Literary Terms

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1. Allegory (寓言)– The word derives from the Greek allegoria ( “speaking other-wise” ). It loosely describes any writing in verse or prose that has a double meaning. This fictional literary narrative acts as an extended metaphor in which persons, abstract ideas, or events represent not only themselves on the literal level, but also stand for something else on the symbolic level. An allegorical reading usually involves moral or spiritual concepts that may be more significant than the actual, literal events described in a narrative. Probably the most famous allegory in English literature is John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (1678), a prose narrative symbolically concerning the human soul’s pilgrimage through temptation and doubt to reach salvation. Other important allegorical works include Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

2. Ballad (民谣)– In more exact literary terminology, a ballad is a narrative poem consisting of quatrains of iambic tetrameter alternating with iambic trimeter. Common traits of the ballad are that (a) the beginning is often abrupt, (b) the story is told through dialogue and action (c) the language is simple or “folksy,” (d) the theme is often tragic ---- though comic ballads do exist, (e) the ballad contains a refrain repeated several times. The ballad became popular in England in the late 14th century and was adopted by many writers. One of the most important anthologies of ballads is F. J. Child’s The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.

3. Epic (史诗)– An epic is a long oral narrative poem that operates on a grand scale and deals with legendary or historical events of national or universal significance. Most epics deal with the exploits of a single individual and also interlace the main narrative with myths, legends, folk tales and past events; there is a composite effect, the entire culture of a country cohering in the overall experience of the poem. Epic poems are not merely entertaining stories of legendary or historical heroes; they summarize and express the nature or ideals of an entire nation at a significant or crucial period of its history.

4. Romance (传奇)– Romance was the most prevailing kind of literature of the upper class in feudal England in the Medieval Ages. It is a long composition in verse or in prose which describes the life and chivalric adventures of a noble hero. (Romances in verse sometimes called “metrical romances.”) The central character of romances is the knight, a man of noble birth skilled in the use of weapon. Some romances also deal with legendary, supernatural, or amorous subjects an characters. According to national themes or “matters”, the great majority of the romances fall into groups or cycles, as the “natters of Britain”, the “matters of France” and the “matters of Rome”. Later prose and verse narratives particularly those in the 19th century romantic tradition which were set in distant or mythological places and times and stressed adventure and supernatural elements are also referred to as romances.

5. Blank verse (无韵诗或素体诗)– Also called unrhymed poetry typically in iambic pentameter. Blank verse has been called the most “natural” verse form for dramatic works, since it supposedly is the verse form most close to natural rhythms of English speech, and it has been the dominant verse form of English drama and narrative poetry since the mid-sixteenth century. In 1540, from Italy, blank verse was brought into English literature by the poet Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who first used it in his translation of Aeneid, by the Roman poet Virgil. Christopher Marlowe used blank verse for dramatic use; and English playwright William Shakespeare transformed blank verse into a supple instrument , uniquely capable of conveying speech rhythms and emotional overtones.

6. Comedy (喜剧)– comedy is a light form of drama that aims primarily to amuse and that ends happily. Since it strives to provoke smile and laughter, both wit and humor are utilized....
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