Biblioklept’s Dictionary of Literary Terms

AFFECTIVE FALLACY

Avoid reading with emotions. Ignore any feelings you feel during reading—that’s not the point of literature.

BYRONIC HERO

Super-cool cool guy.

CANON

All the literature that’s fit to print. Declare it dead or meaningless or obsolete every few years. Revise as necessary.

DIARY

The private thoughts of an author, never intended for publication. Publish and disseminate widely after death.

ENLIGHTENMENT

A brief, optimistic mistake.

FRANKENSTEIN

Always point out that Frankenstein is the doctor’s name, not the monster’s. Argue that Percy Shelley’s edits were intrusive.

GOTHIC NOVEL

Wears black; smokes cloves.

HAIKU

A form of poetry grade school children are forced to write. Count the syllables.

INKHORN TERM

Linguistic aureation proliferated to adnichilate reader apperception.

JOUISSANCE

A nebulous, sticky French pun.

KITSCH

The sad process by which the consumerist trash capitalism necessitates colonizes an aesthetic perspective via defensive irony.

LIMERICK

The acme of excellence in poetry. Nantucket is a popular setting.

MEMOIR

A genre of literature often mistaken for truth by its audience.

NOVELLA

A novelist’s chance at perfection.

ORWELLIAN

A useful adjective. Misuse freely—especially if you only dimly recall the two or three things you ever read by George Orwell.

PHALLOGOCENTRISM

In the beginning there was the Word, and the Word was Phallus.

QUARTO

Bring up in any discussion of Shakespeare; watch the students’ eyes glaze over.

ROMAN A CLEF

A genre of literature often mistaken for fiction by its audience.

SOCRATIC IRONY

The tedious, drawn out process of questioning that Plato submits his characters to in order to get to his thesis.

THEME

A misunderstanding of the text in which all its words are distilled into a single cliché, guaranteeing that the text will not have to be reread.

UNCANNY

Pair with valley or X-Men.

VARIORUM

An annotated edition of a text with scholarly commentary intended to ruin any possible enjoyment on the reader’s part.

WELTANSCHAUUNG

A German word that students should use in term papers instead of “viewpoint” or “perspective.”

XANADU

Poorly received 1980 musical film about roller skating. Also the setting of a Coleridge poem.

YA

Abbreviation for “Young Adult,” a genre of books that people of all ages read and which serve as the basis for Hollywood film franchises.

ZARATHUSTRA

Dude who spake.

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12 thoughts on “Biblioklept’s Dictionary of Literary Terms”

  1. Chuckle plenty. From sardonic to trenchant in A to Z. Throw in a little sarcasm and a pinch of irony, too. I thought YA means Well, yes.

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  2. More good stuff. Particularly enjoyed the Limerick. German words adopted by pretentious academics are a fine source of inspiration you’ve picked up on.
    LEITMOTIF = A less serious motif

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