Category Archives: Genres

Genres of Literature – Plantation Tradition


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Plantation tradition is a genre of literature based in the southern states of the United States. The genre generally sets the era as occurring or existing before the American Civil War.

Before the American Civil War several works idealized the plantation, such as John Pendleton Kennedy’s 1832 The Swallow Barn. However, plantation tradition became more popular in the late-nineteenth century, due to the reaction against slave narratives like those of Frederick Douglass, and abolitionist novels like Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Prominent writers in the plantation tradition include Thomas Nelson Page (1853-1922) and Harry Stillwell Edwards (1855-1938). Other writers, especially African-American writers, soon satirized the genre: Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman (1899), for example, “consciously evoked the conventions of the plantation novel only to subvert them”.

The earlier novels do not have a place in modern society but there are still novels and movies set during the era. The most famous one, of course is Gone with the Wind (1939). Although, I did not read the book, I watched Twelve Years A Slave, which horrified me. It is a 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, who was a New York State-born free African-American kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two conmen in 1841 and sold into slavery. 

There are romanticized novels of plantations but also narratives of the inhumanity and brutality of slavery. 

Do you write or read plantation genre novels?

Literary Genres – Self-help Book


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Self-help books are written with the intention of instructing its readers on solving personal problems. The books take their name from Self-Help, an 1859 best-seller by Samuel Smiles. However, they are also know and classified under self-improvement, the term being a modernized version of self-help. Self-help books moved from a niche position to being a postmodern cultural phenomenon in the late twentieth century.

The first self-help writings are most probably from the Ancient Egyptian “Codes” of conduct, the classical Roman, Cicero’s On Friendship and On Duties as well as the Florentine Giovanni della Casa’s book of manners published in 1558.

However, in the last half-century or so the humble self-help book has jumped to cultural prominence, in fact it could be said self-help books have become an addiction in and of themselves. These books cover such subjects as relationships, personal improvement, whether physical or emotional, spiritual enlightenment, and many more.

Have you used self-help book?

Have you written one?

A friend of mine, Kathie Sutherland has a blog that covers personal and spiritual growth and self-expression. Why not take a look?

http://kathiesutherland.com/

Genres of Literature – Milesian Tale


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A Milesian tale  is a genre of fictional story prominent in ancient Greek and Roman literature, it is a short story, fable, or folktale featuring love and adventure, usually of an erotic or titillating nature. It can be found in medieval collections of tales such as the Gesta Romanorum, the Decameron of Boccaccio, and the Heptameron of Marguerite of Navarre”.

One definition of this genre is: a type of first-person novel, a travelogue told from memory by a narrator, who every now and then would relate how he encountered other characters who in turn, told him stories, which he would then incorporate into the main tale through the rhetorical technique of narrative impersonation. This resulted in a complicated narrative fabric: a travelogue carried by a main narrator with numerous subordinate tales carried by subordinate narrative voices.

The best complete example of this would be Apuleius’s The Golden Ass, a Roman novel written in the second century of the Common Era. Apuleius introduces his novel with the words “At ego tibi sermone isto Milesio varias fabulas conseram” (“But let me join together different stories in that Milesian style”), which suggests not each story is a Milesian tale, but rather the entire joined-together collection. The idea of the Milesian tale also served as a model for the episodic narratives strung together in Petronius’s Satyricon.

Aristides’s Milesian Tale
The name Milesian tale originates from the Milisiaka of Aristides of Miletus, who was a writer of shameless and amusing tales notable for their salacious content and unexpected plot twists. Aristides set his tales in Miletus, which had a reputation for a luxurious, easy-going lifestyle.

Milesian tales quickly gained a reputation for ribaldry: Ovid, in Tristia, contrasts the boldness of Aristides and others with his own Ars Amatoria, for which he was punished by exile. In the dialogue on the kinds of love, Erotes, Lucian of Samosata, praised Aristides in passing, saying that after a day of listening to erotic stories he felt like Aristides, “that enchanting spinner of bawdy yarns”. 

Though the idea of the Milesian tale served as a model for the episodic narratives strung together in The Satyricon by Gaius Petronius Arbiter and The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius (second century CE), neither Aristides’s original Greek text nor the Latin translation survived. The lengthiest survivor from this literature is the tale of “Cupid and Psyche”, found in Apuleius.

Aristidean saucy and disreputable heroes and spicy, fast-paced anecdote resurfaced in the medieval fabliaux. Chaucer’s “The Miller’s Tale” is in Aristides’ tradition, as are some of the saltier tales in Boccaccio’s Decameron or the Heptameron of Margaret of Angoulême.

So in short, erotic literature is certainly not new! Although I do not read this specific genre, I have written some ‘erotic’ scenes in The Twesome Loop. It was not planned but ‘directed’ by a couple of the characters.

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Do you read or write erotica? 

 

Genres of Literature – Magic Realism


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Magical realism, magic realism, or marvelous realism is a genre of narrative fiction that encompasses a range of subtly different concepts. These express a primarily realistic view of the real world, while adding or revealing magical or supernatural elements presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting.

Matthew Strecher defined magic realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe”. 

The characteristics listed below can be included but not exclusively.

Fantastical elements

Fantasy traits are given to characters, such as levitation, telepathy, and telekinesis, which help to encompass modern political realities that can be phantasmagorical.

Real-world setting

The fantasy elements provides the basis for magical realism in the real world. The author does not invent new worlds but reveals the magical in it. In other words, the supernatural realm blends with the natural, familiar world.

Authorial reticence

This is the deliberate withholding of information and explanations about the disconcerting fictitious world by the author, which proceeds with “logical precision” as if nothing extraordinary took place. Magical events are presented as ordinary occurrences. 

More recent examples are Life of Pi and Big Fish.

Do you write or read magical realism?

What is your favorite book in this genre?

Genres of Literary – Graphic Novel


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A graphic novel is made up of comic styled content rarely using any words but a lot of pictures. The term “graphic novel” is broadly applied and can include fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. This type of novel was originally created in the 1940’s and 50’s. The definition is – a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book.

The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck is the oldest recognized American example of a comic subsequently published as a ‘novel’ in 1828. The genre grew in popularity from the 1920’s through to the late 1960’s, when American comic book creators were becoming more adventurous with the form. While, in continental Europe, the tradition of collecting serials of popular strips, such as The Adventures of Tintin became popular.

 Gil Kane and Archie Goodwin’s Blackmark (1971), was a science fiction/sword-and-sorcery paperback published by Bantam Books and described as the very first American graphic novel. It was a 119-page story of comic-book art, with captions and word balloons, published in a traditional book format. 

In response to criticism regarding the content of comic books, and to the establishment of the industry’s self-censorship, Comics Code Authority an underground alternative comix movement was created in the 1970’s.  The term “graphic novel” was intended to distinguish it from the traditional serialized nature of comic books, with which it shared a storytelling medium. One term used was that graphic novels introduced the concept of graphiation, which was a newly coined term used to describe graphic expression or visual enunciation. 

Which graphic novel character is your favorite?