Tag Archives: genres of literature

Genres of Literature – Literary Nonsense


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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.

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Do you have a favorite nonsense story or poem?

 

Genre of Literature – Social Novel


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The social novel, is also known as the social problem (or social protest) novel, the sociological novel and is a work of fiction, which dramatizes a prevailing social problem through the effect they have on the novel’s characters. Topics covered can be as diverse as gender, race, or class prejudice although the narrative can also address poverty, conditions in factories or mines, violence against women, rising criminality and epidemics caused by poor sanitation or overcrowding in urban areas.

 

Other terms used to define this genre are thesis novel, propaganda novel, industrial novel, working-class novel and problem novel. A more recent development in this genre is the young adult problem novel.

Early examples can be found in 18th century England, as well as throughout Europe and the United States. Henry Fielding’s Amelia (1751) and William Godwin’s Things as The Are OR The Adventures of Caleb Williams (1794) are thought precursors of the genre. During the social and political upheavals following the Reform Act of 1833 in England social novels began, such as Charles Dickens’ novels highlighting poverty and unhealthy living conditions. Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables (1862) was a significant protest novel. Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) dealt with anti-slavery and The Grapes of Wrath is probably the best known social protest novel.

How many social novels have you read?

Have you written one?

 

 

Genres of Literature – Flash Fiction


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In short, Flash Fiction is a fictional piece of prose in extreme brevity but still offering character and plot development. They can be defined by word count, which includes the six-word story, the 280-character story; commonly known as twitterature’, the dribble or minisaga, 50 words, the drabble or microfiction, 100-words, sudden fiction (750 words), flash fiction (1000 words), nanotale and micro-story. This genre possesses a unique literary quality, in its ability to hint at or imply a larger story.  In the 1920s flash fiction was referred to as the “short short story”.

Flash fiction roots go back into prehistory, recorded at origin of writing, which included fables and parables, the best know is of course, Aesop’s Fables in the west, and Panchatantra and Jataka tales in India. In Japan, flash fiction was popularized in the post-war period particularly by Michio Tsuzuk. In the United State early forms were found int he 19th century by such notable figures as Ambrose Bierce, Walt Whitman and Kate Chopin.

There are many internet sites and magazines that accept flash or micro fiction. I have submitted micro stories before and found them to be great fun!

Here is a list of some sites:

http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/flash-fiction-list-resources

Have you tried micro fiction?

Which site(s) did you use?

I submitted quite a few to Espresso Fiction but alas there are no more 😦  It was a great exercise for me as a novice writer.

 

 

 

Genres of Literature – A Tall Tale


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We all tell the occasional tall tale and know of the old fisherman stories of the ‘big one that got away’ these are mainly verbal tales or stories told around a campfire or to impress our friends and family.

The definition of a tall tale is a story containing unbelievable elements, related as though they are true and factual. These exaggerations of actual events, are mainly told ‘tongue in cheek’ and cause amusement for the listeners. Other tall tales are completely fictional tales set in a familiar setting, such as the European countryside, the American frontier, or the Canadian Northwest. The line between legends and tall tales is distinguished primarily by age; legends exaggerate the exploits of their heroes, but tall tales exaggerate an event to such an extent it becomes the focus of the story.

American tall tales

Tall tales are a fundamental element of American folk literature. The origins were seen in bragging contests by rough men of the frontier lands when they gathered together. Characters include, Davy Crockett, Pecos Bill, Casey Jones, Old Stormalong and Sally Ann Thunder – Ann Whirlwind.

 

Toastmasters International public speaking clubs do sometimes hold Tall Tales contests. Each speaker is given three to five minutes in which to tell a tall tale and is then judged according to several factors. The winner proceeds to the next level of competition.

Australian tall tales

The Australian frontier (known as the bush or the outback) has similar tales of the characters who lived mainly in isolation. The Australian versions concern a mythical station called  The Speewah and the characters who lived there, such as Big Bill, Crooked Mike and folklore hero, Charlie McKeahnie.

Canadian tall tales

The Canadian frontier has also inspired tall tales, such as Big Joe Mufferaw, Johnny Chinook and Sam McGee.

European tall tales

One enduring tall tale concerns the columnar basalt that makes up the Giant’s Causeway, which is said to have been made by Fionn mac Cumhaill. Other tales include Toell the Great, the Babin Republic, and Baron Munchausen.

 

Have you incorporated a tall tale into a story or novel?

Which tall tale is passed down through your family?

Genres of Literature – Autobiography


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Often written in narrative form an autobiography gives the history of a person’s life, written or told by that person.
The definition states: 
“he or she gives a vivid description of his or her childhood in their autobiography” Sub sections are memoirs, life story, or personal history.
It differentiates from the periodic self-reflective mode of journal or diary writing because it is a review of a life from a particular moment in time, rather than a diary entry, which although reflective moves through a series of moments in time. In other words an autobiography takes stock of the writers life by way of memory from the moment of the composition. A distinction on autobiography versus memoir is that a memoir is less focused on self and more on others.
The ‘life’ autobiography may focus on a subjective view of the person’s life, which in some cases can lead to misleading or incorrect information by way of the inability or unwillingness of the writer to recall memories accurately.
A ‘spiritual’ autobiography follows the writer’s journey towards God or other deity, which resulted from a conversion. It is a vehicle to endorse his or her new found religion.
A ‘fictional autobiography’ is a novel about a fictional character written as though the character were writing their own autobiography in first-person and reflecting on both internal and external experiences of their character.

An I-Novel is a Japanese literary genre used to describe a confessional type literature where the events related correspond to the author’s life. In many cases it exposed the darker side of society or the author’s own dark side.

A memoir differs from an autobiography as it focuses on more intimate memoirs, feelings and emotions, rather than the ‘life and times’ of a writer in a typical autobiography. For example, memoirs about politicians or military leaders glorify their public exploits.

Have you written or are you thinking of writing your autobiography?

Whose autobiography have you read that you enjoyed?

I still vividly remember reading The Dairy of A Young Girl (Anne Frank) at school. It is such a powerful and emotive book. Of course, I have read ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King several times (or more!)