1768 (England); the Real Academia Espanola founded in 1712 (Spain); and the American Academy of Arts and Letters founded in 1904. More like the original academy of Plato ws the famous "platonic Academy" led by Marsilio Ficino at Forence in the late fifteenth century, which didseminated the doctrines of Neoplatonism.
  5. Acatalectic
    Metrically complete; applied to lines that carry out the basic metrical and rhythmic pattern of a poem.
  6. Accent
    In metrics, the emphasis given a syllable in articulation. Perhaps no aspect of prosody ahs been the subject of greater disagreement then that dealing with accent; it is considered to be a matter of force, timbre, duration, loudness, pitch, and various combinations of these. Customarily, however, it is used to describe some aspect of emphasis, as opposed to duration or quantity. A distincion is sometimes made betweeen accent as the normal emphasis and stess as the empasis required by the meter. The governing force of metrical perscription on how one reads is amatter of critical debate, involving the issue of rhythm. In versification, accent usually implies contrast' that is, a pattterend succession of opposites, in this case, accented and unaccented syllables. In traditional terminology ictus is the naem applied to the stress itself, arsis the name applited to the stressed syllabe, and thesis the aname appled ot the unstressed sybllable. The Greek usage, however, predating this Latin usage, appplied thesis to the stressed and arsis to the umstressd syllables. There are three basic types of accent in Enlgish: word accent or the normal stress on syllables; rhetorical accent, in which the placement of stress is determined by the meaing of the sentence; and rhytmic pattern of the line. If the metrical accent does violence to the word accent, the resulting alteration in pronunciation is called wrenched accent, a phenomenon common in the folk ballad. In lingustices, accent refers to the pronuncaistion of words adn pharases according regions and/ or soical pattterns.
  7. Accentual-Syllabic Verse
    Verse the depends for its rhythm both on the number of syllables to the line and on the pattern of accented and unacccented syllables. The basic meters in English poetry are accentual-syllabic.
  8. Accisums
    A form of irony, a pretended refusal that is insincere or hyporcitical. Caesar's refusal of the crown, in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and Richard's disavowal of his kingly qualities in Shakespeare's Ricahrd III are examples.
  9. Acephalous
  10. Acmeism
    A movement in Russian poetry, begun around 1912 by members of the Poet's Guild to promote percise treatment of realistic subjects. The movement's emphasis on exactness of word and clarity of image invites comparison with its Anglo-American contemporary, Imagism. The founders of Acmeism were Nikolai Gumilev and Sergei Gorodestski. The organized group lasted only a few yeaers, but the influence of its greatest adherents-such as Anna Akhamtova (who was married to Gumilev) and Osip Mandelstam-continues right through the present day.
  11. Acronym
    A word formed by combining the initial letters or syllables of a series of words to form a name.
  12. Acrostic
    A composition, usually verse, arranged in such a way that it spells words, phrases, or sentences when certain letters are selected according to an orderly sequence. It was used by early Greek and Latin writers as well as by the monks of the Middle Ages. Through creditable verse has appeared in this form, acrostics are likey to be tricks of versifying. An acrostic in which the initial letters form the word is called a true acrostic; one in which the final letters form the word is called a telestich. An acrostic in which the middle letters form the word is called a mesositch; one in which the first letter of the first line, th second letter of the second line, the third lettter of the third line, etc., form the word is called a cross acrostic, of which Poe's "A Valentine" is an example. an acrostic in which the intiial letters form the alphabet is called abecedarius.
  13. Act
    The major parts of the Geek plays were distingushied by the apperance of the chorus, and they generally fell, as Aristotle imples, into five parts. The Latin tradgies of Seneca were divided into five acts; and, when English dramatists in the elizabethan age began using act divisoin, they followed their Roman models, as did other modern European dramatists. In varying degrees the five-act structure corresponded to the five main divisions of dramatic action: emposition, complication, climax, flling action, and catastrophe. Freytag wrote of the "act of introduction," the "act of the climax," the "act of the descent," and the "act of the catastrophe"; but such a  correspondence, epecially in elizabethan plays, is by no means always apparent. The five-act structure was followed until the nineteenth century when, under the influence of Ibsen, the fouth and fifth acts were combined. In the twentieth century, the standard form for serious drama has been three acts, for musical comedy and comic opera usually two; but great variation is used, with serious plays frequently divided into episodes or scenes, without act-division. Late in the nineteenth century a shorter form, the one-act play, developed.
  14. Action
    In any work of fiction, the series of events that consitute the plot, what the characters say, do, think, or in some cases fail to do. Orderly action differs from aimless or episodic activity; an action customarily has a beginning, middle, and end. In the crudest sense, the action of a play, a short story, a narrative poem, or novel is the answer to the question "what happened?"
  15. Actor
    A person who performs in a drama in any form; the term has replaced the earlier player. Loosely, any participant in an action, as in "actors in the Watergate drama included John Mitchell and John Dean."
  16. Adage
    A proverb or wise saying made familiar by long use. Ex. "No bees, no honey."
  17. Adaptation
    The rewriting of a work form its original form to fit it for another medium; also the new form of such a rewritten work. A novel, may be "adapted" for the stage, motion pictures, or television; a play may be rewritten as a novel. The term implies an attempt to retain the characters, actions, and as much as possible of the language and tone of the original; adaptation thus difffers significantly from the reworking of a source.
  18. Addena
    Matter to be added to a piece of writing. Addena may be appended to a text in late stages of prouction or, after production, on a separte slip attached to the original document. Addenda are usually items inadvertently omitted or received too late for inclusion.
  19. Adonic Verse
    In Greek and Latin prosody, the meter that consists of a dactyl and a spondee, probably so called after Adonia, the festival of Adonis.
  20. Adventure Story (or Film)
    A story in which action- always exterior, usually physical, and frequently violent- is the predominant material, stressed above characterization, motivation, or theme. Suspense is engendred by the question "What will happen next?" rather than "Why?" or "To whom?" In a border sense, as Henry James insisted in "The art of Fiction," everything in fiction can be thought of as an adventure; he said, "it is an adventure- an immense one- for me to write this little article." In film citicims, a recongnizable subgenre is the outdoor- adventure film, or which the western remains the most popular form.
  21. Adversarius
    The character in a formal satire who is addressed by the persona and who functions to elicit and to shape that speaker's remarks. Arbuthnot is adversarius to Pope in "The Epistle to Dr.Arbuthnot." Such a character serves to create a situation within which he or she may speak or play a role similar to that of a straight man.
  22. Aesthetic Distance
    A term used to describe the effect produced when an emotion or an experience, whether autobiographical or not, is so objectified that it can be understood as being independent of the immediate experience of its maker. This objectification involves alll aspects of representatin that displace immediacy and verisimilitude. The term is also used to describe the reader's or audience's awareness that art and reality are separate. In this sense it is sometimes called "psychic distance." It is related ot T. S. Eliot's objective correlative.
  23. Aestheticism
    A nineteenth-century literary movement that rested on the credo of "art for art's sake." Its roots reached back to Theophile Gautier's preface to Mademoiselle de Mapin (1835), which claimed that art has no utility, Poe's theory of "the poem per se" and his rejection of the "hersey of the didactic," Baudelaire's Les fleurs du Mal, and Mallarme. Its origins had a close kinship to the reverence for beauty of the Pre-Raphaelites. Its dominant figures were Oscar Wilde, wh insisted on the separation of art and morality, and Wilde's master, Walter Prater. THe English Parnassians- Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson, Andrew Lang, and Edmund Gosse- were a part of the movement but were primarily concerned with questions of form rather than sharp separartions of art from moral issues.
  24. Aesthetics
    The study or philosophy of the beautiful in nature, art and literature. It has both a philosophical dimension - What is art? What is beauty? What is the relationship of the beautiful to other values?- and psychological dimension- What is the source of aesthetic enjoyment? How is beauty perceived and recognized? From what impulse do art and beauty arise? The asethetic study of literature concentrates on the sense of the beautiful rather than on moral, social, or practical considerations. When pursued rigorously, it leads to "art for art's sake" and Aestheticism. The Kantian Tradition takes the aesthetic as the names of the attempt to bridge the gap between material and spirtiual, a world of forces and magnitures. Aesthetic objects, with their union or fusion of sensuous form and spiritual content, would serve as guradantors of the possiblity of articulation fo the marterial with the spirtal. This sense of the aesthetic is not only Kant's: It is the one at issue in recent debates, such those involving Terry Eagletion (The Ideology of the Aesthetic) and Pual de Man (The Aesthetic Ideology).
  25. Aet., Aetat.
    Abbreviations for the Lation aetatis suae, "of his or her age." The term is used to designate the year of a person's life at which an event occurred. A picture of Henry David Thoreau bearing the legend "aet. 35" would be one made during Thoreau's thirty-fifth year, that is, when he was thirty-four years old.
  26. Affective Fallacy
    The judging of a work of art in terms of its results, especially its emotional effect. The term ws intoduced by W. K. Wimsatt, Jr., and M. C. Beardsley to describe the "confusion between the poem and its result (what it is and what it does)." It complements the inentional fallacy. Notable versions of the affective fallacy are Aristotle's catharsis and Longinus' "transport".
  27. Affix
    A verbal element added before (prefix) or after (suffix) a base to change the meaning.
  28. African American Literature
    talk about it to someone
  29. Age of Johnson in English Literature
    Know this too
  30. Age of Reason
    A term offten applied to the Neoclassic Period in English Literature and sometimes to the Revolutionary and Early National Period in American Literature, because these period emphasized self-knowledge, self-control, rationalism, disciopline, and the rule of law, order, and decorum in public and private life and in art.
  31. Age of Sensibility
    A name frequently applied by contemporary critics and literary historians, such as W. J. Bate, Harold Bloom, and Nothrop Frye, to the last half of the eighteenth century in England, the time called by older historians and critics the Age of Johnson. The use of the term Age of Sensibiolity results form seeing the inerval between 1750 and 1798 as a seedfield for emerging romantic qualities in literature, such as primitivism, sensibility, and the originality of the individual talent. The older term, Age of Johnson, tend to emphazise the strong continuing neoclassic qualities in the literature of the time.
  32. Agent
    An amateur or professional representative acting as an artist's go-between in dealings with publishers, editors, and other executives, chiefly in legal and fiancial matters but also occasionlly including personal and aristic advice and assistance. The profession of literary agent dates back to the late nineteenth century, when A. P. Watt, sometimes considred the first professional agent, had Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling among his clients. Before the close ot the ninteenth century, Watt was joined by J.B. Pinker and Curtis Brown.
  33. Agitprop
    "Agitational Propaganda," originally in behalf of the Soviet Union and communist ideology (the word is a Russian combination dating from the 1930s); later applied to any propagandistic effort.
  34. Agon
    Literally a contest of any kind. In Greek tradgedy it was prolonged dispute, often a formal debate in which the chorus divided and took sides with the dsiputants. In the Old Comedy in the Greece this debate, called epirrhematic agon. involved an elabotare and stylized series of exchanges between the chorus and the debaters, and addresses to the audience. In disscussions of plot it has come to mean simply"conflict." The characters in a work of fiction are designated in terms of their relationship to this conflict: protagonist,antagonist, deuteragonist, and so on. As its title suggest, Milton's Samson Agonistes belongs in the category of the agon.
  35. Agroikos
    A character added by Northrop Frye to the tradditional three stock characters of Greek Old Comedy. The usual agroikos is a rustic who is easily deceived, a form of the country bumpkin.
  36. Alazon
    The braggart in Greek Comedy. He takes many forms: the quak, the religious fanatic, the swaggering solider, the pedant-anyone pretentious who is held up to ridicule. From Plautus' Miles Gloriosus he enters English literature where he is a stock character in Elizabethan Drama. He has been widely used in other literary forms, particularly the novel.
  37. Alba
    A provencal lament over the parting of lovers at the break of day, the name from the Provencal for "dawn." It has no fixed metrical form, but each stanza usually ends with "alba." The first alba is "Reis glorios" (c.1200) by Giraut de Bornelh. With the next generation of troubadours the alba grew to a distinct literary form. On occasion they were religious, being addressed to the Virgin.
  38. Alcaics
    Verses written according to the manner of the odes of alcaeus, usually a four-stanza poem, each stanza composed of four lines, the first two being hendeca-syllabic, the third being nine syllables, and the fourth decasyllabic. Because the classical pattern is based on quantitative dactyls and trochees, exact English Alcaics are practically impossible.
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Literature words and history
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