English Literature Dictionary

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realism: Originally the term referred to a literary movement in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in America, Europe, and England. More generally speaking the term signals towards a literary, or artistic, depiction of life in an accurate, straightforward, unidealised manner.

received pronunciation: The pronunciation associated with Standard British English.

refrain: A repeated line, or number of lines, at the close of a stanza.

regional dialect: Variation in pronunciation and speech patterns due to geographical location.

repetition: This term can refer to the duplication of a number of things in literature. It can be the reiteration of words, phrases, sounds, motifs or ideas within a text. The device is often used within poetry for emphasis.

Renaissance: Originally, the term refers to a period of cultural, technological, and artistic vitality during the British economic expansion in the late 1500s and early 1600s. More generally a renaissance is any period in which a people or nation experiences a period of vitality and explosive growth in its art, poetry, education, economy, linguistic development, or scientific knowledge. The term is positive in connotation.

resolution: Where the ‘loose’ ends of a narrative are brought together and resolved, or the conclusion of the climax.

restoration: The restoration, or the Restoration Period, is the time from 1660, when the Stuart monarch Charles II was re-established as ruler of England, to about 1700.

revenge play: A Renaissance genre of drama, where the plot revolves around the protagonist’s attempt to avenge a previous wrong, by killing the perpetrator of the deed. There is usually much bloodshed and violence. Shakespeare's Hamlet has been identified as a revenge play.

revenge tragedy: See revenge play.

Revolutionary Age: A term from time to time employed to refer to American literature written between 1765 and roughly 1790.

rhetoric: The art of persuasive argument or eloquent and charismatic language through writing or speech.

rhetorical question: A question, which does not expect an answer, usually asked for effect or comment. On occasion the speaker or author offers the answer to the question.

rhyme: Rhyme is the matching similarity of sounds in two or more words, especially when their accented vowels and all succeeding consonants are identical. For instance, the word-pairs listed here are all rhymes: mating/dating, feast/beast, emotion/demotion and fascinate/deracinate. Rhyme is often used in poetry.

rhyme scheme: The pattern of rhyme. The traditional way to mark these patterns of rhyme is to assign a letter of the alphabet to each rhyming sound at the end of each line. For instance, ABABCDCD.

rhyming couplets: Pairs of lines that rhyme, for instance aabbcc. Examples of rhyming couplets can be found throughout Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, for instance in The Merchant’s Tale.

 Were it for hoolynesse or for dotage,

I kan nat seye, but swich a greet corage

Hadde this knyght to been a wedded man

That day and nyght he dooth al that he kan

rhythm: The varying speed, movement, intensity, loudness, pitch, and expressiveness of speech, especially in poetry.

rhythmical pause: See caesura.

riddle: A word puzzle where something is described and then a question is asked. An audience would then have to decipher and guess what the speaker is referring to. The answer to the question is usually an object, person or idea. Riddles have been popular in all cultures, during all ages.

rising action: The action or events in a story or plot building up to the climax.

romance: Traditionally, a long fictional prose narrative about unlikely events involving characters that are very different from ordinary people, e.g knights. Nowadays the modern romance novel is a prescribed love story, where boy meets girl, obstacles get in the way, they are then overcome and the couple live happily ever after.

Romantic poets: Poets associated with the Romantic Period, ( from 1789 - 1824) when much poetry was written as a reaction to the Industrial revolution and the French Revolution. Examples of Romantic poets include Byron,Keats, Shelley,Blake and Wordsworth.

Romantic Period: Usually this term refers to literature written in Europe during the early 1800s, however it can also gesture towards the American Romantic period, which was between1828 and 1865. See romanticism.

romanticism: The term refers to a movement around 1780-1840. Romanticism rejected the philosophy of the enlightenment, and instead turned to the gothic, the notion of carpe diem and above all placed importance on nature and the wilderness. Romantic poets included William Blake, William Wordsworth, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Lord Gordon Byron.

rubric: The information and instructions given on the front of a question paper. These must be read carefully before you start writing to avoid mistakes

run-on line: See enjambment.

Rushdie, Salman: Born on 19 June 1947, Rushdie is a British-Indian writer who is renowned for his novels that incorporate magic realism. His work is often set partly in the India, Pakistan or Kashmir. Notable works by Rushdie include The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children. See post-colonialism.

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow...
Lawrence Clark Powell

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