English Literature Dictionary

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hagiography: A study of the lives of the saints.

haiku: A Japanese poem where the  form consists of a single three-line stanza of seventeen syllables. The first line contains five syllables, the second contains seven, whilst the last has, again, five syllables. The short poem encapsulates the spirit of the poet's mood. Haikus often lose their meaning in translation.

half-rhyme: See inexact rhyme.

hallel: A prayer based on some of the Psalms.

hamartia: A tragic flaw.

head rhyme: Actually another term for alliteration. See alliteration.

Hemingway, Earnest: American writer and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Hemingway code hero: Qualities such as honour, courage and dignity which are expressed in a hero in a Hemingway novel.

Hengwrt manuscript: A fifteenth century manuscript of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.

heptameter: A line that contains seven metrical feet.

herald: See heraldry.

heraldry: The study and investigation of coats-of-arms and aristocratic insignia.

hero: the leading character or protagonist in a narrative. Generally, in modern terminology, the hero is good and male. A female hero is called a heroine. The opposite of the hero is the anti-hero.

heroine: See hero (female).

heroic couplet: Two successive rhyming lines of iambic pentameter, where the second line is usually end-stopped. It was convention to string long sequences of heroic couplets together in a pattern of aa, bb, cc, dd, ee, ff etc.

hexameter: A line of meter that has six feet. This type of metrical foot is widespread in Greek and Latin literature.

high comedy: Comedy consisting of witty repartee and a complex plot.

historical novel: A novel where real historical events are featured, with the combination of fictional characters.

holocaust: The contemporary meaning of this term refers to the genocide of European Jews during the Second World War. This occurred in Nazi concentration camps. Classically the term also refers to the sacrifices offered to Greek gods through burning.

homily: A saying or phrase with an inspirational message.

Horatian ode: A poem in ode form with a particular pattern to the stanzas.

Horatian satire: A satire named for the Roman satirist Horace. It is a satire with an amused and tolerant voice.

horror story: A genre of prose fiction that aims to create a sense of fear, disgust, or horror in the reader.

hubris: All consuming pride or arrogance.

Hughes, Ted: Born on 17 August 1930 in Yorkshire, England, Ted Hughes was a celebrated poet and writer of children’s books. The struggle between the beauty and violence in the natural world was a concern which Hughes explored in his work. His work includes the Crow (1970) and The Iron Man (1968). He died on 28 October 1998. He was married to SylviaPlath.

Hugo award: Award for Science fiction works.

humanism: A philosophical belief that rejects religious belief and emphasizes science, human endeavour in the natural world and reason.

hymn: A song, prayer or speech in honour of God.

hypallage: A reversal in the relationship of the meaning of two words.

hyperbaton: Unexpected use of word order, usually for emphasis.

hyperbole: The literary device of exaggeration or overstatement. For example ‘The boy was as big as a whale’.

hypercatalectic: A poetic line which has an additional syllable after the final beat or foot.

hypercorrection: An inappropriate correction to grammar.

hypertext novel: Electronic literature which makes provision for reader reaction through the use of hypertext links.

hysteron-proteron: An expression or phrase in which the usual order of the words are reversed.

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Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time.
Barbara W. Tuchman

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