English Literature Dictionary

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early modern English: The English language from 1475 to 1700.Chaucer is before this period.

echoic words: An onomatopoeic word or one which imitates natural sound.

eclipsis: Where parts of words are omitted.

eclogue: A poem in the form of a dialogue.

edition: A printed text, from which future re-printings or reissues are prepared. If there are considerable changes in further printings, the printing is called a 'second edition’. The printing details of a text are usually marked on one of the first few pages of the book.

Edwardian Period: The period in England when Edward VII was on the throne (1901- 10), i.e. generally between the death of Queen Victoria and the First World War.

elegy: A poem that mourns the death of an individual.

elision: The merging together of two syllables in a line e.g. 'e'er' rather than 'ever'.

Eliot, Thomas Stearns (TS Eliot): - American poet and playwright (1888 -1965). He is considered by many as one of the most significant English-language poets of the twentieth centaury.

Elizabethan actors: The popular and regulary featured actors in Elizabethan theatre.

Elizabethan Period: The period of time which covers Queen Elizabeth I's reign, from 1558-1603. Shakespeare wrote his early works during the Elizabethan period.

Ellesmere manuscript: An illustrated (or illuminated) manuscript thought to date from  the fifteenth century of Chaucer's, The Canterbury Tales.

ellipsis (plural, ellipses): A rhetorical device where a word is omitted because it is implied by a previous clause.

Elohist text: A source of the Torah.

emblem: A symbol which is representative of something.

emotion: A conscious state of feeling created by the writer to convey joy, sorrow, love, hate etc to the reader. See mood, ambience and atmosphere

enallage: When one grammatical form is used in the place of another.

enapalepsis: A type of repetition (phrase or word) with the repetition occurring at the beginning and again at the end of a sentence.

enclitic: Collocated to the end of another word, with a dependent meaning.

encyclical: Refers to a letter which is meant for a general audience.

end rhyme: Rhyme where the last word of each verse is the word that rhymes. This is a very common type of rhyme.

end-stop: In poetry this is a line ending in a full pause (such as a full stop or semicolon). End-stopped lines generally highlight a rhyme or point. End-stops contrasts with enjambment or run-on lines.

Engels, Friedrich: Engel was born on 28 November 1820 and died on 5 August 1895. The German was a social scientist and philosopher who wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848 alongside Marx. See Marxism and Marx.

English sonnet: Another term for a Shakespearean sonnet.

enjambment: A line in poetry which does not have end punctuation, or a pause, but which continues uninterrupted into the next line. Also referred to as a run-on line.

enlightenment: The European philosophical and artistic movement, between roughly 1660 and 1770, developing out of the Renaissance and continuing until the nineteenth century. The Enlightenment was an optimistic belief that humanity could improve itself by applying logic and reason to all things. It rejected untested beliefs, superstition, and the "barbarism" of the earlier medieval period, and embraced the literary, architectural, and artistic forms of the Greco-Roman world. The period is sometimes known as the Age of Reason.

envoi: Often found in ballads, it is a short, concluding stanza which functions as a dedication.

epenthesis: Inserting of a sound mid word.

epic: This is a type of classical poetry, generally recounting heroic achievements. It is a poem that is a long narrative about a serious subject, told in an elevated style of language. Epics generally focus on the exploits of a hero or demi-god who represents the cultural values of a race, nation, or religious group. John Milton’s Paradise lost is an example of a famous epic. See classic.

epic simile: While taking a simile form, it is a very detailed comparison and can be many lines long.

epicureanism: A philosophy derived from the writing of Epicurus who believed the seeking of pleasure to be good but with an emphasis on simplicity of life.

epigram: A short verse or motto appearing at the beginning of a longer poem or the title page of a novel.

epigraph: A device employed to intimate the significance of what follows later in the text. An epigraph usually takes the form of a quotation or motto at the beginning of a book, chapter or poem.

epilogue: A conclusion to a literary work such as a novel, play, or long poem. It is the opposite of a prologue.

epiphany: In literature, a work which symbolically presents a moment of inspiration, insight and revelation.

episode: Thematically connected stories or scenes making up a whole text.

epistle: A poetry or prose letter sent to another.

epistolary: Contained in or consisting of letters.

epistolary novel: A novel which is written as a number of letters.

epistrophe: A repeated word at the end of two or more verses or sentences.

epitaph: An epitaph refers to an inscription carved on a gravestone, or, more generally, an epitaph is the final statement spoken by a character before his death.

epithet: The use of an adjective, or adjectival phrase, to portray a specific trait of a person or object. For example Richard the Lionheart

epizeuxis: A type of repetition used as a device, where a word is repeated with emphasis.

eponym: A word which has its origins in a person's name.

eponymous: When the title of a work is taken from the name of the protagonist. For instance King Lear or Macbeth.

equivoque: An expression which contains ambiguity or a double meaning.

escape literature: Fiction written with the primary purpose being for the reader to escape from reality.

eschatological narrative: A story about the end of the world.

eschatology: A branch of theology dealing with Judgement Day and the Second Coming.

essay: In modern terminology an essay is a discursive piece of writing, sometimes by a student, sometimes by a scholar

etymon: A simple form inferred as the common basis from which related words in several languages can be derived by linguistic processes

etymology: The origin of a word, or the study of word origins and the history of words.

euphemism: Using a mild or gentle phrase instead of a blunt, embarrassing, or painful one. For instance, saying "Grandfather has gone to a better place" is a euphemism for "Grandfather has died."

euphony: A pleasant or agreeable sound effect.

euphuism: A prose style that is elegant and elaborate. Not to be confused with 'euphemism'.

eurocentric The term refers to an argument, course, text or any piece of writing that is focused exclusively upon European literature and culture.

examine: See discuss.

excursus: A detailed discussion appended, such as in an afterword or an appendix.

exegesis: An analysis or explanation, particularly of a portion of the Bible.

explore: See discuss.

evaluate: See discuss.

event: An occurrence or an incident within a text or plot. A story will generally consist of several events.

existentialism:  A twentieth-century literary and philosophical movement, which highlights the fact that people are entirely free. They are thus responsible for what they make of themselves and their social condition. This brings a sense of anguish or dread. Albert Camus is a well known author of existentialist literary texts.

exodos: The final piece of a Greek tragedy, occurring after the last choral ode and ended by the ceremonial exit of all the actors.

exposition: Where the scene is outlined through setting, in a play or story. Sometimes the exposition deals with crucial events or information, prior to the opening of the narrative.

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What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote.
E. M. Forster

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