Category Archives: literary genres

Genres of Literature – Literary Nonsense


nonsense

Literary nonsense (or nonsense literary) is a category of literature, which balances elements that make sense with some that do not by an excess of meaning, rather than the lack of it. The most well-known form is nonsense verse and is present in many forms of literature. The nonsensical nature of this genre defines its humor, rather than wit or the typical punchline of a joke.  

Certain formal elements of language and logic facilitate the meanings of the piece and are balanced by elements that negate meaning. These formal elements include semantics, syntax, phonetics, context, representation, and formal diction. For a text to be within the genre of literary nonsense, it must have an abundance of nonsense techniques woven into the fabric of the piece. This is created by the use of faulty cause and effect, portmanteau, neologism, reversals and inversions, imprecision (including gibberish), simultaneity, picture/text incongruity, arbitrariness, infinite repetition, negativity or mirroring, and misappropriation. Nonsense tautology, reduplication, and absurd precision.

The genre has been recognized since the nineteenth century derived from two broad artistic sources. Firstly, oral folk tradition, including games, rhymes and songs, such as nursery rhymes. For example, Hey Diddle Diddle and Mother Goose. Secondly, the intellectual absurdities of scholars, court poets and other intellectuals who created sophisticated nonsense forms of religious travesties, political satire and Latin parodies. They are separate from  the pure satire and parody by their exaggerated nonsensical effects.

Today the genre is a combination of both of these methods. A popular writer, Edward Lear used this genre in his limericks. Other nonsense literature examples are The Owl and the Pussycat, The Dong with a Luminous Nose, The Jumblies,  and The Story of the Four Little Children Who Went Around the World. Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman, can be considered a nonsense novel.

A favorite of mine is Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky – it is a quintessential nonsense poem.

Jabberwocky-main

Do you have a favorite nonsense story or poem?

 

Genres of Literature – Subterranean Fiction


subterran

Subterranean fiction is actually a sub-genre of adventure fiction or science fiction, focusing on underground settings, sometimes at the center of the Earth or otherwise deep below the surface of another planet. The genre is based on the theory of a hollow earth. The earliest works were Enlightenment-era philosophical or allegorical works, where the underground setting was often incidental. In the late 19th century, however, more pseudoscientific or proto-science-fictional motifs gained prevalence.

Common themes include depictions of an underground world that is more primitive than the surface, either culturally, technologically or biologically, or  a combination of these. The earlier stories usually saw the setting used as a venue for sword-and-sorcery fiction, while the latter stories featured extinct creatures, such as dinosaurs, hominids or cryptids living free. A less frequent theme has the underground world technologically advanced, typically either as the refugium of a lost civilization, or even a sanctuary for space aliens.

Some of the earliest novels were: Ludvig Holberg’s 1741 novel Nicolai Klimii iter subterraneum (Niels Klim’s Underground Travels) and Giacomo Casanova’s 1788 Icosameron (a 5-volume, 1800-page story of a brother and sister who fall into the Earth and discover the subterranean utopia of the Mégamicres, a race of multicolored, hermaphroditic dwarfs.

More recent novels have been The City of Ember (2003) by Jeanne DuPrau – a city built underground to survive a nuclear holocaust and Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams – tells of a hollow Earth with an interior sun, in which multiple civilizations exist within and beneath the crust.

As a genre it is not a common theme.

Do you read this genre? Have you written this genre?

 

 

Genres of Literature – Western Fiction


Genre-Western

Western fiction is set in the American Old West frontier and typically ranges from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. The genre peaked around the early 1960s, largely due to the popularity of televised Westerns. Readership began to drop off in the mid- to late 1970’s and has reached a new low in the 2000’s.

In pre-1850’s the predecessor of the western in American literature emerged early with tales of the frontier.  In the 1850’s–1900’s the Western became a specialized genre starting with “penny dreadfuls” and later “dime novels”. In the 1900’s–1930’s it had a  new medium of pulp magazines, which helped to relay these adventures to easterners.
By the 1940’s several seminal Westerns were published and the genre peaked around the early 1960’s, largely due to the tremendous number of Westerns on television.

In the 1970’s the author,Louis L’Amour began to catch hold of most western readers and he has tended to dominate the western reader lists ever since. George G. Gilman also maintained a cult following for several years in the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, by the 1990’s and 2000’s the readership of western fiction reached a new low and most bookstores, outside a few western states, only carry a small number of Western fiction books.

Did you read western fiction when you were younger? Do you read them now? What changed if you stopped reading them?

Do you write western fiction?

 

Genres of Literature – Nautical Fiction


nautical fiction

Nautical fiction is also known as naval fiction, sea fiction, naval adventure fiction or maritime fiction with the setting of the narrative on or near the sea. The narratives focus on human relationships with the sea, sea voyages and highlights nautical culture in that environment.

Settings vary greatly from various seafaring vessels, such as merchant ships, liners, naval ships, fishing vessels, life boats, to locations such as sea ports and fishing villages. 

It is a distinct genre first pioneered in the 19th century by James Fenimore Cooper (The Pilot 1824), and Fredrick Marryat (Frank Midlmay 1829). The genre evolved to include notable novels such as Herman Melville’s Moby Dick 1851, Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1899-1900) and also popular fiction life C.S. Forester’s Hornblower series (1937-67).

Due to the historical dominance of nautical culture by men, they are generally the central characters, although the exception is ships carrying women passengers. The genre is most often marketed for men and therefore the distinctive themes focus on masculinity, heroism, and the psychological struggles of the individual in the hostile environment of the sea. The emphasis is on adventure, accurate representation of maritime culture, and use of nautical language.

Do you write nautical novels or stories?

Apart from Moby Dick (a story everyone knows), which nautical story is your favorite?

 

 

 

 

Genres of Literature – Plantation Tradition


plantation

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?