Saturday, August 27, 2016

Illustrations | 10 Literary Terms to Impress (or Annoy) Your Friends


10 Literary Terms to Impress (or Annoy) Your Friends

You might not know it, but you have probably put a prolepsis into play recently. Did you know that a signature isn’t necessarily a scribbled name on a credit card receipt? You know that classic character that Gilda Radner played on “Saturday Night Live” who’d confuse “violence” with “violins”? Do you know what kind of mistake that is? You probably know what a climax is, and maybe even how to pronounce denouement, but do you know what part of a plot makes up the anagnorisis?
If this intrigues you, then our illustrated guide to Ten Literary Terms to Impress (Or Annoy) Your Friends is for you. And you don’t have to use it just to be a show-off. (Let’s be honest, this will only impress a very specific circle of friends.) In working on these illustrations, in seeing things named that I didn’t know had names, I started to think about my own favorite stories and poems differently. Does Humboldt’s Gift have a significant moment of anagnorisis, a moment of discovery? Yes, probably when Citrine discovers what exactly makes up Humboldt’s gift. (Okay, that was an easy one.)
The famous opening lines of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” use the device of enjambment — which is a much more academic way of describing Ginsberg’s speed-fueled run-on lines of poetry. Also, I can now stop faking it when I read or hear the term in media res. I’d always pretended to know what it means, doing that thing where you glide past it while reading, too proud to stop and look it up.
And next time I see a title like “Dead Man Walking, I’ll know that that’s a prolepsis. But I probably won’t announce it.
Literary Terms to Impress or Annoy Friends

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