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Home Notes for Introduction to Literature
Notes for Introduction to Literature
~~ A Vocabulary for Fiction and Beyond ~~
Use your Bedford's Online Glossary to help you define the following terms.
Major / Minor
Point of View
When we engage in interpretation--figuring out what different elements in a story "mean"--we're responding to a work's "ambiguity." Defined simply, this means the work is open to several simultaneous interpretations. Language, especially when manipulated artistically, can communicate more than one meaning--it invites interpretation. Readers can enjoy interpreting literature, and stories, in ways the find individually satisfying.
Book of Fiction (Robert
Di Yanni and Kraft Rompf, Eds. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1995) defines theme as
"an idea or point formulated as a generalization. The theme of a fable
is its moral; the theme of a parable is its teaching; the theme of a short story
is its implied view of life and conduct. Unlike the fable and parable, however,
most fiction is not designed primarily to teach or preach. Its theme, thus is
more obliquely presented. In fact, theme in fiction is barely presented at all;
it is abstracted from the details of character and action that compose the story."
Language can also communicate on more than one level of meaning. Any person, object, image, word, or situation represented in literature may be capable of evoking a range of additional meaning, beyond its original, literal one. Symbols in literature evoke complex ideas without explicitly (tiresomely?) explaining them.
irony is the perception of a clash between appearance and reality, between what
"seems" and what "is." When something strikes you as ironic,
it's usually because the truth turns out to be quite different from what you
might have expected.
Paradox involves two statements or conditions which seem incongruous and nonsensical on the surface--however, when you study beneath the surface, they turn out to make perfect sense.
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