Tag Archives: literature

Genres of Literature – School Story


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The school story generally centers on older pre-adolescent and adolescent school life in the first half of the twentieth century. Other narratives do exist in other countries, but the most common theme is English boy or girl boarding schools reflecting the single-sex education typical until the 1950s. The focus is on friendship, honor and loyalty between pupils with plots involving sports events, bullies, secrets, rivalry and bravery.

The popularity declined after the Second World War, but remained popular in other forms, changing the focus to state run coeducational schools, and more modern concerns such as racial issues, family life, sexuality and drugs. The genre’s revival was due to the success of the Harry Potter series, with its many plot motifs.

The first boarding school story was The Governess, or The Little Female Academy by Sarah Fielding, published in 1749. A moralistic tale relaying the lives of nine girls in the school established aspects of the boarding school story repeated in later works. Fielding’s approach was imitated and used by both her contemporaries and other writers into the 19th century.

Even though children were not generally targeted until well into the nineteenth century, due to the concern of moral effects of novels on young minds, and so published narratives tended to lean towards moral instruction. The genre’s peak period was between the 1880s and the end of the Second World War, later comics featuring school stories became popular in the 1930s.

School stories do remain popular, with their shifting focus on more contemporary issues such as sexuality, racism, drugs and family difficulties. As we all know the Harry Potter series has revived the genre significantly, despite it’s fantasy conventions.

Do you (or did you) read school story novels/comics?

Have you written one?

Genres of Literature – Mathematical Fiction


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Mathematical fiction is a genre of creative fictional work, where mathematics and mathematicians play important roles. It is defined as any work “containing mathematics or mathematicians” but the form and the medium of the work is not important as it can still be treated as mathematical fiction. This genre can be in the form of short stories, novels or plays; comic books; films, videos, or audios.

The oldest extant work of mathematical fiction is The Birds, a comedy by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes, which was performed in 414 BC. One of the earliest, more modern works in this genre is Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by schoolmaster, Edwin Abbott Abbott in 1884.

The genre of mathematical fiction may have existed since ancient times, but was only recently rediscovered as a genre of literature. It has become a growing body of literature  attracting a growing body of readers. For example, Abbot’s Flatland spawned a sequel in the 21st century: a novel titled Flatterland by Ian Stewart and published in 2001.

The genre is not seen as a ‘popular’ one, however there are numerous novels, short stories etc. that are under this genre. Take a look at the Goodreads list, I think you will be surprised. https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/math-fiction

Have you used math in any of your stories?

Have you read any of the books on the list?

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 – Grotesque


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The Grotesque is often linked with satire and tragicomedy, in which the author conveys grief and pain to the audience. The term was first used to denote a literary genre with Montaigne’s Essays. Many of the earliest written texts described grotesque happenings and monstrous creatures within mythology, which was of course a rich source of monsters. Examples, such as the one-eyed Cyclops from Hesiod’s Theogony or Polyphemus in Homer’s Odyssey and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where we find grotesque transformations and hybrid creatures of myth. 

This genre was a departure from the classical models of order, reason, harmony, balance and form, opening up an entry into grotesque worlds. British literature abounds with native grotesquerie, from the strange worlds of Spenser’s allegory in The Faerie Queene, to the tragi-comic modes of 16th-century drama. 

Occasionally, literary works of mixed genre are termed grotesque, such as “low” or non-literary genres such as pantomime and farce. Gothic writings often have grotesque components such as character, style and location while other describe the environment as grotesque. Examples being urban (Charles Dickens), or American south literature,  termed as “Southern Gothic”. Other grotesque uses have been social and cultural formations, such as the carnival(-esque) in François Rabelais and Mikhail Bakhtin. Or in satirical writings of the 18th century, such as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.

Thereby fictional characters are considered grotesque if they induce both empathy and disgust by way of physically deformity or mental deficiency, but also if the character has cringe-worthy social traits. In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the figure of Caliban inspired more nuanced reactions than simple scorn and disgust. Also, in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the character of Gollum may be considered to have both disgusting and empathetic qualities, which fit him into the grotesque template.

One of the most celebrated grotesques in literature is Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and of course Dr. Frankenstein’s monster can also be considered a grotesque, although he is presented more sympathetically as the outsider who is the victim of society’s alienation as they describe him as  ‘the creature.’

There are also examples of grotesque literature during the nineteenth-century, however the grotesque body was displaced by the notion of congenital deformity or medical anomaly.  And more in terms of deformity and disability, especially after the First World War, 1914-18. The growth of prosthetic’s created themes of half-mechanical men and became an important theme in dadaist work.

You may be surprise to know that Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is deemed grotesque literature due to the many fantastic grotesque figures she meets. However, Carroll managed to make the figures seem less frightful and fit for children’s literature.

Were any of these surprising to you?

Have you written grotesque fiction?

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Genres of Literature – Graphic Novels


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The definition of a graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. However, the term is not strictly defined, though Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition is “a fictional story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book”, while its simplest definition is given as “cartoon drawings that tell a story and are published as a book”

Obviously, some will say these are not ‘novels’ in the traditional sense at all. One such author, Alan Moore believed: “It’s a marketing term…that I never had any sympathy with. The term ‘comic’ does just as well for me…The problem is that ‘graphic novel’ just came to mean ‘expensive comic book’ and so what you’d get is people like DC Comics or Marvel Comics – because ‘graphic novels’ were getting some attention, they’d stick six issues under a glossy cover and called it graphic novel under the action hero’s name.

However, the term ‘graphic novel’ is broadly applied to include non-fiction, anthologized and fiction works and is distinguished from the term ‘comic book’, as this refers to comic periodicals. 

Richard Kyle, a fan historian coined the term ‘graphic novel’ in 1964 and the term gained popularity in the comic community from 1978 and especially with the start of the Marvel graphic novel line in 1982. The book industry began using ‘graphic novel’ as a book shelf category in 2001. Most comics historians agree that the first real ‘graphic novel’ was Will Eisner’s A Contract With God and Other Tenement Stories published in 1978. Decidedly adult in its images, themes, and language, Eisner’s book spoke to the generation that had first grown up with superhero comics in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

I found a fascinating link regarding the history of graphic novels. Take a look: http://libguides.marymede.vic.edu.au/graphic_novels/history