Format Type: PDF
Read Online: 574
This is a book of hard words alphabetically arranged and briefly explained. It cannot purport to fulfil the functions of a balanced expository guide to literary criticism or literary concepts, nor does it attempt to catalogue the entire body of literary terms in use. It offers instead to clarify those thousand terms that are most likely to cause the student or general reader some doubt or bafflement in the context of literary criticism and other discussion of literary works. Rather than include for the sake of encyclopaedic completeness all the most common terms found in literary discussion, I have set aside several that I have judged to be sufficiently well understood in common speech (anagram, biography, cliche and many more), or virtually self-explanatory (detective story, psychological criticism), along with a broad category of general concepts such as art, belief, culture, etc., which may appear as literarycritical problems but which are not specifically literary terms. This policy has allowed space for the inclusion of many terms generated by the growth of academic literary theory in recent years, and for adequate attention to the terminology of classical rhetoric, now increasingly revived. Along with these will be found hundreds of terms from literary criticism, literary history, prosody, and drama. The selection is weighted towards literature and criticism in English, but there are many terms taken from other languages, and many more associated primarily with other literatures. Many of the terms that I have omitted from this dictionary are covered by larger or more specialist works; a brief guide to these appears on page 279. In each entry I have attempted to explain succinctly how the term is or has been used, with a brief illustrative example wherever possible, and to clarify any relevant distinctions of sense. Related terms are indicated by cross-reference, using an asterisk (*) before a term explained elsewhere in the dictionary, or the instruction see. I have chosen not to give much space to questions of etymology, and to discuss a term's origin only when this seems genuinely necessary to clarify its current sense. My attention has been devoted more to helping readers to use the terms confidently for themselves. To this end I have displayed the plural forms, adjectival forms, and other derived words relevant to each entry, and have provided pronunciation guides for more than two hundred potentially troublesome terms. The simplified pronunciation system Preface to the Second Edition viii used, closely based on the system devised by Joyce M. Hawkins for the Oxford Paperback Dictionary, offers a basic but sufficient indication of the essential features of stress-placing and vowel quality. One of its advantages is that it requires very little checking against the pronunciation key on page ix. In compiling this dictionary, the principal debt I have incurred is to my predecessors in the vexed business of literary definition and distinction, from Aristotle to the editors of the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. If the following entries make sense, it is very often because those who have gone before have cleared the ground and mapped its more treacherous sites. My thanks are owed also to Joyce Hawkins and Michael Ockenden for their help with pronunciations; to Kirn Scott Walwyn of Oxford University Press for her constant encouragement; to Peter Currie, Michael Hughes, Colin Pickthall, and Hazel Richardson for their advice on particular entries; to my students for giving me so much practice; and especially to Harriet Barry, Pamela Jackson, and John Simons for giving up their time to scrutinize the typescript and for the valuable amendments they suggested. C.B. Acknowledgement I am grateful to David Higham Associates Limited on behalf of Muriel Spark for permission to quote from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie published by Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Preface to the Second Edition For this edition I have added new entries expanding the dictionary's coverage of terms from rhetoric, theatre history, textual criticism, and other fields; and introduced further terms that have arrived or become more prominent in literary usage in the last ten years. I have also updated many of the existing entries along with the appendix on general further reading, and more extensively attached additional recommendations for further reading to several of the longer or more complex entries. For advice on some of this additional material I am indebted to my colleagues Alcuin Blamires, Michael Bruce, Hayley Davis, and Philip McGowan. C.B. Pronunciation Where a term's pronunciation may not be immediately obvious from its spelling, a guide is provided in square brackets following the word or phrase. Words are broken up into small units, usually of one syllable. The syllable that is spoken with most stress in a word of two or more syllables is shown in bold type. The pronunciations given follow the standard speech of southern England. However, since this system is based on analogies rather than on precise phonetic description, readers who use other varieties of spoken English will rarely need to make any conscious adjustment to suit their own forms of pronunciation. The sounds represented are as follows: a a ah air ar aw ay b ch d e e ee eer er ew ewr f g h as in cat as in ago as in calm as in hair as in bar as in law as in say as in bat as in chin as in day as in bed as in taken as in meet as in beer as in her as in few as in pure as in fat as in get as in hat iI I j k 1 m n ng nk o 6 oh oi oo oor or ow Pr as in pin as in pencil as in eye as in jam as in kind as in leg as in man as in not as in sing, finger as in thank as in top as in lemon as in most as in join as in soon as in poor as in for as in cow as in pen as in red s as in sit sh as in shop t as in top th as in thin th as in this u as in cup u as in focus uu as in book v os in voice w as in will y as in yes or when preceded by a consonant = I as in cry, realize yoo as in unit yoor as in Europe yr as in fire z as in zebra zh as in vision The raised n (n) is used to indicate the nasalizing of the preceding vowel sound in some French words, as in baton or in Chopin. In several French words no syllable is marked for stress, the distribution of stress being more even than in English. Pronunciation x A consonant is sometimes doubled, especially to help show that the vowel before it is short, or when without this the combination of letters might suggest a wrong pronunciation through looking misleadingly like a familiar word.