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taken from Leland Ryken's Glossary, words beginning with A - E


a poem in which the successive units begin with the consecutive letters of the Hebrew alphabet


a work of literature in which some or all of the details have a corresponding other meaning and refer to either concept or historical particular


a reference to past history or literature


the force(s) or character(s) with which the protagonist of a story is in conflict


a literary protagonist who exhibits an absence of the character traits that are conventionally associated with literary heroes


a work of literature, or part of a work of literature, that presents unideal experience; a literary world of total bondage and the absence of the ideal

antithetic parallelism

a two-line poetic unit in which the second line states the truth of the first in the opposite way or introduces a contrast


a short, memorable statement of truth

apocalyptic literature

a type of Hebrew visionary literature


a figure of speech in which the writer addresses someone absent or something nonhuman as if it were present or human and could respond to the address


an image, plot motif, or character type that recurs throughout literature and is part of a reader's total literary experience


a love poem that praises the attractive features and/or virtues of the beloved by means of a catalogue or listing technique

calling stories

in the Gospels, stories in which Jesus calls a person to follow him or to respond to a command. Also called "vocation stories"

climactic parallelism

a form of parallelism in which the first line is left incomplete until the second line repeats part of it and then makes it a whole statement by adding to it


a story with a U-shaped plot in which the action begins in prosperity, descends into potentially tragic events, and rise to a happy ending

conflict stories

Gospel stories that narrate Jesus' controversies with an opposing person or group. Also called "controversy stories"


the last phase of a story, following the climax; literally the "tying up of loose ends"


having the intention or impulse to teach


an address to an audience

dramatic irony

a situation where the reader knows something of which some or all the characters in a story are ignorant


a symbolic and sometimes pictorial image to which a person or thing is compared

emblematic blazon

a love poem that lists the features of the beloved and compares them to objects or emblems in nature or human experience

dramatic monologue

a literary work in which a single speaker addresses an implied but silent listener and in which various details keep this dramatic situation alive in the reader's consciousness


a work of literature that praises an abstract quality or a generalized character type

encounter stories

Gospel stories in which a person is confronted with the claims of Jesus, which that person must either accept or reject


a long narrative having a number of conventional characteristics


a moment of heightened insight in a literary work


a letter that attains literary status by virtue of the literary techniques used in it


a lyric poem that celebrates wedding (also spelled epithalamium)


an exalted title for a person or thing; a feature of the high style, especially as found in epic


the literary term for close reading of at text. It implies not only careful analysis of a text but also putting one's analysis into the organized form for written or oral presentation to an audience


the opening phase of a story in which the writer presents the background information that the reader needs in order to understand the plot that will subsequently unfold

expository writing

writing whose main purpose is to convey information

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