Friday, September 29, 2006

Literary Terms

One of the lists I found yesterday was a list of lipogramatic novels. Now it's a good thing the introduction to the list included a definition of lipogram because I am really bad at remembering literary terms. The only ones I can reliably get are sonnet and haiku. I'm pretty good with points of view too. Ask me what an anagram is and I will give you a blank stare. And I am hopeless if I have to identify a palindrome. You'd think that with my degrees in English lit I'd have no problem describing a picaresque novel, or that I might know the difference between blank verse and free verse. Think again. Is it a failure of my education or a failure on my part? I think I must blame myself for a good chunk of it. Two seconds ago I would have sworn not a single professor ever talked in any depth about literary terms. Then I picked up a book from my shelf, A Glossary of Literary Terms by M.H. Abrams which I would also have sworn two seconds ago that I had picked up out of a library discard box, and I see on the back of the book a sticker from my college bookstore, "English 275." Oops. However, there are no marks in the book other than the last quarter of it where there is a section called "Modern Theories of Literature and Criticism." Judging from my underlining, I read the section on feminist criticism, new historicism, and psychological and psychoanalytic criticism. The encounter must have been so traumatic for my sophomore self that I have blocked it from my mind. And since there are no other notes in the book I am a little upset that my professor made me buy this book only for lit crit summaries. What a waste of my student dollars! It also shed light on why I still have to look up the meaning of bildungsroman. I am grateful that enjoying and understanding a good book or poem does not require a person to know anything more than a handful of basic terms. If I had to know what a synecdoche is or be able to count how many feet are in a line of poetry I'd been doomed. Note: No z's or x's have been used in the writing of this post. Z was easy. I had to remove four words with x in them. It would be fun to try a more difficult letter like m or g sometime. I don't think I could manage without all the vowels though. Technical Note: Reader Dorie informed me the site feed has not been working for a couple of days. I think I fixed it, but you may need to resubscribe.