fable a narrative not founded on fact, and intended
to convey a lesson. Aesop, La Fontaine, James Thurber ( Fables for our
Time ). See John Vernon Lord lecture on The Fox and the Crow.
Chaucer, Canterbury Tales . "History is the recital of facts represented
as true. Fable, on the contrary, is the recital of facts represented
as a fiction. " Denis Diderot, definition of History in L'Encyclopaedie
a short metrical tale usually found in French poetry but also Chaucer,
Canterbury Tales .
folk narrative ; recent examples by Angela Carter and J.L.Borges; see
Vladimir Propp, Theory and History of Folklore .
folk legend Katherine Briggs, British Folk Tales and
Legends Paladin London 1977.
nursery rhyme the modern English poet ,Charles Causley.
Iona and Peter Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes . Dylan
Thomas wrote, "The words Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross were
as haunting to me, who did not know then what a cock-horse was nor cared
a damn where Banbury Cross might be,as, much later, were such lines
as John Donne's "Go catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake
root, " which I could not understand when I first read them."
parable the inclusion of a moral or spiritual truth
in a fictitious narrative. In Christian lore, The New Testament .
proverb a short pithy saying in common use
epigram a short poem ending in a witty or pointed conclusion.
Martial. Grigson, The Faber Book of Epigrams and Epitaphs
epitaph a brief piece of writing on the death of someone.
motto a short and pithy maxim usually inscribed on
an object or contained in a cracker.
emblem emblem books were particularly popular in Britain
between 1580 and 1640 ie Geoffrey Whitney A Choice of Emblemes , 1586
usually an image but sometimes attached to a motto or parable to encapsulate
Raymond Queneau, Exercises in Style . being 195 ways of describing the
one meaningless incident.
allegory describing something under the guise of something
else ie John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress . Edmund Spencer, The Faerie
Queen . "it was the vice of those times to affect superstitiously
the Allegory; and nothing would then be current without a mystic meaning..."
Rymer about Spencer 1674
myth - epic - saga A fictional narrative often involving
supernatural persons to embody some idea, usually associated with natural
or historical phenomena. Epics are usually associated with verse form.
Dante. The Divine Comedy . Beowolf, an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem. The
Odyssey .The Iliad .
novel - novelette Miguel Cervantes, Don Quixote ; Laurence
Sterne, Tristram Shandy .
the picaresque a piece of writing film in the form
of a journey.
epistolary novel A novel written as a collection of letters.
Laclos, Les Liasions Dangeureuses .
the short story A restricted narrative in prose form.
The Caribbean writer Olive Senior, Summer Lightning . We've made a group
analysis of James Joyce, The Dead from Dubliners . Filmed by John Huston.
Kay Boyle's short stories for The New Yorker . Kathleen Mansfield and
John Cheever. The Irish writer Frank O'Connor.
parody writing intended to mimic another for the puposes
of ridicule. The poetry of Wendy Cope. Max Beerbohm, and unconscious
self-parodies, see Dwight McDonald, Parodies , Faber & Faber 1960.
In his Daydream College for Bards , W.H.Auden forsaw, " The Library
would contain no books of literary criticism, and the only critical
exercise required of students would be the writing of paradies."
satire a piece of writing intended to make something
or someone look ridiculous. Rabelais and the Carnivalesque. aphorism
and enigmaByron and Pope. See also allegory and fable.
pastiche a design (words or images) made up from fragments
pieced together in emulation of another person or style. Pasticcio,
from Latin pasticium = paste.
poem - verse an arrangement of words/lines in an intended
order and rhythm. On the course we look at the poetry of Sylvia Plath,
The Disquieting Muses , from Collected Poems; and Wallace Stevens, The
Emperor of Ice Cream, from Collected Poems . Stevens saw poetry as "a
pheasant disappearing into the brush." (Scully)
haiku a Japanese verse form of 17 syllables often arranged
5, 7, and 5. Find work by Basho.
sonnet a piece of verse usually expressing one main
idea, of fourteen lines, each being typically an iambic pentameter of
ten syllables ie John Donne, Songs and Sonets 1635.
limerick a five line verse form (aabba) always used
for comic purposes. The limerick was made an acceptable verse form by
Edward Lear although it had been used in children's books as earl;y
ballad a light simple song, often narrative.A Book
of Ballads, Chatto and Windus, London 1938, Zodiac Book The French cabaret
tradition, Jacques Brel.Brecht's cabaret songs.
song a musical setting of words, Shakespeare, The Tempest,
Twelfth Night etc.
clerihew a four line nonsense biography of a living or historical
figure, a literary genre by the writer Eric Clerihew Bentley while at
school and first published in Biography for Beginners . An example,
"It was a pity about Dickens/ Insane jealousy of chickens,/ And
one could almost really weep/ At his morbid mistrust of sheep."
from E.C.B. More Biography.
playscript the words from which actors read before
libretto the text of an opera, ie. Schikaneder's libretto to
Mozart's The Magic Flute .
monologue where a person speaks to him or herself,
ie Alan Bennett, Talking Heads. description setting forth in words the
major characteristics of something or someone. See also Raymond Queneau,
Exercises in Style .
faction Truman Capote, In Cold Blood . Thomas Kenneally,
Schindler's Ark .
scenario the sketch of the plot of a play and, more
usually, a film.
film script Graham Greene, The Third Man , see the
film and read the novel. David Mamet, The House of Games . Peter Greenaway,
Drowning by Numbers and Prospero's Books .
diary - journal a daily record of events travel or transactions;in
fictional form, see Max Brod,ed., The Diaries of Franz Kafka , Penguin
1975, December 25th 1915,p.353, "Open the diary only in order to
lull myself to sleep. But see what happens to be the last entry and
could conceive of thousands of identical ones I might have entered over
the past three or four years. I wear myself out to no purpose, should
be happy if I could write, but I don't."
confession The Confessions of Saint Augustine - but
also can be a fictional account of a person's faults.