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Style (fiction)


Figure of speech



Literary technique


Narrative mode


Stylistic device


Suspension of disbelief


Symbolism (arts)


Tone (literature)


Article Sources and Contributors


Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors


Article Licenses


Style (fiction)

Style (fiction)
In fiction, style is the codified gestures,[1] in which the author tells the story. Along with plot, character, theme, and
setting, style is considered one of the fundamental components of fiction.[2]

Components of style
Style in fiction includes the use of various literary techniques.

Fiction-writing modes
Fiction is a form of narrative, one of the four rhetorical modes of discourse. Fiction-writing also has distinct forms of
expression, or modes, each with its own purposes and conventions. Agent and author Evan Marshall identifies five
fiction-writing modes: action, summary, dialogue, feelings/thoughts, and background (Marshall 1998, pp.143165).
Author and writing-instructor Jessica Page Morrell lists six delivery modes for fiction-writing: action, exposition,
description, dialogue, summary, and transition (Morrell 2006, p.127). Author Peter Selgin refers to methods,
including action, dialogue, thoughts, summary, scene, and description (Selgin 2007, p.38). Currently, there is no
consensus within the writing community regarding the number and composition of fiction-writing modes and their

The narrator is the teller of the story, the orator, doing the mouthwork, or its in-print equivalent. A writer is faced
with many choices regarding the narrator of a story: first-person narrative, third-person narrative, unreliable narrator,
stream-of-consciousness writing. A narrator may be either obtrusive or unobtrusive, depending on the author's
intended relationship between himself, the narrator, the point-of-view character, and the reader.

Point of View
Point of view is from whose consciousness the reader hears, sees, and feels the story.

Allegory is a work of fiction in which the symbols, characters, and events come to represent, in somewhat
point-by-point fashion, a different metaphysical, political, or social situation.

Symbolism refers to any object or person which represents something else.

Tone refers to the attitude that a story creates toward its subject matter. Tone may be formal, informal, intimate,
solemn, somber, playful, serious, ironic, condescending, or many other possible attitudes. Tone is sometimes referred
to as the mood that the author establishes within the story.

Style (fiction)

Imagery is used in fiction to refer to descriptive language that evokes sensory experience. Imagery may be in many
forms, such as metaphors and similes.

Punctuation is everything in written language other than the actual letters or numbers, including punctuation marks,
inter-word spaces, and indentation.[3]

Word choice
Diction, in its original, primary meaning, refers to the writer's or the speaker's distinctive vocabulary choices and
style of expression. Literary diction analysis reveals how a passage establishes tone and characterization; for
example, a preponderance of verbs relating physical movement suggests an active character, while a preponderance
of verbs relating states of mind portrays an introspective character.

In linguistics, grammar refers to the logical and structural rules that govern the composition of sentences, phrases,
and words in any given natural language. Grammar also refers to the study of such rules. This field includes
morphology and syntax, often complemented by phonetics, phonology, semantics, and pragmatics.

Imagination, also called the faculty of imagining, is the ability to form mental images, sensations and concepts, in a
moment when they are not perceived through sight, hearing or other senses.Wikipedia:Citation needed

Cohesion is the grammatical and lexical relationship within a text or sentence. Cohesion can be defined as the links
that hold a text together and give it meaning.

Suspension of disbelief
Suspension of disbelief is the reader's temporary acceptance of story elements as believable, regardless of how
implausible they may seem in real life.

In grammar, the voice (also called diathesis) of a verb describes the relationship between the action (or state) that
the verb expresses and the participants identified by its arguments (subject, object, etc.). When the subject is the
agent or actor of the verb, the verb is in the active voice. When the subject is the patient, target or undergoer of the
action, it is said to be in the passive voice.

Style (fiction)

[1] R. Rawdon Wilso (2002) The hydra's tale: imagining disgust (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=BxSMGjkLbyoC& pg=PA28) p.28
[2] Obstfeld, 2002, pp. 1, 65, 115, 171.
[3] Todd, Loreto (2000). The Cassell Guide to Punctuation. Cassell, ISBN 978-0-304-34961-6.

Marshall, Evan (1998). The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books.
pp.143165. ISBN1-58297-062-9.
Obstfeld, Raymond (2002). Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels, Stories and Scripts. Cincinnati, OH:
Writer's Digest Books. ISBN1-58297-117-X.
Morrell, Jessica Page (2006). Between the Lines: Master the Subtle Elements of Fiction Writing. Cincinnati, OH:
Writer's Digest Books. p.127. ISBN978-1-58297-393-7.
Selgin, Peter (2007). By Cunning & Craft: Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for fiction writers. Cincinnati,
OH: Writer's Digest Books. p.38. ISBN978-1-58297-491-0.

Further reading
Bickham, Jack M. (1993). Scene & Structure. Writer's Digest Books. pp.1222, 5058. ISBN0-89879-551-6.
Browne & King (2004). Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print. New York: Harper
Resource. pp.12, 117. ISBN0-06-054569-0.
Card, Orson Scott (1988). Character & Viewpoint. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's Digest Books. ISBN0-89879-307-6.
Edgerton, Les (2003). Finding Your Voice: How to Put Personality in Your Writing. Cincinnati, OH: Writer's
Digest Books. ISBN1-58297-174-9.
Kress, Nancy (August 2003). Writer's Digest. p.38.
Yagoda, Ben (2004). The Sound on the Page: Great Writers Talk About Style and Voice in Writing. New York:
HarperResource. ISBN0-06-093822-6.


Diction (/dk()n/; Latin: dictionem (nom. dictio), "a saying, expression, word"[1]) in its original, primary meaning,
refers to the writer's or the speaker's distinctive vocabulary choices and style of expression in a poem or story.[2][3] A
secondary, common meaning of "diction" means the distinctiveness of speech,[4][5] the art of speaking so that each
word is clearly heard and understood to its fullest complexity and extremity, and concerns pronunciation and tone,
rather than word choice and style. This secondary sense is more precisely and commonly expressed with the term
enunciation, or with its synonym articulation.[6]
Diction has multiple concerns; registerwords being either formal or informal in social contextis foremost.
Literary diction analysis reveals how a passage establishes tone and characterization, e.g. a preponderance of verbs
relating physical movement suggests an active character, while a preponderance of verbs relating states of mind
portrays an introspective character. Diction also has an impact upon word choice and syntax.
Diction comprises eight elements: Phoneme, Syllable, Conjunction, Connective, Noun, Verb, Inflection, and

In Literature
Diction is usually judged with reference to the prevailing standards of proper writing and speech and is seen as the
mark of quality of the writing. It is also understood as the selection of certain words or phrases that become peculiar
to a writer.
Certain writers in the modern day and age use archaic terms such as "thy", "thee", and "wherefore" to imbue a
Shakespearean mood to their work.
Forms of diction include: Archaic Diction (diction that is antique, that is rarely used), High Diction (lofty sounding
language), and Low Diction (everyday language). Each of these forms are to enhance the meaning or artistry of an
author's work.


Diction (http:/ / www. etymonline. com/ index. php?search=Diction& searchmode=none), Online Etymology Dictionary
http:/ / www. merriam-webster. com/ netdict/ diction
Crannell (1997) Glossary, p.406
Littr - Diction.
Georges Le Roy, Trait pratique de la diction franaise, 1911.
Crannell (1997) Part II, Speech, p.84

Further reading
Kenneth C. Crannell (1999). Voice and articulation ( at
Google Books (preview of 1997 edition)


External links
Look up diction in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Examples of diction in poetry (

Style and Diction ( free software by the GNU Project

Figure of speech
"Figures of speech" redirects here. For the hip hop group, see Figures of Speech.
A figure of speech is the use of a word or a phrase, which transcends its literal interpretation. It can be a special
repetition, arrangement or omission of words with literal meaning, or a phrase with a specialized meaning not based
on the literal meaning of the words in it, as in idiom, metaphor, simile, hyperbole, personification, or synecdoche.
Figures of speech often provide emphasis, freshness of expression, or clarity. However, clarity may also suffer from
their use, as any figure of speech introduces an ambiguity between literal and figurative interpretation. A figure of
speech is sometimes called a rhetorical figure or a locution.
Rhetoric originated as the study of the ways in which a source text can be transformed to suit the goals of the person
reusing the material. For this goal, classical rhetoric detected four fundamental operations[1] that can be used to
transform a sentence or a larger portion of a text: expansion, abridgement, switching, transferring and so on.

The four fundamental operations

Main article: Rhetorical operations
The four fundamental operations, or categories of change, governing the formation of all figures of speech are:

addition (adiectio), also called repetition/expansion/superabundance

omission (detractio), also called subtraction/abridgement/lack
transposition (transmutatio), also called transferring
permutation (immutatio), also called switching/interchange/substitution/transmutation

These four operations were detected by classical rhetoricians, and still serve to encompass the various figures of
speech. Originally these were called, in Latin, the four operations of quadripartita ratio. The ancient surviving text
mentioning them, although not recognizing them as the four fundamental principles, is the Rhetorica ad Herennium,
of unknown authorship, where they are called (addition), (omission), (transposition)
and (permutation).[2] Quintillian then mentioned them in Institutio Oratoria.[3] Philo of Alexandria also
listed them as addition (), subtraction (), transposition (), and transmutation

Figure of speech

Figures of speech come in many varieties. The aim is to use the language inventively to accentuate the effect of what
is being said. A few examples follow:
"Around the rugged rocks the ragged rascal ran" is an example of alliteration, where the consonant r is used
Whereas, "Sister Suzy sewing socks for soldiers" is a particular form of alliteration called sibilance, because it
repeats the letter s.
Both are commonly used in poetry.
"She would run up the stairs and then a new set of curtains" is a variety of zeugma called a syllepsis. Run up
refers to ascending and also to manufacturing. The effect is enhanced by the momentary suggestion, through a
pun, that she might be climbing up the curtains. The ellipsis or omission of the second use of the verb makes the
reader think harder about what is being said.
"Military Intelligence is an oxymoron" is the use of direct sarcasm to suggest that the military would have no
intelligence. This might be considered to be a satire and an aphorism.
"An Einstein" is an example of synecdoche, as it uses a particular name to represent a class of people:
"I had butterflies in my stomach" is a metaphor, referring to my nervousness feeling as if there were flying insects
in my stomach.
To say "it was like having some butterflies in my stomach" would be a simile, because it uses the word like
which is missing in the metaphor.
Scholars of classical Western rhetoric have divided figures of speech into two main categories: schemes and tropes.
Schemes (from the Greek schma, form or shape) are figures of speech that change the ordinary or expected pattern
of words. For example, the phrase, "John, my best friend" uses the scheme known as apposition. Tropes (from the
Greek trepein, to turn) change the general meaning of words. An example of a trope is irony, which is the use of
words to convey the opposite of their usual meaning ("For Brutus is an honorable man; / So aire they all, all
honorable men").
During the Renaissance, scholars meticulously enumerated and classified figures of speech. Henry Peacham, for
example, in his The Garden of Eloquence (1577), enumerated 184 different figures of speech. Professor Robert
DiYanni, in his book "Literature - Reading Fiction, Poetry, Drama and the Essay" [5] wrote: "Rhetoricians have
catalogued more than 250 different figures of speech, expressions or ways of using words in a nonliteral sense.".
For simplicity, this article divides the figures between schemes and tropes, but does not further sub-classify them
(e.g., "Figures of Disorder"). Within each category, words are listed alphabetically. Most entries link to a page that
provides greater detail and relevant examples, but a short definition is placed here for convenience. Some of those
listed may be considered rhetorical devices, which are similar in many ways.

Figure of speech

Main article: Scheme (linguistics)

accumulation: Accumulating arguments in a concise forceful manner.

adnomination: Repetition of words with the same root word.
alliteration: Series of words that begin with the same consonant.
adynaton: hyperbole taken to such extreme lengths insinuating a complete impossibility.
anacoluthon: Transposition of clauses to achieve an unnatural order of a sentence.
anadiplosis: Repetition of a word at the end of a clause and then at the beginning of its succeeding clause.
anaphora: Repetition of the same word or group of words in a paragraph.
anastrophe: Changing the object, subject and verb order in a clause.
anticlimax: An abrupt descent (either deliberate or unintended) on the part of a speaker or writer from the dignity
of idea which he appeared to be aiming at.
antanaclasis Repetition of a single word, but with different meanings.
anthimeria: Transformation of a word of a certain word class to another word class.
antimetabole: A sentence consisting of the repetition of words in successive clauses, in reverse order.
antirrhesis: Disproving an opponents argument.
antistrophe: Repetition of the same word or group of words in a paragraph in the end of sentences.
antithesis: Juxtaposition of opposing or contrasting ideas.
aphorismus: Statement that calls into question the definition of a word.
aposiopesis: Breaking off or pausing speech for dramatic or emotional effect.
apposition: Placing of two statements side by side, in which the second defines the first.
assonance: Repetition of vowel sounds.
asteismus: Mocking answer or humorous answer that plays on a word.
asterismos: Beginning a segment of speech with an exclamation of a word.
asyndeton: Omission of conjunctions between related clauses.
cacophony: Words producing a harsh sound.
cataphora: Co-reference of one expression with another expression which follows it, in which the latter defines
the first. (example: If you need one, there's a towel in the top drawer.)
classification: Linking a proper noun and a common noun with an article
chiasmus: Two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger
climax: Arrangement of words in order of increasing importance
commoratio: Repetition of an idea, re-worded
conduplicatio: Repetition of a key word
Conversion (word formation): An unaltered transformation of a word of one word class into another word class
consonance: Repetition of consonant sounds, most commonly within a short passage of verse
dubitatio: Expressing doubt and uncertainty about oneself
dystmesis: A synonym for tmesis
ellipsis: Omission of words
elision: Exclusion of a letter from a word or phrase
enallage: Wording ignoring grammatical rules or conventions
enjambment: Incomplete syntax at the end of lines in poetry
enthymeme: An informal syllogism
epanalepsis: Ending sentences with how they begin. "Book ends"

epanodos: Word repetition.

epistrophe: (also known as antistrophe) Repetition of the same word or group of words at the end of successive
clauses. The counterpart of anaphora

Figure of speech

epizeuxis Repetition of a single word, with no other words in between

euphony: Opposite of cacophony - i.e. pleasant sounding
half rhyme: Partially rhyming words
hendiadys: Use of two nouns to express an idea when it normally would consist of an adjective and a noun
hendiatris: Use of three nouns to express one idea
homeoptoton: ending the last parts of words with the same syllable or letter.
homographs: Words we write identically but which have a differing meaning
homoioteleuton: Multiple words with the same ending
homonyms: Words that are identical with each other in pronunciation and spelling, but different in meaning
homophones: Words that are identical with each other in pronunciation, but different in meaning
homeoteleuton: Words with the same ending
hypallage: A transferred epitaph from a conventional choice of wording.
hyperbaton: Two ordinary assosciated words are detached. The term may also be used more generally for all
different figures of speech which transpose natural word order in sentences.
hyperbole: Exaggeration of a statement
hypozeuxis Every clause having its own independent subject and predicate
hysteron proteron: The inversion of the usual temporal or causal order between two elements

isocolon: Use of parallel structures of the same length in successive clauses

internal rhyme: Using two or more rhyming words in the same sentence
kenning: Using a compound word neologism to form a metonym
merism: Referring to a whole by enumerating some of its parts
mimesis: Imitation of a person's speech or writing
onomatopoeia: Word that imitates a real sound (e.g. tick-tock or boom)
paradiastole: Repetition of the disjunctive pair "neither" and "nor"
parallelism: The use of similar structures in two or more clauses
paraprosdokian: Unexpected ending or truncation of a clause
parenthesis: A parenthetical entry
paroemion: Alliteration in which every word in a sentence or phrase begins with the same letter
parrhesia: Speaking openly or boldly, in a situation where it is unexpected (i.e. politics)
pleonasm: The use of additional words than are needed to express meaning
polyptoton: Repetition of words derived from the same root
polysyndeton: Close repetition of conjunctions
pun: When a word or phrase is used in two(or more) different senses
rhythm: A synonym for parallelism
sibilance: Repetition of letter 's', it is a form of alliteration
sine dicendo: A statement that is so obvious it need not be stated, and if stated, it seems almost pointless (e.g. 'It's
always in the last place you look.')
solecism: Trespassing grammatical and syntactical rules
spoonerism: Switching place of syllables within two words in a sentence yielding amusement
superlative: Declaring something the best within its class i.e. the ugliest, the most precious
synathroesmus: Agglomeration of adjectives to describe something or someone
syncope: Omission of parts of a word or phrase
symploce: Simultaneous use of anaphora and epistrophe: the repetition of the same word or group of words at the
beginning and the end of successive clauses
synchysis: Words that are intentionally scattered to create perplexment

synesis: Agreement of words according to the sense, and not the grammatical form
synecdoche: Referring to a part by its whole or vice versa

Figure of speech

synonymia: Use of two or more synonyms in the same clause or sentence

tautology: Redundancy due to superfluous qualification; saying the same thing twice
tmesis: Insertions of content within a compound word
zeugma: The using of one verb for two or more actions

Main article: Trope (linguistics)

accismus: expressing the want of something by denying it

allegory: Extended metaphor in which a symbolic story is told
allusion: Covert reference to another work of literature or art
ambiguity: Phrasing which can have two meanings
anacoenosis: Posing a question to an audience, often with the implication that it shares a common interest with the
analogy: A comparison
anapodoton: Leaving a common known saying unfinished
antanaclasis: A form of pun in which a word is repeated in two different senses
anthimeria: Transformating a word's word class

anthropomorphism: Ascribing human characteristics to something that is not human, such as an animal or a god
(see zoomorphism)
antimetabole: Repetition of words in successive clauses, but in switched order
antiphrasis: A name or a phrase used ironically.
antistasis: Repetition of a word in a different sense.
antonomasia: Substitution of a proper name for a phrase or vice versa
aphorism: Briefly phrased, easily memorable statement of a truth or opinion, an adage
apologia: Justifying one's actions
aporia: Faked or sincere puzzled questioning
apophasis: (Invoking) an idea by denying its (invocation)
appositive: Insertion of a parenthetical entry
apostrophe: Directing the attention away from the audience to an absent third party, often in the form of a
personified abstraction or inanimate object.
archaism: Use of an obsolete, archaic, word (a word used in olden language, e.g. Shakespeare's language)
auxesis: Form of hyperbole, in which a more important sounding word is used in place of a more descriptive term
bathos: Pompous speech with a ludicrously mundane worded anti-climax
burlesque metaphor: An amusing, overstated or grotesque comparison or examplification.
catachresis: Blatant misuse of words or phrases.
categoria: Candidly revealing an opponent's weakness
clich: Overused phrase or theme
circumlocution: Talking around a topic by substituting or adding words, as in euphemism or periphrasis
commiseration: Evoking pity in the audience
congeries: Accumulation of synonymous or different words or phrases together forming a single message
correctio: Linguistic device used for correcting one's mistakes, a form of which is epanorthosis
dehortatio: discouraging advice given with seeming sagacity
denominatio: Another word for metonymy
diatyposis: The act of giving counsel
double negative: Grammar construction that can be used as an expression and it is the repetition of negative words
dirimens copulatio: Juxtaposition of two ideas with a similar message
distinctio: Defining or specifying the meaning of a word or phrase you use

Figure of speech
dysphemism: Substitution of a harsher, more offensive, or more disagreeable term for another. Opposite of
dubitatio: Expressing doubt over one's ability to hold speeches, or doubt over other ability
ekphrasis: Lively describing something you see, often a painting
epanorthosis: Immediate and emphatic self-correction, often following a slip of the tongue
encomium: A speech consisting of praise; a eulogy
enumeratio: A sort of amplification and accumulation in which specific aspects are added up to make a point
epicrisis: Mentioning a saying and then commenting on it
epiplexis: Rhetorical question displaying disapproval or debunks
epitrope: Initially pretending to agree with an opposing debater or invite one to do something
erotema: Synonym for rhetorical question
erotesis: Rhetorical question expressing approvement or refusal of belief in
euphemism: Substitution of a less offensive or more agreeable term for another
grandiloquence: Pompous speech
exclamation: A loud calling or crying out
Invective: The act of insulting
humour: Provoking laughter and providing amusement

hyperbaton: Words that naturally belong together are separated from each other for emphasis or effect
hyperbole: Use of exaggerated terms for emphasis
hypocatastasis: An implication or declaration of resemblance that does not directly name both terms
hypophora: Answering one's own rhetorical question at length
hysteron proteron: Reversal of anticipated order of events; a form of hyperbaton
innuendo: Having a hidden meaning in a sentence that makes sense whether it is detected or not
inversion: A reversal of normal word order, especially the placement of a verb ahead of the subject (subject-verb
imperative sentence: The urging to do something
irony: Use of word in a way that conveys a meaning opposite to its usual meaning
kataphora: Repetition of a cohesive device at the end
litotes: Emphasizing the magnitude of a statement by denying its opposite
malapropism: Using a word through confusion with a word that sounds similar
meiosis: Use of understatement, usually to diminish the importance of something
merism: Referring to a whole by enumerating some of its parts
metalepsis: Figurative speech is used in a new context
metaphor: Figurative language
metonymy: A thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in
meaning with that thing or concept
neologism: The use of a word or term that has recently been created, or has been in use for a short time. Opposite
of archaism
non sequitur: Statement that bears no relationship to the context preceding
occupatio Mentioning something by reportedly not mentioning it
onomatopoeia: Words that sound like their meaning
oxymoron: Using two terms together, that normally contradict each other
par'hyponoian: Replacing in a phrase or text a second part, that would have been logically expected.
parable: Extended metaphor told as an anecdote to illustrate or teach a moral lesson
paradiastole: Making a euphemism out of what usually is considered adversive

paradox: Use of apparently contradictory ideas to point out some underlying truth
paradiastole: Extenuating a vice in order to flatter or soothe


Figure of speech

paraprosdokian: Phrase in which the latter part causes a rethinking or reframing of the beginning
paralipsis: Drawing attention to something while pretending to pass it over
parody: Humouristic imitation
paronomasia: Pun, in which similar sounding words but words having a different meaning are used
pathetic fallacy: Ascribing human conduct and feelings to nature
periphrasis: A synonym for circumlocution
personification/prosopopoeia/anthropomorphism: Attributing or applying human qualities to inanimate objects,
animals, or natural phenomena
pleonasm: The use of more words than is necessary for clear expression
praeteritio: Another word for paralipsis
procatalepsis: Refuting anticipated objections as part of the main argument
proslepsis: Extreme form of paralipsis in which the speaker provides great detail while feigning to pass over a
prothesis: Adding a syllable to the beginning of a word
proverb: Succinct or pithy, often metaphorical, expression of wisdom commonly believed to be true
pun: Play on words that will have two meanings

rhetorical question: Asking a question as a way of asserting something. Asking a question which already has the
answer hidden in it. Or asking a question not for the sake of getting an answer but for asserting something (or as
in a poem for creating a poetic effect)
satire: Humoristic criticism of society
sensory detail imagery: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell
sesquipedalianism: use of long and obscure words
simile: Comparison between two things using like or as
snowclone: Alteration of clich or phrasal template
style: how information is presented
superlative: Saying that something is the best of something or has the most of some quality, e.g. the ugliest, the
most precious etc.
syllepsis: The use of a word in its figurative and literal sense at the same time or where a single word is used in
relation to two other parts of a sentence although the word grammatically or logically applies to only one
syncatabasis (condescension, accommodation): adaptation of style to the level of the audience
synchoresis: A concession made for the purpose of retorting with greater force.
synecdoche: Form of metonymy, referring to a part by its whole, or a whole by its part
synesthesia: Description of one kind of sense impression by using words that normally describe another.
tautology: Superflous repetition of the same sense in different words Example: The children gathered in a round
transferred epithet: A synonym for hypallage.
truism: a self-evident statement
tricolon diminuens: Combination of three elements, each decreasing in size
tricolon crescens: Combination of three elements, each increasing in size
verbal paradox: Paradox specified to language
zeugma: Use of a single verb to describe two or more actions
zoomorphism: Applying animal characteristics to humans or gods


Figure of speech

[1] Jansen (2008), quote from the summary:

Using these formulas, a pupil could render the same subject or theme in a myriad of ways. For the
mature author, this principle offered a set of tools to rework source texts into a new creation. In short,
the quadripartita ratio offered the student or author a ready-made framework, whether for changing
words or the transformation of entire texts. Since it concerned relatively mechanical procedures of
adaptation that for the most part could be learned, the techniques concerned could be taught at school at
a relatively early age, for example inthe improvement of pupils own writing.
[2] Book V, 21.29, pp.303-5
[3] Institutio Oratoria, Vol. I, Book I, Chapter 5 (http:/ / penelope. uchicago. edu/ Thayer/ E/ Roman/ Texts/ Quintilian/ Institutio_Oratoria/ 1B*.
html), paragraphs 6 and 38-41. And also in Book VI Chapter 3 (http:/ / penelope. uchicago. edu/ Thayer/ E/ Roman/ Texts/ Quintilian/
Institutio_Oratoria/ 6C*. html)
[4] Rhetorica ad Herennium (http:/ / penelope. uchicago. edu/ Thayer/ E/ Roman/ Texts/ Rhetorica_ad_Herennium/ 4B*. html)
[5] Second Edition, McGraw-Hill, ISBN 0-07-557112-9, pp.451

This article is about imagery in literary texts. For imagery in cognitive psychology, see mental image. For various
senses of the word imaging, see Imaging, a disambiguation page.
Imagery, in a literary text, is an author's use of vivid and descriptive language to add depth to his or her work. It
appeals to human senses to deepen the reader's understanding of the work. Powerful forms of imagery engage all of
the senses and use metaphors to express ideas and concepts.

Forms of imagery
There are seven types of imagery, each corresponding to a sense, feeling, or action:

Visual imagery pertains sights, and allows the reader to visualize objects, events, actions, or places.
Auditory imagery pertains sounds. (This kind of imagery may come in the form of onomatopoeia).
Olfactory imagery pertains to odors.
Gustatory imagery pertains to flavors.
Tactile imagery pertains to textures.
Kinesthetic imagery pertains to movements.
Organic imagery or subjective imagery, pertains to personal experiences of a character's body, including
hunger, thirst, and fatigue.

External links
Imagery and Imagination ( entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Thomas, Nigel J.T (Winter 2011), "Mental Imagery" (, in
Zalta, Edward N., The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Stanford University), retrieved February 16, 2012


Literary technique


Literary technique
A literary technique (also known as literary device) is any method an author uses to convey their message. This
distinguishes them from literary elements, which exist inherently in literature.

Literary techniques pertaining to setting





Story that precedes events in the story being Though The Lord of the Rings trilogy takes place towards the end of the Third
toldpast events or background that add
Age, the narration in the beginning of the movie trilogy gives glimpses of the
meaning to current circumstances.
mythological/historical events which took place in the First and Second Age.

(also, plot dump)

Occurs when background information is

unelaborately told as opposed to narrated.

The so-called "As you know, Bob" conversation.

Literary techniques pertaining to plots





Story that precedes events in the story

Though The Lord of the Rings trilogy takes place towards the end of the Third Age,
being toldpast events or background
the narration gives glimpses of the mythological/historical events which took place
that add meaning to current circumstances in the First and Second Age.

Chekhov's gun

Insertion of an apparently irrelevant

object early in a narrative for a purpose
only revealed later. See foreshadowing
and repetitive designation.

In each of the Harry Potter novels, Harry and his classmates learn a spell or about a
facet of the Wizarding World that later comes into play at the climax of the book;
e.g. in The Chamber of Secrets, the students are raising mandrakes in Herbology,
which quite conveniently are able to cure petrification towards the end of the novel.


The narrative ends unresolved, to draw

the audience back to a future episode for
the resolution.

Almost every episode of the TV shows like Dexter and Breaking Bad ends with one
of the characters in a predicament (about to be caught by thugs, about to be exposed
by the authority, or a family member or a friend finds out the main character's dirty

Cut-up technique

An aleatory literary technique in which a

text is cut up and rearranged to create a
new text. Most commonly, cut-ups are
used to offer a non-linear alternative to
traditional reading and writing.

Tristan Tzara created poetry on the spot incorporating random clips of cut-up
newspaper in such a way that the short excerpt of the news becomes the backbone
of the "poetic plot" in the process of creation.

Deus ex machina
(a machination,
or act of god)

Resolving the primary conflict by a means An example occurs in Mighty Aphrodite.

unrelated to the story (e.g., a god appears
and solves everything). This device dates
back to ancient Greek theater, but can be a
clumsy method that frustrates the


Coined by J. R. R. Tolkien, a climactic

event through which the protagonist
appears to be facing a catastrophic
change. However, this change does not
materialize and the protagonist finds
himself as the benefactor of such a
climactic event; contrast

At the end of The Lord of the Rings, Gollum forcibly takes away the Ring from
Frodo, suggesting that Sauron would eventually take over Middle Earth. However,
Gollum celebrates too eagerly and clumsily and falls into the lava, whereby the ring
is destroyed and with it Sauron's power. In a way, Gollum does what Frodo and the
Fellowship of the Ring intended to do through the whole plot of the trilogy, which
was to throw the ring into the lake of fire in the heart of Mount Doom.

Literary technique


Flashback (or

General term for altering time sequences,

taking characters back to the beginning of
the tale, for instance

The story of "The Three Apples" in Arabian Nights tale begins with the discovery
of a young woman's dead body. After the murderer later reveals himself, he narrates
his reasons for the murder as a flashback of events leading up to the discovery of
her dead body at the beginning of the story.


Also called prolepsis, a scene that

Occurs in A Christmas Carol when Mr. Scrooge visits the ghost of the future. It is
temporarily jumps the narrative forward
also frequent in the later seasons of the television series Lost.
in time. Flashforwards often represent
events expected, projected, or imagined to
occur in the future. They may also reveal
significant parts of the story that have not
yet occurred, but soon will in greater


Implicit yet intentional efforts of an

author to suggest events which have yet to
take place in the process of narration. See
also repetitive designation and Chekhov's

A narration might begin with a male character who has to break up a schoolyard
fight among some boys who are vying for the attention of a girl, which was
introduced to foreshadow the events leading to a dinner time squabble between the
character and his twin brother over a woman, whom both are courting at the same

Frame story, or a
story within a

A main story that organizes a series of

shorter stories.

Early examples include Panchatantra, Arabian Nights, and The Decameron. A

more modern example is Brian Jacques' The Legend of Luke.

Framing device

A single action, scene, event, setting, or

any element of significance at the
beginning and end of a work. The use of
framing devices allow for frame stories to

In Arabian Nights, Scheherazade, the newly wed wife to the King, is the framing
device. As a character, she is telling the "1,001 stories" to the King, in order to
delay her execution night by night. However, as a framing device her purpose for
existing is to tell the same 1,001 stories to the reader.


A plot device in the form of some goal,

desired object, or other motivator that the
protagonist pursues, often with little or no
narrative explanation as to why it is
considered so important.

In medias res

Beginning the story in the middle of a

sequence of events. A specific form of
narrative hook.

The Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer are prime examples. The latter work begins
with the return of Odysseus to his home of Ithaka and then in flashbacks tells of his
ten years of wandering following the Trojan War.

Narrative hook

Story opening that "hooks" readers'

attention so they will keep reading

"In medias res" is an example.

Plot device

Object or character whose sole purpose is

to advance the plot

Indiana Jones chasing after some mystical object is a good example. The mere
knowledge that a mystical device exists is what makes the plot progress. This is in
contrast to the Ring in the LOTR plot. Whether The One Ring to Rule Them All can
be considered a mere plot device is debatable because more than the Ring itself is
Sauron's initiative to conquer Middle Earth that the character must do the things to
progress the plot. In addition to driving the plot along, the Ring ends up
representing a sinister symbol of the human greed for power.

Plot twist

Unexpected change ("twist") in the

direction or expected outcome of the plot.
See also twist ending.

An example occurs in The Crying Game.

Poetic justice

Virtue ultimately rewarded, or vice

Wile E. Coyote coming up with a contraption to catch the Road Runner, only to be
punished, by an ironic twist of fate related foiled and caught by his own devices. Each sin's punishment in Dante's Inferno is a
to the character's own conduct
symbolic instance of poetic justice.


Time travel paradox where a time traveler In Doctor Who, the main character repeatedly finds himself under the obligation of
is caught in a loop of events that
having to travel back in time because of something his future character has done.
"predestines" them to travel back in time

Literary technique



Plot device based on an argument that an

agreement's intended meaning holds no
legal value, and that only the exact, literal
words agreed on apply.

For example, William Shakespeare used a quibble in The Merchant of Venice:

Portia saves Antonio in a court of law by pointing out that the agreement called for
a pound of flesh, but no blood, so Shylock can collect only if he sheds no blood.

Red herring

A rhetorical tactic of diverting attention

away from an item of significance.

For example, in mystery fiction, an innocent party may be purposefully cast as

highly suspicious through emphasis or descriptive techniques to divert attention
from the true guilty party.


Repeated references to a character or

object that appears insignificant at first,
but later suddenly intrudes in the

Arabian Nights.


Prediction that, by being made, makes

itself come true.

Early examples include the legend of Oedipus, and the story of Krishna in the
Mahabharata. There is also an example of this in Harry Potter when Lord
Voldemort heard a prophecy (made by Sybill Trelawney to Dumbledore) that a boy
born at the end of July, whose parents had defied Voldemort thrice and survived,
would be made marked as his equal. Because of this prophecy, Lord Voldemort
sought out Harry Potter (believing him to be the boy spoken of) and tried to kill
him. His parents died protecting him, and when Voldemort tried to cast a killing
curse on Harry, it rebounded and took away most of his strength, and gave Harry
Potter a unique ability and connection with the Dark Lord thus marking him as his

Story within a

A story told within another story. See also In Stephen King's The Wind Through the Keyhole, of the Dark Tower series, the
frame story.
protagonist tells a story from his past to his companions, and in this story he tells
another relatively unrelated story.

Ticking clock

Threat of impending disasteroften used

in thrillers where salvation and escape are
essential elements

In the TV show "24", the main character, Jack Bauer often finds himself
interrogating a terrorist who is caught in order to disarm a bomb.


The narrator of the story is not sincere, or

introduces a bias in his narration and
possibly misleads the reader, hiding or
minimizing events, characters, or

An example is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.


See also foreshadowing and Chekhov's gun.

Literary techniques pertaining to narrative perspective




Author surrogate

Characters which are based on authors, usually to support their

personal views. Sometimes an intentionally or unintentionally
idealized version of them. A variation is the Mary Sue or Gary Stu,
which primarily serves as an idealized self-insertion.

Socrates in the writings of Plato.

Breaking the fourth


An author or character addresses the audience directly (also known

as direct address). This may acknowledge to the reader or audience
that what is being presented is fiction, or may seek to extend the
world of the story to provide the illusion that they are included in it.

The characters in Sesame Street often break the fourth

wall when they address their viewers as part of the
ongoing storyline, which is possible because of the
high level of suspension of belief afforded by its


Forcing the reader to recognize common things in an unfamiliar or

strange way, to enhance perception of the familiar.

A character who is trapped in a winter mountain cabin

runs out of food and cooks his leather boots. While he
is eating his own boots, he realizes how tough the
leather of his boots was.

Literary technique



A sudden perspective or insight which is revealed to the reader onto

a problem which had previously eluded all attempts at
understanding, which in turn, changes the interpretation of the plot,
character, narrative perspective, tone, and/or the style of writing.
Epiphanies occur spontaneously through an external stimulus or an
internal reflection.

Archimedes bathing in a pool of water and realizing

the solution to the problem of estimating the volume
of a given object.


A text presented from the point of view of a character, especially the

protagonist, as if the character is telling the story themselves.
(Breaking the fourth wall is an option, but not a necessity, of this

Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn uses

the title character as the narrator, while Sherlock
Holmes is primarily told from Watson's perspective.

Magical realism

Describing events in a real-world setting but with magical trappings,

often incorporating local customs and invented beliefs. Different
from urban fantasy in that the magic itself is not the focus of the

Particularly popular with Latin American authors like

Gabriel Garca Mrquez. Elsewhere, Salman
Rushdie's work provides good examples.

Mooreeffoc (also
written Moor

Coined by Charles Dickens and, as used by G. K. Chesterton. It

means describing everyday inanimate objects as if they behaved as
humans. See also Naturalistic Fallacy.

A toaster screaming for attention. Lightbulbs blinking

tiredly. A book gaping of hunger.


A text written in the style of a direct address, in the second-person.

Rape: A Love Story.

Stream of

The author uses narrative and stylistic devices to create the sense of An example is "Ulysses".
an unedited interior monologue, characterized by leaps in syntax and
punctuation that trace a character's fragmentary thoughts and sensory
feelings. The outcome is a highly lucid perspective with a plot. Not
to be confused with free writing.


A text written as if by an impersonal narrator who is not affected by

the events in the story. Can be omniscient or limited, the latter
usually being tied to a specific character, a group of characters, or a

A Song of Ice and Fire is written in multiple limited

third-person narrators that change with each chapter.
The Master and Margarita uses an omniscient

Unreliable narrator

The narrator of the story is not sincere, or introduces a bias in his

narration and possibly misleads the reader, hiding or minimizing
events, characters, or motivations.

An example is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Literary techniques pertaining to style

See also: Figure of speech

A symbolic story.

The account of Jesus could be interpreted as a story of many different
people who work very hard and succeed with improving the world.
Their reward is then extreme ingratitude. Timeless religious allegories
are usually referred to as myths.

Literary technique



Repeating the same letter or sound at the

beginning of adjacent or closely connected

In the film V for Vendetta the main character performs a couple of

soliloquies with a heavy use of alliteration. e.g.. "Voil! In view, a
humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain
by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is it
vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished, as the once vital voice
of the verisimilitude now venerates what they once vilified. However,
this valorous visitation of a bygone vexation stands vivified, and has
vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin vanguarding vice
and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of
volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not
in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the
vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most
verbose vis--vis an introduction, and so it is my very good honor to
meet you and you may call me V."


Amplification refers to a literary practice

wherein the writer embellishes the sentence by
adding more information to it in order to
increase its worth and understanding.

e.g. Original sentence- The thesis paper was difficult. After

amplification- The thesis paper was difficult: it required extensive
research, data collection, sample surveys, interviews and a lot of


Rearranging the letters of a word or a phrase to

form a new phrase or word.

e.g. An anagram for "debit card" is "bad credit". As you can see, both
phrases use the same letters. By mixing the letters a bit of humor is


When sentences do not use conjunctions (e.g.:

and, or, nor) to separate clauses, but run clauses
into one another, usually marking the separation
of clauses with punctuation.

An example is when John F. Kennedy said on January the 20th 1961

"...that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship,
support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success
of liberty."


An abrupt transition in style from the exalted to

the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect.
While often unintended, bathos may be used
deliberately to produce a humorous effect.

:The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg
behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
(Jennifer Hart, Arlington)


A break, especially a sense pause, usually near

the middle of a verse, and marked in scansion
by a double vertical line. This technique
frequently occurs within a poetic line
grammatically connected to the end of the
previous line by enjambment.

e.g. in "Know then thyself. Presume not God to scan."

Dionysian imitatio

The literary method of copying and improving

on material provided by previous writers.

In Ancient Greece was first formulated by Dionysius of Halicarnassus,

and the subsequent Latin rhetoricians adopted this literary method
instead of Aristotle's mere imitation of nature.

Distancing Effect

Removing obstacles erected to create an illusion Popularized by 20th century playwright Bertolt Brecht.
for the audience in a play. Example of such
behavior is hiding theatre machinery, the stage
curtain and instead of having scenery spelling
out the scenario of a scene.

Dramatic visualization

Representing an object or character with

This technique appears at least as far back as the Arabian Nights.
abundant descriptive detail, or mimetically
rendering gestures and dialogue to make a scene
more visual or imaginatively present to an


An artificial, highly elaborate way of writing or

speaking. Named from Euphues (1579) the
prose romance by John Lyly.

"Is it not far better to abhor sins by the remembrance of others' faults,
than by repentance of thine own follies?" (Euphues, 1, lecture by the
wise Neapolitan)


Exaggeration used to evoke strong feelings or

create an impression which is not meant to be
taken literally.

Sally could no longer hide her secret. Her pregnant belly was bigger
than the planet on which she stood.

Literary technique



Forming mental images of a scene using

descriptive words, especially making use of the
human senses. The same as sensory detail.

When the boots came off his feet with a leathery squeak, a smell of
ferment and fish market immediately filled the small tent. The skin of
his toes were red and raw and sensitive. The malodorous air was so
toxic he thought he could almost taste his toes.


Purposefully repeating words that usually

express a motif or theme important to the story.

This dates back at least to the Arabian Nights.


The rearrangement of words of the latter of two

consecutive sentences so that the latter sentence
adds color and mood to the former while
borrowing its words to affirm or deny its
existence.Wikipedia:Citation needed

e.g. "The large red room was gloomy. The gloomy redness of the room
was due largely to..."


Word or phrase in a figure of speech in which a

noun is referenced by something closely
associated with it, rather than explicitly by the
noun itself. This is not to be confused with
synecdoche, in which a part of the whole stands
for the thing itself.

Metonomy: The boxer threw in the towel. Synecdoche: She gave her
hand in marriage.


Exaggerating something, often for emphasis

(also known as hyperbole)

Sally's pregnant belly most likely weighed as much as the scooter she
used to ride before she got pregnant.


Word that sounds the same as, or similar to

what the word means.

"Boom goes the dynamite."


A term made of two words that deliberately or

coincidentally imply each other's opposite.

"terrible beauty"


A phrase that describes an idea composed of

concepts that conflict.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." (A Tale of Two


Ridicule by overstated imitation, usually


MAD Magazine


Using forms and styles from another author,

generally as an affectionate tribute.

Such as the many stories featuring Sherlock Holmes not written by

Arthur Conan Doyle, or much of the Cthulhu Mythos.


Emotional appeal, one of the three modes of

persuasion in rhetoric that the author uses to
inspire pity or sorrow towards a
charactertypically does not counterbalance
the target character's suffering with a positive
outcome, as in Tragedy.

In Romeo and Juliet, the two main characters each commit suicide at the
sight of the supposedly dead lover, however the audience knows these
actions to be rash and unnecessary. Therefore, Shakespeare makes for
the emotional appeal for the unnecessary tragedy behind the young
characters' rash interpretations about love and life.


Using words derived from similar roots or

origins with different meanings or roles within
the sentence.

An example of polyptoton which by the nature of the root word used

also contains alliteration and rhyme: His ambulation was not amble. It
was more of a wobble and stumble.


Polysyndeton is the use of several conjunctions

in close succession, this provides a sense of
exaggeration designed to wear down the

An example of this is in the first chapter of Great Expectations by

Charles Dickens: "A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered
in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and
torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and
whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin".


The use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or

ridicule to expose and criticize people's
stupidity or vices.

An example is Network.

Sensory detail

sight, sound, taste, touch, smell. The same as


The boot was tough and sinewy between his hard-biting teeth. There
was no flavor to speak of except for the blandness of all the dirt that the
boot had soaked up over the years. The only thing the boot reminded
him of was the smell of a wet-dog.


Literary technique



Overall attitude an author appears to hold

The novel Candide makes fun of its characters' suffering, while The
toward key elements of the work. Strictly
Sorrows of Young Werther takes its protagonist's suffering very
speaking, tone is generally an effect of literary
techniques, on the level of a work's overall
meaning or effect. The tone of a whole work is
not itself a literary technique. However, the tone
of a work, especially in a discrete section, may
help create the overall tone, effect, or meaning
of the work.


A diminishing or softening of a theme or effect.

The broken ends of the long bone was sticking through the bleeding
skin, but it wasn't something that always killed a man.

Vertical Story-telling
The italicizing of words at the end of select
Wikipedia:Verifiability sentences to remind the reader of a
consequential moment in the narrative without
adjusting the mechanics of the story to allow
lengthy and potentially distracting text. First
used by the American author Iimani David.

Anathema Rhodes: Dreams (2009). Published by The New York

Literary Society

Word play

A pun is a common example of word play.

Sounds of words used as an aspect of the work.

Literary techniques pertaining to theme





An extended metaphor associated with metaphysical poetry that pushes the

imagination's limits to portray something indescribable.


This discrepancy between expectation and reality occurs in three forms: situational
irony, where a situation features a discrepancy between what is expected and what
is actualized; dramatic irony, where a character is unaware of pivotal information
already revealed to the audience (the discrepancy here lies in the two levels of
awareness between the character and the audience); and verbal irony, where one
states one thing while meaning another. The difference between verbal irony and
sarcasm is exquisitely subtle and often contested. The concept of irony is too often
misunderstood in popular usage. Unfortunate circumstances and coincidences do
not constitute irony (nor do they qualify as being tragic). See the Usage
controversy section under irony, and the term tragedy.

A person hears a prophecy about himself. His

endeavor to stop the prophecy from coming true,
makes it come true.


One thing representing something else.

In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, all doodads are

very crooked and unnatural. This symbolizes
that the movie takes place in a dream. An overt
example of symbolism occurs in the film The
Matrix. The main character in that film, Neo, is
forced to make a choice. Either he chooses a red
pill or a blue pill. The blue pill means continue
living in a faked cyber reality. The red pill
means living in the real world and seeing how it
really is.


Distributing recurrent thematic concepts and moralistic motifs among various

incidents and frames of a story. In a skillfully crafted tale, thematic patterning may
emphasize the unifying argument or salient idea disparate events and disparate
frames have in common.

Each of the chapters of Ulysses by James Joyce.

Literary technique


Literary techniques pertaining to character




Anthropomorphism The same thing as personification.

Form of personification that

applies human-like
characteristics to animals or


Defined as the mimicking of dialogue by characters after a shifted context or place in time
to underscore the importance of the dialogue and its relation to the theme. Also known as
"shadowing". This technique, like foreshadowing, clues the reader to a portent of things to
come only after the repetition is made later in the narrative. Used by the American author
Iimani David.

Example, The Bastard published

by The New York Literary


The character flaw or error of a tragic hero that leads to his downfall.

Oedipus kills his own father

because he doesn't understand
his true parentage.

Pathetic fallacy

Reflecting a character's (usually the protagonist) mood in the atmosphere or inanimate

objects. Related to anthropomorphism and projection

For example, the storm in

William Shakespeare's King
Lear, which mirrors Lear's
mental deterioration.


Using comparative metaphors and similes to give living characteristics to non-living

objects. The same thing as anthropomorphism.

A talking rock.

Literary techniques pertaining to genre




Bildungsroman A type of novel concerned with education, development, and maturation Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Oliver Twist, Great
of a young protagonist. Essentially, a bildungsroman traces the formation Expectations, Carry on, Mr. Bowditch, The History of
of a protagonist's maturity (the passage from childhood to adulthood) by Tom Jones, a Foundling, Spirited Away
following the development of his/her mind and character.

Novel in the form of a series of documents (letters, e-mails, etc.)

exchanged between characters.

Pamela by Samuel Richardson (1740), The Expedition

of Humphry Clinker by Tobias Smollett (1771), Les
Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
(1782), Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

Roman clef

A fictitious novel in which representations of real people and real events

are disguised. The "key" lists the relationship between the nonfiction
characters and the fiction characters.

The Bell Jar, Primary Colors

[1] Heath (1994) p. 359
[2] High School Analogies (http:/ / writingenglish. wordpress. com/ 2006/ 09/ 12/
the-25-funniest-analogies-collected-by-high-school-english-teachers/ )

Heath, Peter (May 1994), "Reviewed work(s): Story-Telling Techniques in the Arabian Nights by David Pinault",
International Journal of Middle East Studies (Cambridge University Press) 26 (2): 358360, doi:
10.1017/s0020743800060633 (

Narrative mode

Narrative mode
The narrative mode (also known as the mode of narration) is the set of methods the author of a literary, theatrical,
cinematic, or musical story uses to convey the plot to the audience. Narration, the process of presenting the
narrative, occurs because of the narrative mode. It encompasses several overlapping areas, most importantly
narrative point of view, which determines through whose perspective the story is viewed and narrative voice, which
determines a set of consistent features regarding the way through which the story is communicated to the audience.
Narrative mode is a literary element.
The narrator may be either a fictional person devised by the author as a stand-alone entity, the author himself, and/or
a character in the story. The narrator is considered participant if he/she is a character in the story, and
non-participant if he/she is an implied character or an omniscient or semi-omniscient being who merely relates the
story to the reader.
The narrative mode encompasses not only who tells the story, but also how the story is told (for example, by using
stream of consciousness or unreliable narration).
The narrator may be more than one person, to illustrate the story lines of various people at the same, similar or
different times. This can be more effective than a singular point of view as it allows for greater complexity

Narrative point of view

Narrative point of view in the creative writing of fiction describes the narrator's position in relation to the story being
told. It has been compared to a camera:
When you are reading a scene in a book and when you are writing a scene, you follow the character almost
like a camera on the character's shoulder or in the character's head. You are looking at the character
performing a specific set of actions or important actions in vivid detail.
Jenna Blum in The Author at Work, 2013[1]

First-person view
Main article: First-person narrative
In a first-person narrative, the story is revealed through a narrator who is also a character within the story, so that
the narrator reveals the plot by referring to this viewpoint character as "I" (or, when plural, "we"). Often, the
first-person narrative is used as a way to directly convey the deeply internal, otherwise unspoken thoughts of the
narrator. Frequently, the narrator is the protagonist, whose inner thoughts are expressed to the reader, even if not to
any of the other characters. This character can be further developed through individual narrative style. First-person
narrations may be told like third-person (or omniscient) ones, in the guise of a person directly undergoing the events
in the story without being aware of conveying that experience to readers; alternatively, the narrator may be conscious
of telling the story to a given audience, perhaps at a given place and time, for a given reason. A conscious narrator,
as a human participant of past events, is an imperfect witness by definition, unable to fully see and comprehend
events in their entirety as they unfurl, not necessarily objective in their inner thoughts or sharing them fully, and
furthermore may be pursuing some hidden agenda. Other forms include temporary first-person narration as a story
within a story, wherein a narrator or character observing the telling of a story by another is reproduced in full,
temporarily and without interruption shifting narration to the speaker. The first-person narrator can also be the focal
The first-person narrator is always a character within his/her own story (whether the protagonist or not). This
viewpoint character takes action, makes judgments and expresses opinions, thereby not always allowing the audience
to comprehend the other characters' thoughts, feelings, or perceptions as much as the narrator's own. We become


Narrative mode


aware of the events and characters of the story through the narrator's views and knowledge.[2]
In some cases, the narrator gives and withholds information based on their own experience. It is an important task for
the reader to determine as much as possible about the character of the narrator in order to decide what "really"
happens. Example:
I could picture it. I have a habit of imagining the conversations between my friends. We went out to the Cafe
Napolitain to have an aperitif and watch the evening crowd on the Boulevard.
Ernest Hemingway as the protagonist Jake Barnes, The Sun Also Rises
Some stories are told in first person plural ("we"). Examples are the short stories Twenty-Six Men and a Girl by
Maxim Gorky and A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner, The Treatment of Bibi Haldar by Jhumpa Lahiri, The
Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, During the Reign of the Queen of Persia by Joan Chase, Our Kind by Kate
Walbert, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, and Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.
The narrator can be the protagonist (e.g., Gulliver in Gulliver's Travels), someone very close to him who is privy to
his thoughts and actions (Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes), or an ancillary character who has little to do with the
action of the story (such as Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby). Narrators can report others' narratives at one or
more removes. These are called 'frame narrators': examples are Mr. Lockwood, the narrator in Wuthering Heights by
Emily Bront; and the unnamed narrator in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Skilled writers choose to skew
narratives, in keeping with the narrator's character, to an arbitrary degree, from ever so slight to extreme. For
example, the aforementioned Mr. Lockwood is quite naive, of which fact he appears unaware, simultaneously rather
pompous, and re-counting a combination of stories, experiences, and servants' gossip. As such, his character is an
unintentionally very unreliable narrator, and serves mainly to mystify, confuse, and ultimately leave the events of
Wuthering Heights open to a great range of interpretations.
Other types of narrating characters may greatly affect what the reader sees of events and how, intentionally or
unintentionally, in any number of ways. Character weaknesses and faults, such as tardiness, cowardice, or vice, may
leave the narrator unintentionally absent or unreliable for certain key events. Specific events may further be colored
or obscured by a narrator's background, since non-omniscient characters must by definition be laypersons and
foreigners to some circles, and limitations such as poor eyesight and illiteracy may also leave important blanks.
Unstable or malevolent narrators can also lie to the reader.
In autobiographical fiction, the first person narrator is the character of the author (with varying degrees of historical
accuracy). The narrator is still distinct from the author and must behave like any other character and any other first
person narrator. Examples of this kind of narrator include Jim Carroll in The Basketball Diaries and Kurt Vonnegut
Jr. in Timequake (in this case, the first-person narrator is also the author). In some cases, the narrator is writing a
book "the book in your hands" and therefore he has most of the powers and knowledge of the author.
Examples include The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by
Mark Haddon.
A rare form of first person is the first person omniscient, in which the narrator is a character in the story, but also
knows the thoughts and feelings of all the other characters. It can seem like third person omniscient at times. A
reasonable explanation fitting the mechanics of the story's world is generally provided or inferred, unless its glaring
absence is a major plot point. Two notable examples are The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, where the narrator is
Death, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, where a young girl, having been killed, observes, from some
post-mortem, extracorporeal viewpoint, her family struggling to cope with her disappearance. Typically, however,
the narrator restricts the events relayed in the narrative to those that could reasonably be known. Novice writers may
make the mistake of allowing elements of omniscience into a first-person narrative unintentionally and at random,
forgetting the inherent human limitations of a witness or participant of the events.

Narrative mode


Second-person view
Main article: Second-person narrative
The rarest mode in literature (though quite common in song lyrics) is the second-person narrative mode, in which
the narrator refers to the reader as "you", therefore making the audience member feel as if he or she is a character
within the story. Examples of this are the "Choose Your Own Adventure" and "Fighting Fantasy" series of books
which were popular in the 1980s. Another common place to see this is in preschool television shows in which
characters will tell the audience to follow them, or ask the audience questions. Second-person narrative mode is often
paired with the first-person narrative mode in which the narrator makes emotional comparisons between the
thoughts, actions, and feelings of "you" versus "I". Often the narrator is also a character in his or her story, in which
case it would technically still be employing the first-person narrative mode; an example of this form is A Song of
Stone by Iain Banks.
In letters and greeting cards, the second-person narrative mode is most often used in a non-fictional tone.
Perhaps the most prominent example of this mode in contemporary literature is Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big
City. In this novel, the second-person point of view is intended to create an intense sense of intimacy between the
narrator and the reader, causing the reader to feel implicit in and powerless against a plot that leads him, blindly,
through his (the readers and the narrators) own destruction and redemption:
You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and
you cannot say the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. You are at a nightclub talking
to a girl with a shaved head. The club is either Heartbreak or the Lizard Lounge. All might become clear if you
could just slip into the bathroom and do a little more Bolivian Marching Powder. Then again, it might not. A
small voice inside you insists that this epidemic lack of clarity is a result of too much of that already.
Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City

Third-person view
Third-person narration provides the greatest flexibility to the author and thus is the most commonly used narrative
mode in literature. In the third-person narrative mode, each and every character is referred to by the narrator as
"he", "she", "it", or "they", but never as "I" or "we" (first-person), or "you" (second-person). In third-person
narrative, it is clear that the narrator is an unspecified entity or uninvolved person who conveys the story and is not a
character of any kind within the story. Third-person singular (he/she) is overwhelmingly the most common type of
third-person narrative, but there have been successful uses of the third-person plural (they). Even more common is
for an author to use both singular and plural in a story, at different times, based on the number of people being
referred to at a given moment in the plot.
If the narrator of the story is not present, or is present but is not the protagonist, and the story told is about someone
else and is not the narrator's own story, the story is narrated by He/She perspective.[3]
The third-person modes are usually categorized along two axes. The first is the subjectivity/objectivity axis, with
"subjective" narration describing one or more character's feelings and thoughts, and "objective" narration not
describing the feelings or thoughts of any characters. The second axis is the omniscient/limited axis, a distinction
that refers to the knowledge available to the narrator. An omniscient narrator has knowledge of all times, people,
places, and events, including all characters' thoughts; a limited narrator, in contrast, may know absolutely everything
about a single character and every piece of knowledge in that character's mind, but the narrator's knowledge is
"limited" to that characterthat is, the narrator cannot describe things unknown to the focal character.

Narrative mode

Alternating person view

While the general rule is for novels to adopt a single approach to point of view throughout the novel's entirety, it is
not mandatory to conform to this rule. Many stories, especially in literature, alternate between the third person
limited and third person omniscient. In this case, an author will move back and forth between a more omniscient
third-person narrator to a more personal third-person limited narrator. The Harry Potter series is told in third person
limited for much of the seven novels, but deviates to omniscient in that it switches the limited
viewWikipedia:Citation needed to other characters from time to time, rather than only the protagonist. However, like
the A Song of Ice and Fire series and the books by George RR Martin, a switch of viewpoint is done only at chapter
boundaries.The Home and the World, written in 1916 by Rabindranath Tagore, is another example of a book
switching among just three characters at chapter boundaries. In The Heroes of Olympus series the point of view
changes between characters at intervals. Omniscient point of view is also referred to as alternating point of
view,Wikipedia:Citation needed because the story sometimes alternates between characters. Often, a narrator using
the first person will try to be more objective by also employing the third person for important action scenes,
especially those in which they are not directly involved or in scenes where they are not present to have viewed the
events in firsthand. This mode is found in the novel The Poisonwood Bible.
Epistolary novels, which were common in the early years of the novel, generally consist of a series of letters written
by different characters, and necessarily switching when the writer changes; the classic books Frankenstein by Mary
Shelley, Dracula by Abraham "Bram" Stoker and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde take this approach.
Sometimes, however, they may all be letters from one character, such as C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters and
Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island switches between third and first
person, as do Charles Dickens's Bleak House and Vladimir Nabokov's The Gift. Many of William Faulkner's novels
take on a series of first-person viewpoints. E.L. Konigsburg's novella The View from Saturday uses flashbacks to
alternate between third- person and first-person perspectives throughout the book, as does Edith Wharton's novel
Ethan Frome. After the First Death, by Robert Cormier, a novel about a fictional school bus hijacking in the late
1970s, also switches from first- to third-person narrative using different characters. The novel The Death of Artemio
Cruz, by Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes, switches between the three persons from one chapter to the next, even
though all refer to the same protagonist. The novel Dreaming in Cuban, by Cristina Garca alternates between
third-person, limited and first-person perspectives, depending on the generation of the speaker: the grandchildren
recount events in first-person viewpoints while the parents and grandparent are shown in the third-person, limited

Narrative voice
The narrative voice describes how the story is conveyed: for example, by "viewing" a character's thought processes,
reading a letter written for someone, retelling a character's experiences, etc.

Stream-of-consciousness voice
Main article: Stream of consciousness (narrative mode)
A stream of consciousness gives the (typically first-person) narrator's perspective by attempting to replicate the
thought processesas opposed to simply the actions and spoken wordsof the narrative character. Often, interior
monologues and inner desires or motivations, as well as pieces of incomplete thoughts, are expressed to the audience
but not necessarily to other characters. Examples include the multiple narrators' feelings in William Faulkner's The
Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, the character Offred's often fragmented thoughts in Margaret Atwood's The
Handmaid's Tale, and the development of the narrator's nightmarish experience in Queen's hit song "Bohemian
The creation of this mode of writing is often attributedWikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch#Unsupported
attributions to Irish writer James Joyce by virtue of his novel Ulysses.


Narrative mode

Character voice
One of the most common narrative voices, used especially with first- and third-person viewpoints, is the character
voice, in which a conscious "person" (in most cases, a living human being) is presented as the narrator. In this
situation, the narrator is no longer an unspecified entity; rather, the narrator is a more relatable, realistic character
who may or may not be involved in the actions of the story and who may or may not take a biased approach in the
storytelling. If the character is directly involved in the plot, this narrator is also called the viewpoint character. The
viewpoint character is not necessarily the focal character: examples of supporting viewpoint characters include
Doctor Watson, Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, and Nick Carraway of The Great Gatsby.
Unreliable voice
Main article: Unreliable narrator
Under the character voice is the unreliable narrative voice, which involves the use of a dubious or untrustworthy
narrator. This mode may be employed to give the audience a deliberate sense of disbelief in the story or a level of
suspicion or mystery as to what information is meant to be true and what is to be false. This lack of reliability is
often developed by the author to demonstrate that the narrator is in some state of psychosis. The narrator of Poe's
"The Tell-Tale Heart," for example, is significantly biased, unknowledgeable, ignorant, childish, or is perhaps
purposefully trying to deceive the audience.Wikipedia:Citation needed Unreliable narrators are usually first-person
narrators; however, when a third-person narrator is considered unreliable for any reason, their viewpoint may be
termed "third-person, subjective".
Examples include Nelly Dean in Wuthering Heights, "Chief" Bromden in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Holden
Caulfield in the novel The Catcher In The Rye, Dr. James Sheppard in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Stark in Only
Forward, both John Shade and Charles Kinbote in the novel Pale FireWikipedia:Citation needed and John Dowell in
the novel The Good SoldierWikipedia:Citation needed.
A naive narrator is one who is so ignorant and inexperienced that they actually expose the faults and issues of their
world. This is used particularly in satire, whereby the user can draw more inferences about the narrator's
environment than the narrator. Child narrators can also fall under this category.

Epistolary voice
Main article: Epistolary novel
The epistolary narrative voice uses a (usually fictional) series of letters and other documents to convey the plot of
the story. Although epistolary works can be considered multiple-person narratives, they also can be classified
separately, as they arguably have no narrator at alljust an author who has gathered the documents together in one
place. One famous example is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which is a story written in a sequence of letters. Another
is Bram Stoker's Dracula, which tells the story in a series of diary entries, letters and newspaper clippings. Les
Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons), by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, is again made up of the correspondence
between the main characters, most notably the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont. Langston Hughes
does the same thing in a shorter form in his story "Passing", which consists of a young man's letter to his mother. In
recent times, perhaps the most critically acclaimed literary work employing this sort of narrative would be the song
'Stan' from The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem.


Narrative mode

Third-person voices
The third-person narrative voices are narrative-voice techniques employed solely under the category of the
third-person view.
Third-person, subjective
The third-person subjective is when the narrator conveys the thoughts, feelings, opinions, etc. of one or more
characters. If there is just one character, it can be termed third-person limited, in which the reader is "limited" to
the thoughts of some particular character (often the protagonist) as in the first-person mode, except still giving
personal descriptions using "he", "she", "it", and "they", but not "I". This is almost always the main character (e.g.,
Gabriel in Joyce's The Dead, Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown, or the elderly fisherman in
Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea). George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire is an example of a series
with each chapter presented from the point of view of one of the numerous characters. Certain third-person
omniscient modes are also classifiable as "third person, subjective" modes that switch between the thoughts, feelings,
etc. of all the characters.
This style, in both its limited and omniscient variants, became the most popular narrative perspective during the 20th
century. In contrast to the broad, sweeping perspectives seen in many 19th-century novels, third-person subjective is
sometimes called the "over the shoulder" perspective; the narrator only describes events perceived and information
known by a character. At its narrowest and most subjective scope, the story reads as though the viewpoint character
were narrating it; dramatically this is very similar to the first person, in that it allows in-depth revelation of the
protagonist's personality, but it uses third-person grammar. Some writers will shift perspective from one viewpoint
character to another.
The focal character, protagonist, antagonist, or some other character's thoughts are revealed through the narrator. The
reader learns the events of the narrative through the perceptions of the chosen character.
Third-person, objective
The third-person objective employs a narrator who tells a story without describing any character's thoughts,
opinions, or feelings; instead, it gives an objective, unbiased point of view. Often the narrator is self-dehumanized in
order to make the narrative more neutral. This type of narrative mode, outside of fiction, is often employed by
newspaper articles, biographical documents, and scientific journals. This narrative mode can be described as a
"fly-on-the-wall" or "camera lens" approach that can only record the observable actions but does not interpret these
actions or relay what thoughts are going through the minds of the characters. Works of fiction that use this style
emphasize characters acting out their feelings observably. Internal thoughts, if expressed, are given voice through an
aside or soliloquy. While this approach does not allow the author to reveal the unexpressed thoughts and feelings of
the characters, it does allow the author to reveal information that not all or any of the characters may be aware of. A
typical example of this so-called camera-eye perspective is Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway.
The third-person objective is preferred in most pieces that are deliberately trying to take a neutral or unbiased view,
like in many newspaper articles. It is also called the third-person dramatic because the narrator, like the audience
of a drama, is neutral and ineffective toward the progression of the plotmerely an uninvolved onlooker. It was also
used around the mid-20th century by French novelists writing in the nouveau roman tradition.Wikipedia:Citation


Narrative mode
Third-person, omniscient
Historically, the third-person omniscient perspective has been the most commonly used; it is seen in countless
classic novels, including works by Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, and George Eliot. A story in this narrative mode is
presented by a narrator with an overarching point of view, seeing and knowing everything that happens within the
world of the story, including what each of the characters is thinking and feeling. It sometimes even takes a subjective
approach. One advantage of omniscience is that this mode enhances the sense of objective reliability (i.e.
truthfulness) of the plot. The third-person omniscient narrator is the least capable of being unreliablealthough the
omniscient narrator can have its own personality, offering judgments and opinions on the behavior of the characters.
In addition to reinforcing the sense of the narrator as reliable (and thus of the story as true), the main advantage of
this mode is that it is eminently suited to telling huge, sweeping, epic stories, and/or complicated stories involving
numerous characters. The disadvantage of this mode is the increased distance between the audience and the story,
and the fact thatwhen used in conjunction with a sweeping, epic "cast-of-thousands" storycharacterization tends
to be limited, thus reducing the reader's ability to identify with or sympathize with the characters. A classic example
of both the advantages and disadvantages of this mode is J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
Some writers and literary critics make the distinction between the third-person omniscient and the universal
omniscient, the difference being that in the universal omniscient, the narrator reveals information that the characters
do not have. Usually, the universal omniscient reinforces the idea of the narrator being unconnected to the events of
the story.

Narrative time
The narrative tense or narrative time determines the grammatical tense of the story; whether in the past, present,
or future.

Past tense
The most common in literature and story-telling in the English, Chinese, (Modern and Ancient) Greek, Italian, and
Portuguese languages; the events of the plot are depicted as occurring sometime before the current moment or the
time at which the narrative was constructed or expressed to an audience. (e.g. "They drove happily. They had found
their way and were preparing to celebrate.")

Present tense
The events of the plot are depicted as occurring nowat the current momentin real time. (e.g. "They drive
happily. They find their way and now prepare to celebrate.") In English, this tense, known as the "historical present",
is more common in spontaneous conversational narratives than in written literature. A recent example of this is the
Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.

Future tense
Extremely rare in literature, this tense portrays the events of the plot as occurring some time in the future. Often,
these upcoming events are described such that the narrator has foreknowledge (or supposed foreknowledge) of the
future. Some future-tense stories have a prophetic tone. (e.g. "They will drive happily. They will find their way and
will prepare to celebrate.")


Narrative mode

Other narrative modes

Fiction-writing mode
Narration has more than one meaning. In its broadest sense, narration encompasses all forms of story-telling,
fictional or not: personal anecdotes, "true crime", and historical narratives all fit here, along with many other
non-fiction forms. More narrowly, however, term narration refers to all written fiction. In its most restricted sense,
narration is the fiction-writing mode whereby the narrator communicates directly to the reader.
Along with exposition, argumentation, and description, narration (broadly defined) is one of four rhetorical modes of
discourse. In the context of rhetorical modes, the purpose of narration is to tell a story or to narrate an event or series
of events. Narrative may exist in a variety of forms: biographies, anecdotes, short stories, or novels. In this context,
all written fiction may be viewed as narration.
Narrowly defined, narration is the fiction-writing mode whereby the narrator is communicating directly to the reader.
But if the broad definition of narration includes all written fiction, and the narrow definition is limited merely to that
which is directly communicated to the reader, then what comprises the rest of written fiction? The remainder of
written fiction would be in the form of any of the other fiction-writing modes. Narration, as a fiction-writing mode,
is a matter for discussion among fiction writers and writing coaches.
The ability to use the different points of view is one measure of a person's writing skill. The writing mark schemes
used for National Curriculum assessments in England reflect this: they encourage the awarding of marks for the use
of viewpoint as part of a wider judgment.

Other types and uses

Main article: Narrator
In literature, person is used to describe the viewpoint from which the narrative is presented. Although second-person
perspectives are occasionally used, the most commonly encountered are first and third person. Third person
omniscient specifies a viewpoint in which readers are provided with information not available to characters within
the story; without this qualifier, readers may or may not have such information.
In movies and video games first- and third-person describe camera viewpoints. The first-person is from a character's
own perspective, and the third-person is the more familiar, "general" camera showing a scene. A so-called
second-person may also be used to show a main character from a secondary character's perspective.
For example, in a horror film, the first-person perspective of an antagonist could become a second-person
perspective on a potential victim's actions. A third-person shot of the two characters could be used to show the
narrowing distance between them.
In video games, a first-person perspective is used most often in the first-person shooter genre, such as in Doom, or in
simulations (racing games, flight simulation games, and such). Third-person perspectives on characters are typically
used in all other games. Since the arrival of 3D computer graphics in games it is often possible for the player to
switch between first- and third-person perspectives at will; this is usually done to improve spatial awareness, but can
also improve the accuracy of weapons use in generally third-person games such as the Metal Gear Solid franchise.
Text-based interactive fiction conventionally has descriptions written in the second person (though exceptions exist),
telling the character what they are seeing and doing, such as Zork. This practice is also encountered occasionally in
text-based segments of graphical games. Charles Stross's novel Halting State was written in second person as an
allusion to this style.


Narrative mode

[1] Jenna Blum, 2013, The Modern Scholar published by Recorded Books, The Author at Work: The Art of Writing Fiction, Disk 1, Tracks
14-15, ISBN 978-1-4703-8437-1, a camera on the character's shoulder...
[2] Ranjbar Vahid. The Narrator, Iran:Baqney. 2011 (http:/ / signbook. persiangig. com/ document/ literature/ theory/ raavi1. pdf)
[3] Ranjbar Vahid. The Narrator, Iran:Baqney 2011 (http:/ / signbook. persiangig. com/ document/ literature/ theory/ raavi1. pdf)

Further reading
Rasley, Alicia (2008). The Power of Point of View: Make Your Story Come to Life (1st ed.). Cincinnati, Ohio:
Writer's Digest Books. ISBN1599633558.
Card, Orson Scott (1988). Characters and Viewpoint (1st ed.). Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Books.
Fludernik, Monika (1996). Towards a "Natural" Narratology. London: Routledge.
Genette, Grard. Narrative Discourse. An Essay in Method. Transl. by Jane Lewin. Oxford: Blackwell 1980
(Translation of Discours du rcit).
Stanzel, Franz Karl. A theory of Narrative. Transl. by Charlotte Goedsche. Cambridge: CUP 1984 (Transl. of
Theorie des Erzhlens).
Ranjbar Vahid. (2011) The Narrator, Iran:Baqney (

Stylistic device
See also: Figure of speech
In literature and writing, Stylistic Elements are the use of any of a variety of techniques to give an auxiliary
meaning, idea, or feeling to the literal or written.

Figurative language
A figure of speech is any way of saying something other than the ordinary way. Figurative language is language
using figures of speech.[1] Irony- a subtle of meaning

The easiest stylistic device to find is a simile, because you only have to look for the words "as" or "like". A simile is
a comparison used to attract the reader's attention and describe something in descriptive terms.
Example: "From up here on the fourteenth floor, my brother Charley looks like an insect scurrying among
other insects." (from "Sweet Potato Pie," Eugenia Collier)
Example: The beast had eyes as big as baseballs and teeth as long as knives.
Example: She put her hand to the boy's head, which was steaming like a hot train.


Stylistic device

A metaphor is like a simile but you do not use "like" or "as" in the sentence like you would in a simile.
Example:"That boy is as fast as a fox" which would be a simile but "That boy is a fox" would be a Metaphor

Synecdoche occurs when a part of something is used to refer to the whole.[2] Many examples of synecdoche are
idioms, common to the language.
Example: Workers can be referred to as pairs of hands, a vehicle as ones wheels or mounted infantrymen
as horse, the latter appearing to be singular but actually employing the generic plural form: "Napoleon
deployed two thousand horse to cover the left flank."

Metonymy is similar to synecdoche, but instead of a part representing the whole, a related object or part of a related
object is used to represent the whole.[3] Often it is used to represent the whole of an abstract idea.
Example: The phrase "The king's rifles stood at attention," uses 'rifles' to represent infantry.
Example: The word 'crown' may be used metonymically to refer to the king or queen, and at times to the law
of the land.

Giving human or animal characteristics to inanimate objects.
Example: The wind whistled through the trees. (Wind cannot whistle, humans whistle.)

Similar to 'personification' but direct. The speaker addresses someone absent or dead, or addresses an inanimate or
abstract object as if it were human.[4]

This is when the name of a character has a symbolic meaning. For example, in Dickens' Great Expectations, Miss
Havisham has a sham, or lives a life full of pretense. In Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Rev. Dimmesdale
metaphorically fades away (dims) as the novel progresses, while Chillingworth has a cold (chilled) heart.

A symbol may be an object, a person, a situation, an action, a word, or an idea that has literal meaning in the story as
well as an alternative identity that represents something else.[5] It is used as an expressive way to depict an idea. The
symbol generally conveys an emotional response far beyond what the word, idea, or image itself dictates.
Example: A heart standing for love. (One might say "It broke my heart" rather than "I was really upset")
Example: A sunrise portraying new hope. ("All their fears melted in the face of the newly risen sun.")


Stylistic device

An allegory is a story that has a second meaning, usually by endowing characters, objects or events with symbolic
significance. The entire story functions symbolically; often a pattern relates each literal item to a corresponding
abstract idea or principle. Although the surface story may have its own interest, the author's major interest is in the
ulterior meaning.[6]

This is when the author invokes sensory details. Often, this is simply to draw a reader more deeply into a story by
helping the reader visualize what is being described. However, imagery may also symbolize important ideas in a
For example, in Saki's "The Interlopers," two men engaged in a generational feud become trapped beneath a fallen
tree in a storm: "Ulrich von Gradwitz found himself stretched on the ground, one arm numb beneath him and the
other held almost as helplessly in a tight tangle of forked branches, while both legs were pinned beneath the fallen
mass." Readers can not only visualize the scene, but may infer from it that it is actually the feud that has trapped him.
Note also the diction used within the imagery: words like "forked" and "fallen" imply a kind of hell that he is trapped

When a word, phrase, image, or idea is repeated throughout a work or several works of literature.
For example, in Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," he describes a futuristic "smart house" in a
post-nuclear-war time period. All life is dead except for one dog, which dies in the course of the story. However,
Bradbury mentions mice, snakes, robins, swallows, giraffes, antelopes, and many other animals in the course of the
story. This animal motif establishes a contrast between the past, when life was flourishing, and the story's present,
when all life is dead.
Motifs may also be used to establish mood (as the blood motif in Shakespeare's Macbeth), for foreshadowing (as
when Mary Shelley, in Frankenstein, mentions the moon almost every time the creature is about to appear), to
support the theme (as when, in Sophocles' drama Oedipus Rex, the motif of prophecy strengthens the theme of the
irresistibility of the gods), or for other purposes.

In literary terminology, a paradox is an apparent contradiction that is nevertheless somehow true.[7] Paradox can take
the form of an oxymoron, overstatement or understatement. Paradox can blend into irony.

Sound techniques
The repetition of identical or similar sounds, usually accented vowel sounds and succeeding consonant sounds at the
end of words, and often at the ends of lines of prose or poetry.[8]
For example, in the following lines from a poem by A.E. Housman, the last words of both lines rhyme with each
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough


Stylistic device

Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words.
Example: "...many a man is making friends with death/ Even as I speak, for lack of love alone." (Edna St.
Vincent Millay's "Sonnet 30").
Alliteration is used by an author to create emphasis, to add beauty to the writing style, and occasionally to aid in
shaping the mood.

Similar to alliteration, in which vowel sounds are repeated.They are usually in the middle of a word.[9]
Example: "batter that mattered", "the blue bulging plug."

Similar to alliteration, but the consonants are at the ends of words.[10]
Example: "odds and ends", "short and sweet."

It is most important in poetry, but also used in prose for emphasis and aesthetic gain.
Example: The fallibly irrevocable cat met its intrinsic match in the oppositional form of a dog.

This includes words that sound like their meaning, or imitations of sounds.
Example: "The bees were buzzing"

Formal structure
Formal structure refers to the forms of a text. In the first place, a text is either a novel, a drama, a poem, or some
other "form" of literature. However, this term can also refer to the length of lines, stanzas, or cantos in poems, as
well as sentences, paragraphs, or chapters in prose. Furthermore, such visible structures as dialogue versus narration
are also considered part of formal structure.

Storyline and Plot

The storyline is the chronological account of events that follow each other in the narrative. Plot includes the
storyline, and is more; it includes the way in which elements in the story interact to create complexity, intrigue, and
surprise. Plot is often created by having separate threads of storyline interact at critical times and in unpredictable
ways, creating unexpected twists and turns in the overall storyline.

Plot structure
Plot structure refers to the configuration of a plot in terms of its exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and
resolution/denouement. For example, Dickens' novel Great Expectations is noted for having only a single page of
exposition before the rising action begins, while The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien has an unusually lengthy
falling action. Plot can also be structured by use of devices such as flashbacks, framing and epistolary elements.


Stylistic device
A flashback (which is one of the most easily recognized utilization of plot structure) is a scene in a writing which
occurs outside of the current timeline, before the events that are actually occurring in the story. It is used to explain
plot elements, give background and context to a scene, or explain characteristics of characters or events. For
instance, one chapter may be at the present time in a character's life, and then the next chapter might be the
character's life years ago. The second chapter gives meaning to the first, as it explains other events the character
experienced and thus puts present events in context. In Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, the first short chapter
occurs in the narrative's real time; most of the remainder of the book is a flashback.
Frame story
When there is a lengthy flashback comprising more than half of the text, a frame story is the portion outside the
flashback. For example, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein uses the adventures of a sea captain as a frame story for the
famous tale of the scientist and his creation. Occasionally, an author will have an unfinished frame, such as in Henry
James's "The Turn of the Screw." The lack of a finishing frame in this story has the effect of leaving the reader
disoriented, adding to the disturbed mood of the story.

This is when the author drops clues about what is to come in a story, which builds tension and the reader's suspense
throughout the book.
Example: The boy kissed his mother and warmly embraced her, oblivious to the fact that this was the last time
he would ever see her.

Allusion is a reference to something from history or literature.[11]

Main article: Irony

Verbal Irony
This is the simplest form of irony, in which the speaker says the opposite of what he or she intends. There are several
forms, including Euphemism, Understatement, Sarcasm, and some forms of humor.[12]

Situational irony
This is when the author creates a surprise that is the perfect opposite of what one would expect, often creating either
humor or an eerie feeling. For example, in Steinbeck's novel The Pearl, one would think that Kino and Juana would
have become happy and successful after discovering the "Pearl of the World," with all its value. However, their lives
changed dramatically for the worse after discovering it.
Similarly, in Shakespeare's Hamlet, the title character almost kills King Claudius at one point, but resists because
Claudius is praying and therefore may go to heaven. As Hamlet wants Claudius to go to hell, he waits. A few
moments later, after Hamlet leaves the stage, Claudius reveals that he doesn't really mean his prayers ("words
without thoughts never to heaven go"), so Hamlet should have killed him after all.
The way to remember the name is that it's for an ironic situation.


Stylistic device

Dramatic irony
Dramatic Irony is when the reader knows something important about the story that one or more characters in the
story do not know. For example, in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the drama of Act V comes from the fact that the
audience knows Juliet is alive, but Romeo thinks she's dead. If the audience had thought, like Romeo, that she was
dead, the scene would not have had anywhere near the same power.
Likewise, in Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," the energy at the end of the story comes from the fact that we know the
narrator killed the old man, while the guests are oblivious. If we were as oblivious as the guests, there would be
virtually no point to the story.
The way to remember the name is that dramatic irony adds to the drama of the story.
See Irony for a more detailed discussion, and definitions of other forms of Irony.

Diction is the choice of specific words to communicate not only meaning, but emotion as well. Authors writing their
texts consider not only a word's denotation, but also its connotation. For example, a person may be described as
stubborn or tenacious, both of which have the same basic meaning, but are opposite in terms of their emotional
background (the first is an insult, while the second is a compliment). Similarly, a bargain-seeker may be described as
either thrifty (compliment) or stingy (insult). An author's diction is extremely important in discovering the narrator's
tone, or attitude.

Sentences can be long or short, written in the active voice or passive voice, composed as simple, compound,
complex, or compound-complex. They may also include such techniques as inversion or such structures as
appositive phrases, verbal phrases (gerund, participle, and infinitive), and subordinate clauses (noun, adjective, and
adverb). These tools can be highly effective in achieving an author's purpose. Example: The ghetto was ruled by
neither German nor Jew; it was ruled by delusion. (from Night, by Elie Wiesel) --In this sentence, Wiesel uses two
parallel independent clauses written in the passive voice. The first clause establishes suspense about who actually
rules the ghetto, and then the first few words of the second clause set up the reader with the expectation of an
answer, which is metaphorically revealed only in the final word of the sentence.

In grammar there are two voices: active and passive. These terms can be applied to whole sentences or to verbs.
Verbs also have tense, aspect and mode. There are three tenses: past, present and future. There are two main aspects:
perfect and progressive. Some grammarians refer to aspects as tenses, but this is not strictly correct, as the perfect
and progressive aspects convey information other than time. There are many modes (also called moods). Some
important ones are: declarative, affirmative, negative, emphatic, conditional, imperative, interrogative and


Stylistic device

Tone expresses the writer's or speaker's attitude toward the subject, the reader, or herself or himself.[13]

[1] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., "Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound & Sense." Tenth Edition. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. pp. 705.
[2] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 712.
[3] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 712.
[4] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 711.
[5] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 284 and pp. 726.
[6] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 291 and pp. 734.
[7] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 749751.
[8] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 820.
[9] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 820.
[10] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 820.
[11] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 772.
[12] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 334.
[13] Arp, T., & Johnson, G., op. cit. pp. 800.

External links
(French) Lexique des figures de style de l'Office qubcois de la langue franaise (http://www.oqlf.gouv.qc.

Suspension of disbelief
Suspension of disbelief or willing suspension of disbelief is a term coined in 1817 by the poet and aesthetic
philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who suggested that if a writer could infuse a "human interest and a semblance
of truth" into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative.
Suspension of disbelief often applies to fictional works of the action, comedy, fantasy, and horror genres. Cognitive
estrangement in fiction involves using a person's ignorance or lack of knowledge to promote suspension of
The phrase "suspension of disbelief" came to be used more loosely in the later 20th century, often used to imply that
the burden was on the reader, rather than the writer, to achieve it. This might be used to refer to the willingness of
the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the acceptance of those
premises. These fictional premises may also lend to the engagement of the mind and perhaps proposition of thoughts,
ideas, art and theories.
Suspension of disbelief is often an essential element for a magic act or a circus sideshow act. For example, an
audience is not expected to actually believe that a woman is cut in half or transforms into a gorilla in order to enjoy
the performance.

Coleridge's original formulation

Coleridge coined the phrase in his Biographia Literaria, published in 1817, in the context of the creation and reading
of poetry.[1] Chapter XIV describes the preparations with Wordsworth for their revolutionary collaboration Lyrical
Ballads (first edition 1798), for which Coleridge had contributed the more romantic, Gothic pieces including The
Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Poetry and fiction involving the supernatural had gone out of fashion to a large extent
in the 18th century, in part due to the declining belief in witches and other supernatural agents among the educated
classes, who embraced the rational approach to the world offered by the new science. Alexander Pope, notably, felt
the need to explain and justify his use of elemental spirits in The Rape of the Lock, one of the few English poems of


Suspension of disbelief
the century that invoked the supernatural. Coleridge wished to revive the use of fantastic elements in poetry. The
concept of "willing suspension of disbelief" explained how a modern, enlightened audience might continue to enjoy
such types of story.
Coleridge recalled:
... It was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least
romantic, yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to
procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which
constitutes poetic faith. Mr. Wordsworth on the other hand was to propose to himself as his object, to give the
charm of novelty to things of every day, and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural, by awakening
the mind's attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the
world before us ...[2]
The notion of such an action by an audience was however recognized in antiquity, as seen particularly in the Roman
theoretical concerns of Horace, who also lived in an age of increasing skepticism about the supernatural, in his Ars

Examples in literature
Suspension of disbelief is sometimes said to be an essential component of live theater, where it was recognized by
Shakespeare, who refers to it in the Prologue to Henry V:
"[...] make imaginary puissant [...] 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings [...] turning
accomplishment of many years into an hourglass."
See also dramatic convention.

In popular culture
According to the theory, suspension of disbelief is an essential ingredient for any kind of storytelling. With any film,
the viewer has to ignore the reality that they are viewing a two-dimensional moving image on a screen and
temporarily accept it as reality in order to be entertained. Black-and-white films provide an obvious early example
that audiences are willing to suspend disbelief, no matter how unreal the images appear, for the sake of
entertainment. With the exception of totally color blind people (See: Achromatopsia), no person viewing these films
sees the real world without color, but they are still willing to suspend disbelief and accept the images in order to be
Suspension of disbelief is also supposed to be essential for the enjoyment of many movies and TV shows involving
complex stunts, special effects, and seemingly unrealistic plots, characterizations, etc. The theory professes to
explain why a subset of action movie fans are willing to accept the idea that, for example: The good guy can get
away with shooting guns in public places (without getting in trouble with the local law-enforcement himself), never
running out of ammunition (Rambo movies), or that cars will explode with a well-placed shot to the gas tank
(numerous action movies use this trope/plot element).
Suspension of disbelief is also needed when a character is not supposed to age over the course of a series (because of
being a vampire or be eternal/immortal because of some quirk/trait/power of the character) but the actor eventually
does as seen in Angel and Highlander. Likewise, the various Terminators played by Arnold Schwarzenegger are
supposed to be standardized units from the same assembly line, but the original cyborg in 1984's The Terminator
looks noticeably younger than the cyborgs with the "same" organic covering that appear in the 1991 and 2003 sequel
In the three CSI series, it is frequently implied that forensic test results are received immediately after said tests are
performed; in reality, it can take several months to get results back, it is inconvenient to the plots to show the
necessary waiting period. To advance the plot, a suspension of disbelief is necessary, and viewers must accept that


Suspension of disbelief
the waiting period has passed or that there is no waiting period to begin with. As well, in real life, crime scene
investigators are not responsible for the wide array of police duties that the show's characters typically carry out
(investigation, arrest, interrogation, etc.); they limit themselves to forensic and lab work; these series would have
audiences believe that crime scene units are solely responsible for entire investigations, including the arrest.
Also another suspension of disbelief is having an episode of a TV show (or a movie) set in a foreign country and
have all the actors portraying citizens of said country speak another language entirely and fluently (example: a
setting in Germany during the Third Reich where people dressed as German citizens and German officers speak
fluent English).
All sorts of story-telling involving puppets or cartoon characters demand suspension of disbelief on the part of the
audience, since it is obvious that the "people" seen are not real living persons. On the Muppet Show, the rods
controlling Kermit's arms are clearly visible, but the audience is expected to ignore them.

Animations and comics

One contemporary example of suspension of disbelief is the audience's acceptance that Superman hides his identity
from the world by simply donning a pair of glasses, conservative clothing, and acting in a "mild-mannered" fashion.
Not only is the disguise so thin as to be ridiculous, but also in the TV series, Adventures of Superman, this absurdity
was carried to an extreme. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen constantly suspected Clark Kent of being Superman, yet
when obvious evidence was right in their faces such as times when Clark was missing his glasses they never saw
the resemblance. (Noel Neill and Jack Larson, in DVD commentary, said their standard answer when questioned
about this was, "We wanted to keep our jobs!")
Some find it strange that while some audience members took issue with the flimsiness of Superman's disguise, they
didn't take issue with the idea of the existence of a superbeing whose only weakness was kryptonite. One arguing
from the theory of suspension of disbelief would contend that while Superman's abilities and vulnerabilities are the
foundational premises the audience accepted as their part of the initial deal; they did not accept a persistent inability
for otherwise normal characters to recognize a close colleague solely because of minor changes in clothing.
Gary Larson discussed the question with regard to his comic strip, The Far Side; he noted that readers wrote him to
complain that a male mosquito referred to his job sucking blood when it is in fact the females that drain blood, but
that the same readers accepted that the mosquitoes live in houses, wear clothes, and speak English.

Video games
Video games are also said to require suspension of disbelief. Often realism is compromised even in games that set
out to be realistic, either intentionally to not overly complicate game mechanics or due to technical limitations.
Some games based on Spider-Man have the comic hero swinging around a city with his webs sticking to nothing but
the sky. Many sandbox games enable the player to control a character continuously who is not required to, for
instance, eat, drink, use toilets, or sleep. A character may be able to drive a vehicle continuously without ever
needing to refuel, or be able to sustain inexplicably high levels of injury and recover without even medical attention.
Fighting games often feature magical elements, such as characters who can throw fireballs, which has become a
staple of traditional fighting games.
Other video games feature instant death upon falling into water instead of giving the player a chance to swim out
before drowning (such as a few episodes of Grand Theft Auto and many others). In contrast, some games show
falling into water as completely safe when in reality the impact would be lethal (most notably in Banjo-Kazooie).
Also, in many video games (particularly RPGs), a character will say the same phrase over and over indefinitely when
repeatedly talked to. Some video games begin with a tutorial in which the player is taught how to play. These are
often woven into the story, for example a character in the game might say to the player, "Press the triangle button to
jump! Walk up to a crystal to save your game! Don't forget to use the 'select' button to change your weapons!" and so


Suspension of disbelief
forth. In the fictional context of the game world, such sequences make no sense. A humorous poke at this
character-given tutorial is present in Super Paper Mario, where the character Bestovius refers to a 'greater being' (the
player) who will understand the tutorial being given.
The Metal Gear series is famous for its suspension of disbelief, partially due to its postmodern style that emerged
with the release of Metal Gear Solid in 1998, sealing itself with Metal Gear Solid 2 in 2001. The games use an
assortment of humour; breaking the fourth wall; speculative fiction; and extraordinary and unusual events, many of
which go unexplained and unquestioned by the characters. These are done for both the purpose of innovative
gameplay as well imaginative characters and story, unrestricted by science and logic.
A commonly seen example throughout the series is the example of the radio support team, who will give control and
interface instructions through conversation with the player character. For this reason, the radio support team, who are
all legitimate characters, work also as gameplay advisors seemingly aware that they're inside a video game. This
helps with the suspension of disbelief as the game is no longer restricted by the attempt of the author to simulate

Examples in politics
It was used by Hillary Clinton during the United States' 2008 presidential election preliminaries. Clinton apparently
considered General Petraeus' reports on Iraq to be unbelievable or not factual, and used the phrase "suspension of
disbelief" loosely, in this case, implying such to be a requirement to accept his statements.

Psychology of Suspension of Disbelief

Psychological critic Norman Holland points to a neuroscientific explanation. When we hear or watch any narrative,
our brains go wholly into perceiving mode. They turn off our systems for acting or planning to act. With them go our
systems for assessing reality. We believe. We have, in Coleridge's second, more accurate phrase, poetic faith.
Thats why humans have such trouble recognizing lies. We first believe, then have to make a conscious effort to
Only when we stop perceiving to think about what we have seen or heard, only then do we assess its truth-value.
Watching a movie or reading a story, if we are really into the fiction, transported, in the psychologists' term, we
are, as Immanuel Kant pointed out long ago, disinterested. We respond aesthetically, without purpose. We just
enjoy. We dont judge the truth of what were perceiving, even though, if we stop being transported and think about
it, we know quite well its a fiction.
Suspension of disbelief has also been used within a mental health context by Frank DeFulgentis in his book Flux. It
is an attempt to describe the phenomenon of forgetting irrational thoughts associated with cases of OCD. In the
book, the author suggests 'suspending disbelief' as opposed to forcing ourselves to forget; similar to how one would
put a virus in quarantine. We can thereby allow ourselves to be absorbed in the activities around us until these
irrationalities vanish on their own accord.


Suspension of disbelief

As in the examples of Superman's powers and Gary Larson's cartoon, it is unclear that suspension of disbelief
correctly describes an audience's perception of art. If the theory were to be true, the individual events of suspension
would appear to be highly selective. (It would appear that one chooses to suspend disbelief for the ability to fly, but
not to suspend it for myopic co-workers.)
Aesthetic philosophers generally reject claims that suspension of disbelief accurately characterizes the relationship
between people and "fictions." Kendall Walton notes that, if viewers were to truly suspend disbelief at a horror
movie and accept its images as true, they would have a true-to-life set of reactions. For instance, audience members
would cry out, "Look behind you!" to an endangered on-screen character or call the police when they witnessed an
on-screen murder.[3]
However, many of these criticisms simply fail to notice that Coleridge's original statement came in a restrictive
clause. The formulation "...that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith," of
necessity implies that there are different sorts of suspension of disbelief and specifies that poetic faith is one instance
of a larger class. One need not choose to believe that a character in a horror film is a real person in order, for
example, to choose to believe that the character is looking at the building seen in the following reverse-shot. More
often than not, both beliefs would be equally false.
Not all authors believe that suspension of the disbelief adequately characterizes the audience's relationship to
imaginative works of art. J. R. R. Tolkien challenges this concept in his essay "On Fairy-Stories", choosing instead
the paradigm of secondary belief based on inner consistency of reality. Tolkien says that, in order for the narrative to
work, the reader must believe that what he reads is true within the secondary reality of the fictional world. By
focusing on creating an internally consistent fictional world, the author makes secondary belief possible. Tolkien
argues that suspension of disbelief is only necessary when the work has failed to create secondary belief. From that
point the spell is broken, and the reader ceases to be immersed in the story and must make a conscious effort to
suspend disbelief or else give up on it entirely.

[1] Safire, William. On Language; Suspension of Disbelief. New York Times. 7 October 2007.
[2] Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, 1817, Chapter XIV
[3] " Fearing Fictions (http:/ / links. jstor. org/ sici?sici=0022-362X(197801)75:1<5:FF>2. 0. CO;2-Z)", Kendall L. Walton, JSTOR (The Journal
of Philosophy, Vol. 75, No. 1 (01-1978), pp. 527). Retrieved 3 January 2007.

External links
Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, Chapter XIV, containing the term (


Symbolism (arts)


Symbolism (arts)
nineteenth-century art movement of
French, Russian and Belgian origin in
poetry and other arts. In literature, the
style had its beginnings with the
publication Les Fleurs du mal (The
Flowers of Evil, 1857) by Charles
Baudelaire. The works of Edgar Allan
Poe, which Baudelaire admired greatly
and translated into French, were a
significant influence and the source of
many stock tropes and images. The
aesthetic was developed by Stphane
Mallarm and Paul Verlaine during the
1860s and '70s. In the 1880s, the
aesthetic was articulated by a series of
manifestos and attracted a generation
of writers. The name "symbolist" itself
was first applied by the critic Jean
Moras, who invented the term to
distinguish the symbolists from the
related decadents of literature and of

La mort du fossoyeur ("The death of the

gravedigger") by Carlos Schwabe is a visual
compendium of symbolist motifs. Death and
angels, pristine snow, and the dramatic poses of
the characters all express symbolist longings for
transfiguration "anywhere, out of the world."

Distinct from, but related to, the style

of literature, symbolism of art is
related to the gothic component of
Fernand Khnopff's The Caress

Symbolism (arts)


The term "symbolism" is derived from the
word "symbol" which derives from the Latin
symbolum, a symbol of faith, and symbolus,
a sign of recognition, in turn from classical
Greek symbolon, an object cut in
half constituting a sign of recognition when
the carriers were able to reassemble the two
halves. In ancient Greece, the symbolon,
was a shard of pottery which was inscribed
and then broken into two pieces which were
given to the ambassadors from two allied
city states as a record of the alliance.

Precursors and origins

Mikhail Nesterov's The Vision of the Youth Bartholomew.

Symbolism was largely a reaction against

naturalism and realism, anti-idealistic styles which were attempts to represent reality in its gritty particularity, and to
elevate the humble and the ordinary over the ideal. Symbolism was a reaction in favour of spirituality, the
imagination, and dreams.[1] Some writers, such as Joris-Karl Huysmans, began as naturalists before becoming
symbolists; for Huysmans, this change represented his increasing interest in religion and spirituality. Certain of the
characteristic subjects of the decadents represent naturalist interest in sexuality and taboo topics, but in their case this
was mixed with Byronic romanticism and the world-weariness characteristic of the fin de sicle period.
The symbolist poets have a more complex relationship with Parnassianism, a French literary style that immediately
preceded it. While being influenced by hermeticism, allowing freer versification, and rejecting Parnassian clarity and
objectivity, it retained Parnassianism's love of word play and concern for the musical qualities of verse. The
symbolists continued to admire Thophile Gautier's motto of "art for art's sake", and retained and modified
Parnassianism's mood of ironic detachment.[2] Many symbolist poets, including Stphane Mallarm and Paul
Verlaine, published early works in Le Parnasse contemporain, the poetry anthologies that gave Parnassianism its
name. But Arthur Rimbaud publicly mocked prominent Parnassians, and published scatological parodies of some of
their main authors, including Franois Coppe misattributed to Coppe himself in L'Album zutique.[3]
One of Symbolism's most colourful promoters in Paris was art and literary critic (and occultist) Josphin Pladan,
who established the Salon de la Rose + Croix. The Salon hosted a series of six presentations of avant-garde art,
writing and music during the 1890s, to give a presentation space for artists embracing spiritualism, mysticism, and
idealism in their work. A number of Symbolists were associated with the Salon.

Symbolism (arts)


The Symbolist Manifesto
Symbolists believed that art should represent absolute truths that could
only be described indirectly. Thus, they wrote in a very metaphorical
and suggestive manner, endowing particular images or objects with
symbolic meaning. Jean Moras published the Symbolist Manifesto
("Le Symbolisme") in Le Figaro on 18 September 1886 (see 1886 in
poetry). Moras announced that symbolism was hostile to "plain
meanings, declamations, false sentimentality and matter-of-fact
description", and that its goal instead was to "clothe the Ideal in a
perceptible form" whose "goal was not in itself, but whose sole
purpose was to express the Ideal"
Ainsi, dans cet art, les tableaux de la nature, les actions des
humains, tous les phnomnes concrets ne sauraient se
manifester eux-mmes ; ce sont l des apparences sensibles
destines reprsenter leurs affinits sotriques avec des Ides

Alexandre Benois's illustration to The Bronze


(In this art, scenes from nature, human activities, and all other real world phenomena will not be
described for their own sake; here, they are perceptible surfaces created to represent their esoteric
affinities with the primordial Ideals.)[4]
In a nutshell, 'to depict not the thing but the effect it produces'.[5]

The symbolist poets wished to liberate techniques of versification in
order to allow greater room for "fluidity", and as such were
sympathetic with the trend toward free verse, as evident by the poems
of Gustave Kahn and Ezra Pound. Symbolist poems were attempts to
evoke, rather than primarily to describe; symbolic imagery was used to
signify the state of the poet's soul. T. S. Eliot was influenced by the
poets Jules Laforgue, Paul Valry and Arthur Rimbaud who used the
Sirin and Alkonost by Viktor Vasnetsov
techniques of the Symbolist school,[6] though it has also been
saidWikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch#Unsupported
attributions that 'Imagism' was the style to which both Pound and Eliot subscribed (see Pound's Des Imagistes).
Synesthesia was a prized experience; poets sought to identify and confound the separate senses of scent, sound, and
colour. In Baudelaire's poem Correspondences, (considered to be the touchstone of French Symbolism [7]) also
mentions forts de symboles forests of symbols
Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,
Ayant l'expansion des choses infinies,
Comme l'ambre, le musc, le benjoin et l'encens,
Qui chantent les transports de l'esprit et des sens.

Symbolism (arts)

(There are perfumes that are fresh like children's flesh,
sweet like oboes, green like meadows
And others, corrupt, rich, and triumphant,
having the expansiveness of infinite things,
like amber, musc, benzoin, and incense,
which sing of the raptures of the soul and senses.)

and Rimbaud's poem Voyelles:

A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu : voyelles. . .
(A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels. . .)
both poets seek to identify one sense experience with another. The earlier Romanticism of poetry used symbols,
but these symbols were unique and privileged objects. The symbolists were more extreme, investing all things, even
vowels and perfumes, with potential symbolic value. "The physical universe, then, is a kind of language that invites a
privileged spectator to decipher it, although this does not yield a single message so much as a superior network of
associations."[8] Symbolist symbols are not allegories, intended to represent; they are instead intended to evoke
particular states of mind. The nominal subject of Mallarm's "Le cygne" ("The Swan") is of a swan trapped in a
frozen lake. Significantly, in French, cygne is a homophone of signe, a sign. The overall effect is of overwhelming
whiteness; and the presentation of the narrative elements of the description is quite indirect:
Le vierge, le vivace, et le bel aujourd'hui
Va-t-il nous dchirer avec un coup daile ivre
Ce lac dur oubli que hante sous le givre
Le transparent glacier des vols qui nont pas fui!
Un cygne dautrefois se souvient que cest lui
Magnifique mais qui sans espoir se dlivre...
("The virgin, lively, and beautiful today will it tear for us this hard forgotten lake that lurks beneath
the frost, the transparent glacier of flights not taken with a blow from a drunken wing? A swan of long
ago remembers that it is he, magnificent but without hope, who breaks free..."[9])

Paul Verlaine and the potes maudits

Of the several attempts at defining the essence of symbolism, perhaps none was more influential than Paul Verlaine's
1884 publication of a series of essays on Tristan Corbire, Arthur Rimbaud, Stphane Mallarm, Marceline
Desbordes-Valmore, Grard de Nerval, and "Pauvre Lelian" ("Poor Lelian", an anagram of Paul Verlaine's own
name), each of whom Verlaine numbered among the potes maudits, "accursed poets."
Verlaine argued that in their individual and very different ways, each of these hitherto neglected poets found genius a
curse; it isolated them from their contemporaries, and as a result these poets were not at all concerned to avoid
hermeticism and idiosyncratic writing styles.[10] They were also portrayed as at odds with society, having tragic
lives, and often given to self-destructive tendencies. These traits were not hindrances but consequences of their
literary gifts. Verlaine's concept of the pote maudit in turn borrows from Baudelaire, who opened his collection Les
fleurs du mal with the poem Bndiction, which describes a poet whose internal serenity remains undisturbed by the
contempt of the people surrounding him.[11]
In this conception of genius and the role of the poet, Verlaine referred indirectly to the aesthetics of Arthur
Schopenhauer, the philosopher of pessimism, who maintained that the purpose of art was to provide a temporary
refuge from the world of strife of the will.[12]

Symbolism (arts)


Schopenhauer's aesthetics represented shared concerns with the symbolist programme; they both tended to consider
Art as a contemplative refuge from the world of strife and will. As a result of this desire for an artistic refuge, the
symbolists used characteristic themes of mysticism and otherworldliness, a keen sense of mortality, and a sense of
the malign power of sexuality, which Albert Samain termed a "fruit of death upon the tree of life."[13] Mallarm's
poem Les fentres[14] expresses all of these themes clearly. A dying man in a hospital bed, seeking escape from the
pain and dreariness of his physical surroundings, turns toward his window but then turns away in disgust from
. . . l'homme l'me dure
Vautr dans le bonheur, o ses seuls apptits
Mangent, et qui s'entte chercher cette ordure
Pour l'offrir la femme allaitant ses petits,
". . . the hard-souled man,
Wallowing in happiness, where only his appetites
Feed, and who insists on seeking out this filth
To offer to the wife suckling his children,"
and in contrast, he "turns his back on life" (tourne lpaule la vie) and he
Je me mire et me vois ange! Et je meurs, et j'aime
Que la vitre soit l'art, soit la mysticit
A renatre, portant mon rve en diadme,
Au ciel antrieur o fleurit la Beaut!

Pornocrates, by Flicien Rops.

Etching and aquatint

"I marvel at myself, I seem an angel! and I die, and I love

Whether the glass might be art, or mysticism
To be reborn, bearing my dream as a diadem,
Under that former sky where Beauty once flourished!"

Symbolists and decadents

The symbolist style has frequently been confused with decadence. Several young writers were derisively referred
toWikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch#Unsupported attributions by the press as "decadent" during the
mid-1880s. A few of these writers embraced the term while most avoided it.
Jean Moras' manifesto was largely a response to this polemic. By the late 1880s, the terms "symbolism" and
"decadence" were understood to be almost synonymous.[15] Though the aesthetics of the styles can be considered
similar in some ways, the two remain distinct. The symbolists were those artists who emphasized dreams and ideals;
the Decadents cultivated prcieux, ornamented, or hermetic styles, and morbid subject matters.[16] The subject of the
decadence of the Roman Empire was a frequent source of literary images and appears in the works of many poets of
the period, regardless of which name they chose for their style, as in Verlaine's "Langueur":[17]
Je suis l'Empire la fin de la Dcadence,
Qui regarde passer les grands Barbares blancs
En composant des acrostiches indolents
D'un style d'or o la langueur du soleil danse.
("I am the Empire at the end of the decadence, who watches the large, white barbarians passing, while
composing lazy acrostic poems in a gilded style in which the languor of the sun dances.")

Symbolism (arts)


Periodical literature
A number of important literary publications were founded by symbolists or
became associated with the style. The first was La Vogue initiated in April 1886.
In October of that same year, Jean Moras, Gustave Kahn, and Paul Adam began
the periodical Le Symboliste. One of the most important symbolist journals was
Mercure de France, edited by Alfred Vallette, which succeeded La Pliade;
founded in 1890, this periodical endured until 1965. Pierre Lous initiated La
conque, a periodical whose symbolist influences were alluded to by Jorge Luis
Borges in his story Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote. Other symbolist
literary magazines included La Revue blanche, La Revue wagnrienne, La Plume
and La Wallonie.
Rmy de Gourmont and Flix Fnon were literary critics associated with
symbolism. The symbolist and decadent literary styles were satirized by a book
of poetry, Les Dliquescences d'Ador Floupette, published in 1885 by Henri
Beauclair and Gabriel Vicaire.[18]

Firebird by Lon Bakst

Russian symbolism
Primary influences on the style of Russian Symbolism were the irrationalistic and mystical poetry and philosophy of
Fyodor Tyutchev and Vladimir Solovyov, the novels of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the operas of Richard Wagner, the
philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, French symbolist and decadent poets (such as Stphane
Mallarm, Paul Verlaine and Charles Baudelaire), and the dramas of Henrik Ibsen.
The style was largely inaugurated by Nikolai Minsky's article The Ancient Debate (1884) and Dmitry
Merezhkovsky's book On the Causes of the Decline and on the New Trends in Contemporary Russian Literature
(1892). Both writers promoted extreme individualism and the act of creation. Merezhkovsky was known for his
poetry as well as a series of novels on god-men, among whom he counted Christ, Joan of Arc, Dante, Leonardo da
Vinci, Napoleon, and (later) Hitler. His wife, Zinaida Gippius, also a major poet of early symbolism, opened a salon
in St Petersburg, which came to be known as the "headquarters of Russian decadence."

Symbolism (arts)


In other media
Visual arts
Symbolism in literature is distinct from symbolism in art although the two were similar in many respects. In
painting, symbolism can be seen as a revival of some mystical tendencies in the Romantic tradition, and was close to
the self-consciously morbid and private decadent movement.
There were several rather dissimilar groups of Symbolist painters and visual
artists, which included Gustave Moreau, Gustav Klimt, Mikalojus Konstantinas
iurlionis, Odilon Redon, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Henri Fantin-Latour,
Gaston Bussire, Edvard Munch, Flicien Rops, and Jan Toorop. Symbolism in
painting was even more widespread geographically than symbolism in poetry,
affecting Mikhail Vrubel, Nicholas Roerich, Victor Borisov-Musatov, Martiros
Saryan, Mikhail Nesterov, Lon Bakst, Elena Gorokhova in Russia, as well as
Frida Kahlo in Mexico, Elihu Vedder, Remedios Varo, Morris Graves and David
Chetlahe Paladin in the United States. Auguste Rodin is sometimes considered a
symbolist sculptor.
The symbolist painters used mythological and dream imagery. The symbols used
by symbolism are not the familiar emblems of mainstream iconography but
intensely personal, private, obscure and ambiguous references. More a
philosophy than an actual style of art, symbolism in painting influenced the
contemporary Art Nouveau style and Les Nabis.

Sonata of the Sea. Finale (1908) by

Lithuanian painter Mikalojus
Konstantinas iurlionis

Symbolism had some influence on music as well. Many symbolist writers and critics were early enthusiasts of the
music of Richard Wagner, a fellow student of Schopenhauer.
The symbolist aesthetic affected the works of Claude Debussy. His choices of libretti, texts, and themes come almost
exclusively from the symbolist canon. Compositions such as his settings of Cinq pomes de Baudelaire, various art
songs on poems by Verlaine, the opera Pellas et Mlisande with a libretto by Maurice Maeterlinck, and his
unfinished sketches that illustrate two Poe stories, The Devil in the Belfry and The Fall of the House of Usher, all
indicate that Debussy was profoundly influenced by symbolist themes and tastes. His best known work, the Prlude
l'aprs-midi d'un faune, was inspired by Mallarm's poem, L'aprs-midi d'un faune.
The symbolist aesthetic also influenced Aleksandr Scriabin's compositions. Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire
takes its text from German translations of the symbolist poems by Albert Giraud, showing an association between
German expressionism and symbolism. Richard Strauss's 1905 opera Salom, based on the play by Oscar Wilde,
uses a subject frequently depicted by symbolist artists.

Symbolism (arts)


Prose fiction
Symbolism's style of the static and hieratic adapted less well to narrative fiction than it did to poetry. Joris-Karl
Huysmans' 1884 novel rebours (English title: Against Nature) explored many themes that became associated with
the symbolist aesthetic. This novel, in which very little happens, catalogues the psychology of Des Esseintes, an
eccentric, reclusive antihero. Oscar Wilde imitated the novel in several passages of The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Paul Adam was the most prolific and most representative author of symbolist novels. Les Demoiselles Goubert
(1886), co-written with Jean Moras, is an important transitional work between naturalism and symbolism. Few
symbolists used this form. One exception was Gustave Kahn, who published Le Roi fou in 1896. In 1892, Georges
Rodenbach wrote the short novel Bruges-la-morte, set in the Flemish town of Bruges, which Rodenbach described as
a dying, medieval city of mourning and quiet contemplation: in a typically symbolist juxtaposition, the dead city
contrasts with the diabolical re-awakening of sexual desire.[19] The cynical, misanthropic, misogynistic fiction of
Jules Barbey d'Aurevilly is sometimes considered symbolist, as well. Gabriele d'Annunzio wrote his first novels in
the symbolist manner.

The characteristic emphasis on an internal life of dreams and fantasies
have made symbolist theatre difficult to reconcile with more recent
trends. Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam's drama Axl (rev. ed. 1890) is
a definitive symbolist play. In it, two Rosicrucian aristocrats become
enamored of each other while trying to kill each other, only to agree to
commit suicide mutually because nothing in life could equal their
fantasies. From this play, Edmund Wilson adopted the title Axel's
Castle for his influential study of the symbolist literary aftermath.
Maurice Maeterlinck, also a symbolist playwright, wrote The Blind
(1890), The Intruder (1890), Interior (1891), Pellas and Mlisande
(1892), and The Blue Bird (1908).

Alexandre Benois' set for Stravinsky's Petrushka

in 1911

Lugn-Poe (18691940) was an actor, director, and theatre producer of the late nineteenth century. Lugn-Poe
"sought to create a unified nonrealistic theatre of poetry and dreams through atmospheric staging and stylized
acting". Upon learning about symbolist theatre, he never wanted to practice any other form. After beginning as an
actor in the Thtre Libre and Thtre d'Art, Lugn-Poe grasped on to the symbolist movement and founded the
Thtre de l'uvre where he was manager from 1892 until 1929. Some of his greatest successes include opening his
own symbolist theatre, producing the first staging of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi (1896), and introducing French
theatregoers to playwrights such as Ibsen and Strindberg.
The later works of the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov have been identifiedWikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to
watch#Unsupported attributions as being much influenced by symbolist pessimism. Both Constantin Stanislavski
and Vsevolod Meyerhold experimented with symbolist modes of staging in their theatrical endeavors.
Drama by symbolist authors formed an important part of the repertoire of the Thtre de l'uvre and the Thtre

Symbolism (arts)


Among English-speaking artists, the closest counterpart to symbolism was
aestheticism. The pre-Raphaelites were contemporaries of the earlier symbolists,
and have much in common with them. Symbolism had a significant influence on
modernism, (Remy de Gourmont considered the Imagists were its
descendandants)[20] and its traces can also be detected in the work of many
modernist poets, including T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, Conrad Aiken, Hart
Crane, and W. B. Yeats in the anglophone tradition and Rubn Daro in Hispanic
literature. The early poems of Guillaume Apollinaire have strong affinities with
Edmund Wilson's 1931 study Axel's Castle focuses on the continuity with
symbolism and several important writers of the early twentieth century, with a
particular emphasis on Yeats, Eliot, Paul Valry, Marcel Proust, James Joyce,
and Gertrude Stein. Wilson concluded that the symbolists represented a dreaming
retreat into
things that are dyingthe whole belle-lettristic tradition of
Renaissance culture perhaps, compelled to specialize more and
more, more and more driven in on itself, as industrialism and
democratic education have come to press it closer and closer.[21]

The cover to Aleksander Blok's 1909

book, Theatre. Konstantin Somov's
illustrations for the Russian
symbolist poet display the continuity
between symbolism and Art
Nouveau artists such as Aubrey

After the beginning of the 20th century, symbolism had a major effect on Russian poetry even as it became less
popular in France. Russian symbolism, steeped in the Eastern Orthodoxy and the religious doctrines of Vladimir
Solovyov, had little in common with the French style of the same name. It began the careers of several major poets
such as Alexander Blok, Andrei Bely, and Marina Tsvetaeva. Bely's novel Petersburg (1912) is considered the
greatest example of Russian symbolist prose.
In Romania, symbolists directly influenced by French poetry first gained influence during the 1880s, when
Alexandru Macedonski reunited a group of young poets associated with his magazine Literatorul. Polemicizing with
the established Junimea and overshadowed by the influence of Mihai Eminescu, Romanian symbolism was
recovered as an inspiration during and after the 1910s, when it was exampled by the works of Tudor Arghezi, Ion
Minulescu, George Bacovia, Mateiu Caragiale, Tristan Tzara and Tudor Vianu, and praised by the modernist
magazine Sburtorul.
The symbolist painters were an important influence on expressionism and surrealism in painting, two movements
which descend directly from symbolism proper. The harlequins, paupers, and clowns of Pablo Picasso's "Blue
Period" show the influence of symbolism, and especially of Puvis de Chavannes. In Belgium, symbolism became so
popular that it came to be thought ofWikipedia:Manual of Style/Words to watch#Unsupported attributions as a
national style: the static strangeness of painters like Ren Magritte can be considered as a direct continuation of
symbolism. The work of some symbolist visual artists, such as Jan Toorop, directly affected the curvilinear forms of
art nouveau.
Many early motion pictures also employ symbolist visual imagery and themes in their staging, set designs, and
imagery. The films of German expressionism owe a great deal to symbolist imagery. The virginal "good girls" seen
in the cinema of D. W. Griffith, and the silent film "bad girls" portrayed by Theda Bara, both show the continuing
influence of symbolism, as do the Babylonian scenes from Griffith's Intolerance. Symbolist imagery lived on longest
in horror film: as late as 1932, Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr showed the obvious influence of symbolist imagery;
parts of the film resemble tableau vivant re-creations of the early paintings of Edvard Munch.[22]

Symbolism (arts)


William Blake (17571827) English writer (Songs of Innocence)
Caspar David Friedrich (17741840) German painter (Wanderer
above the Sea of Fog)
Alexander Pushkin (17991837) Russian poet and writer (Eugene
ore Markovi Koder (1806-1891) Serbian poet (Romoranka)
Grard de Nerval (180855) French poet
Edgar Allan Poe (180949) American poet and writer (The
Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket)

Hugo Simberg's The Wounded Angel

Mikhail Lermontov (18141841) Russian poet and writer (A Hero of Our Time)
Charles Baudelaire (182167) French poet (Les Fleurs du mal)
Gustave Flaubert (18211880) French writer (Madame Bovary)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (182882) English poet and painter (Beata Beatrix)
Christina Rossetti (18301894) English poet

(listed by year of birth)



Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam

Stphane Mallarm (184298)
Paul Verlaine (184496)
Arthur Rimbaud (185491)
Albert Samain (18581900)
Rmy de Gourmont (18581915)
Gustave Kahn (18591936)
Jules Laforgue (186087)
Rachilde (18601953)
Paul Adam (18621920)
Francis Viel-Griffin (18631937)
Henri de Rgnier (18641936)
Albert Aurier (18651892)
Marcel Schwob (18671905)
Paul Valry (18711945)
Paul Fort (18721960)
Alfred Jarry (18731907)


Grigol Robakidze (1880-1962)

Valerian Gaprindashvili (1888-1941)
Sergo Kldiashvili (1893-1986)
Paolo Iashvili (1894-1937)
Sandro Tsirekidze (18941923)
Kolau Nadiradze (1895-1991)
Titsian Tabidze (1895-1937)
Giorgi Leonidze (1899-1966)

Emile Verhaeren (18551916)

Georges Rodenbach (185598)
Albert Giraud (18601929)
Maurice Maeterlinck (18621949)
Lon Frdric (1865-1940)
Albert Mockel (18661945)


Levon Shant (18691951)

Siamanto (18781915)
Daniel Varujan (18841915)
Gostan Zarian ( 18851969)
Misak Metsarents (18861908)


Aleksa anti (1868-1924)

Jovan Dui (1871-1943)
Svetozar orovi (1875-1919)
Milan Raki (1876-1938)
Borisav Stankovi (1876-1927)
Jovan Skerli (1877-1914)
Isidora Sekuli (1877-1958)
Petar Koi (1877-1916)
Vladislav Petkovi Dis
Sima Pandurovi (1883-1960)
Veljko Petrovi (poet)

Antoni Lange (18611929) Polish

Tadeusz Miciski (18731918) Polish
Stanisaw Korab-Brzozowski (18761901) Polish
Jean Moras (18561910) Greek
Joo da Cruz e Sousa (18611898) Brazilian
Stuart Merrill (18631915) American
Camilo Pessanha (18671926) Portuguese
Otokar Bezina (18681929) Czech
Jurgis Baltruaitis (18731944) Lithuanian
Mikalojus Konstantinas iurlionis (18751911)
Ivan Krasko (1876-1958) Slovak
Rene Vivien (18771909) English
Josip Murn Aleksandrov (18791901) Slovene
mile Nelligan (18791941) Canadian
Ady Endre (18771919) Hungarian
George Bacovia (18811957) Romanian
Mateiu Caragiale (18851936) Romanian
Dimcho Debelyanov (18871916) Bulgarian

Symbolism (arts)



Innokenty Annensky (18551909)

Fyodor Sologub (18631927)
Dmitry Merezhkovsky (18651941)
Vyacheslav Ivanov (18661949)
Konstantin Balmont (18671942)
Zinaida Gippius (18691945)
Valery Bryusov (18731924)
Maximilian Voloshin (18771932)
Alexander Blok (18801921)
Andrei Bely (18801934)

Influence in English literature

English language authors who influenced or were influenced by symbolism include:

George MacDonald (18241905)

Olive Custance (18741944)

Algernon Charles Swinburne (18371909)

Wallace Stevens (18791955)

Oscar Wilde (18541900)

James Elroy Flecker (18841915)

Francis Thompson (18591907)

Edith Sitwell (18871964)

Rosamund Marriott Watson (18601911)

T. S. Eliot (18881965)

W. B. Yeats (18651939)

Conrad Aiken (18891973)

Arthur Symons (18651945)

Clark Ashton Smith (18931961)

John Gray (18661934)

Hart Crane (18991932)

Ernest Dowson (18671900)

Katherine Mansfield (18881923)

George Sterling (18691926)

Symbolist visual artists

See also: Category:Symbolist painters and Category:Symbolist sculptors


Viktor Vasnetsov (18481926)

Mikhail Vrubel (18561910)
Mikhail Nesterov (18621942)
Lon Bakst (18661924)
Wassily Kandinsky (early works) (18661944)
Konstantin Somov (18691939)
Alexandre Benois (18701960)
Victor Borisov-Musatov (18701905)
Konstantin Bogaevsky (18721943)
Nicholas Roerich (18741947)
Ivan Bilibin (18761942)


Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (18241898)

Gustave Moreau (18261898)
Henri Fantin-Latour (18361904)
Odilon Redon (18401916)
Paul Gauguin (18481903)
Gaston Bussire (painter) (18621929)
Charles Filiger (18631928)
Lucien Lvy-Dhurmer (18651953)
mile Bernard (18681941)

Flicien Rops (18551898)

Fernand Khnopff (18581921)
Jean Delville (18671953)
Lon Spilliaert (18821946)
William Degouve de Nuncques(1867-1935)


George Frederic Watts (18171904) English

John William Waterhouse (18491917) English
Arnold Bcklin (18271901) Swiss
Jan Toorop (18581928) Dutch
Jacek Malczewski (18541929) Polish
Giovanni Segantini (18581899) Italian
Franz Stuck (18631928) German
Ferdinand Hodler (18531918) Swiss
Gustav Klimt (18621918) Austrian
Edvard Munch (18631944) Norwegian
Hugo Simberg (18731917) Finnish
John Duncan (18661945) Scottish
Mikalojus iurlionis (18751911) Lithuanian
Eliseu Visconti (18661944) Brazilian
Felice Casorati (18831963) Italian
Ze'ev Raban (18901970) Polish/Israeli

Symbolism (arts)


Symbolist composers

Gabriel Faur (18451924) French

Charles Loeffler (18611935) American
Claude Debussy (18621918) French
Erik Satie (18661925) French
Mieczysaw Karowicz (1876-1909) Polish

Alexander Scriabin (18721912) Russian

Maurice Ravel (18751937) French
Cyril Scott (18791970) English
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) Polish

Symbolist philosophers

Vladimir Solovyov (18531900) Russian

Vasily Rozanov (18561919) Russian

Sergei Bulgakov (18711944) Russian

Vladimir Beneshevich (18741938) Russian

Pavel Florensky (18821937) Russian


Balakian, Anna, The Symbolist Movement: a critical appraisal. Random House, 1967, ch. 2
Balakian, supra; see also Houston, introduction
L'Album zutique (http:/ / fr. wikisource. org/ wiki/ Album_zutique)
Jean Moreas, Le Manifeste du Symbolisme (http:/ / www. ieeff. org/ manifestesymbolisme. htm), Le Figaro, 1886
Conway Morris, Roderick The Elusive Symbolist movement article - International Herald Tribune, March 17, 2007.
Untermeyer, Louis, Preface to Modern American Poetry Harcourt Brace & Co New York 1950
Pratt, William. The Imagist Poem, Modern Poetry in Miniature (Story Line Press, 1963, expanded 2001). ISBN 1-58654-009-2
Olds, Marshal C. "Literary Symbolism" (http:/ / digitalcommons. unl. edu/ cgi/ viewcontent. cgi?article=1027& context=modlangfrench),
originally published (as Chapter 14) in A Companion to Modernist Literature and Culture, edited by David Bradshaw and Kevin J. H.
Dettmar. Malden, MA : Blackwell Publishing, 2006. Pages 155162.
[9] Translation for Wikipedia
[10] Paul Verlaine, Les Potes maudits (http:/ / fr. wikisource. org/ wiki/ Les_Potes_maudits)
[11] Charles Baudelaire, Bndiction (http:/ / fr. wikisource. org/ wiki/ Bndiction)
[12] Delvaille, Bernard, La posie symboliste: anthologie, introduction. ISBN 2-221-50161-6
[13] Luxure, fruit de mort l'arbre de la vie... , Albert Samain, "Luxure", in the publication Au jardin de l'infante (1889)
[14] Stphane Mallarm, Les fentres (http:/ / cage. ugent. be/ ~dc/ Literature/ Mallarme/ Mal08. html)
[15] David Schimmelpenninck van der Oye, Russian orientalism: Asia in the Russian mind from Peter the Great to the emigration, New Haven:
Yale UP, 2010, p. 211 (http:/ / books. google. com/ books?id=Kk8XrtXe3IcC& pg=PA211& lpg=PA211& dq=decadence+ synonymous+
with+ symbolism& source=bl& ots=_9skPUcj4L& sig=E230EGcDlpVrIyykNuvgc3qF3OE& hl=en& ei=3E61TvjYLOTy0gG7hZSjBA&
sa=X& oi=book_result& ct=result& resnum=4& ved=0CDAQ6AEwAw#v=onepage& q=decadence synonymous with symbolism& f=false)
[16] Olds, above, p. 160
[17] Langueur (http:/ / fr. wikisource. org/ wiki/ Langueur), from Jadis et Nagure, 1884
[18] Henri Beauclair and Gabriel Vicaire, Les Dliquescences d'Ador Floupette (http:/ / www. bmlisieux. com/ archives/ deliqu01. htm) (1885)
Les Dliquescences pomes dcadents d'Ador Floupette, avec sa vie par Marius Tapora by Henri Beauclair and Gabriel Vicaire
[19] Alan Hollinghurst, " Bruges of sighs (http:/ / www. guardian. co. uk/ books/ 2005/ jan/ 29/ featuresreviews. guardianreview30)" (The
Guardian, 29 Jan. 2005, accessed 26 Apr 2009
[20] de Gourmont, Remy. La France (1915)
[21] Quoted in
[22] Jullian, Philippe, The Symbolists. (Dutton, 1977) ISBN 0-7148-1739-2

Symbolism (arts)


Further reading

Balakian, Anna, The Symbolist Movement: a critical appraisal. Random House, 1967
Delvaille, Bernard, La posie symboliste: anthologie. ISBN 2-221-50161-6
Houston, John Porter and Houston, Mona Tobin, French Symbolist Poetry: an anthology. ISBN 0-253-20250-7
Jullian, Philippe, The Symbolists. ISBN 0-7148-1739-2
Lehmann, A.G., The Symbolist Aesthetic in France 18851895. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1950, 1968.
The Oxford Companion to French Literature, Sir Paul Harvey and J. E. Heseltine, eds., (Oxford, 1959) ISBN
Praz, Mario, The Romantic Agony (1930). ISBN 0-19-281061-8
Symons, Arthur, The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1899, rev. 1919)
Wilson, Edmond, Axel's Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 18701930 (
details/axelscastle030404mbp) (Internet Archive). ISBN 978-1-59853-013-1 (Library of America)

External links
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Symbolist paintings.

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Symbolism (arts)

Collection of German Symbolist art (

Les Potes maudits ( by Paul Verlaine (French)
ArtMagick The Symbolist Gallery (
What is Symbolism in Art ( Ten Dreams Galleries extensive
article on Symbolism
Symbolism ( Gustave Moreau, Puvis de
Chavannes, Odilon Redon
Literary Symbolism ( Published in A Companion to
Modernist Literature and Culture (2006)

Tone (literature)


Tone (literature)
Look up tone in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Tone is a literary compound of composition, which encompasses the attitudes toward the subject and toward the
audience implied in a literary work. Tone may be formal, informal, intimate, solemn, somber, playful, serious, ironic,
condescending, or many other possible attitudes. Each piece of literature has at least one theme, or central question
about a topic, and how the theme is approached within the work is known as the tone.

Difference between tone and mood

Tone and mood are not the same, although variations of the two words may on occasions be interchangeable terms.
The mood of a piece of literature is the speaker's or narrator's attitude towards the subject, rather than what the reader
feels, as in tone. Mood is the general feeling or atmosphere that a piece of writing creates within the reader. Mood is
produced most effectively through the use of setting, theme, voice and tone.

All pieces of literature, even official documents and technical documents, have some sort of tone. Authors create
tone through the use of various other literary elements, such as diction or word choice; syntax, the grammatical
arrangement of words in a text for effect; imagery, or vivid appeals to the senses; details, facts that are included or
omitted; and figurative language, the comparison of seemingly unrelated things for sub-textual
purposes.Wikipedia:Please clarify
While now used to discuss literature, the term tone was originally applied solely to music. This appropriated word
has come to represent attitudes and feelings a speaker (in poetry), a narrator (in fiction), or an author (in non-literary
prose) has towards the subject, situation, and/or the intended audience. It is important to recognize that the speaker,
or narrator is not to be confused with the author and that attitudes and feelings of the speaker or narrator should not
be confused with those of the author.Wikipedia:Please clarify In general, the tone of a piece only refers to attitude of
the author if writing is non-literary in nature.Wikipedia:Please clarify[1]
In many cases, the tone of a work may change and shift as the speaker or narrators perspective on a particular
subject alters throughout the piece.
Official and technical documentation tends to employ a formal tone throughout the piece.

Setting tone
Authors set a tone in literature by conveying emotions/feelings through words. The way a person feels about an
idea/concept, event, or another person can be quickly determined through facial expressions, gestures and in the tone
of voice used. In literature an author sets the tone through words. The possible tones are bounded only by the number
of possible emotions a human being can have.
Diction and syntax often dictate what the author's (or character's) attitude toward his subject is at the time. An
example: "Charlie surveyed the classroom but it was really his mother congratulating himself for snatching the
higher test grade, the smug smirk on his face growing brighter and brighter as he confirmed the inferiority of his
The tone here is one of arrogance; the quip "inferiority of his peers" shows Charlie's belief in his own prowess. The
words "surveyed" and "congratulating himself" show Charlie as seeing himself better than the rest of his class. The
diction, including the word "snatching", gives the reader a mental picture of someone quickly and effortlessly

Tone (literature)
grabbing something, which proves once again Charlie's pride in himself. Characteristically, of course, the "smug
smirk" provides a facial imagery of Charlie's pride.
In addition, using imagery in a poem is helpful to develop a poem's tone.

[1] Booth, Alison, and Kelly J. Mays, eds. "Theme and Tone." The Norton Introduction to Literature, Portable 10th ed. New York: Norton, 2010.
475-6. Print.


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Symbolism (arts) Source: Contributors: ***Ria777, -jkb-, -sche, 2degraff, Agamemnon2, Agent Smith (The Matrix), Alcmaeonid, Alex
contributing, AlexandertheP, Algabal, Allstarecho, Alsandro, Andersonlrc, Andres, AndyZ, Angela, Art&concepts, Belovedfreak, Bento00, Betterusername, Bgwhite, Biruitorul, Bodnotbod,
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Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

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File:Lon Bakst 001.jpg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Alex Bakharev, AndreasPraefcke, Butko,
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