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Glossary of Literary Terms
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metaphysical poetry poetic term A type of poetry which is intellectually complex and which uses unconventional imagery and highly developed conceits. Holy Sonnet 14 by John Donne
meter poetic term The rhythmic pattern produced when words are arranged so that their stressed and unstressed syllables fall into a more or less regular sequence.
metonymy figurative language A figure of speech in which one word is substituted for another with which it is closely associated. The White House announced the name of the person to be the next Secretary of the Treasury (White House is a substitution for the President of the US).
miracle or morality play genre A medieval drama in verse that took its subject matter from biblical history or the lives of the saints. Everyman, a fifteenth-century play
mise en abyme, mise en abime literary device

A literary technique in which a story contains a smaller copy of itself, the sequence appearing to one or more times. Mise en abîme occurs when a text contains a reduplication of images or concepts referring to the textual whole.

Mise en abyme is a French term meaning "placed into abyss." It describes the visual experience of standing between two mirrors, seeing an infinite reproduction of one's own image. The expression originates from a practice in French heraldry in which the image of a small shield is placed on the image of a larger shield.

See also: backstory, flashback, story within a story, frame story

monody poetic term An elegy uttered by a single person Thyrsis, A Monody by Matthew Arnold
monometer poetic term A line of verse consisting of one metric foot. "Thus I / Pass by / And die," from Upon His Departure Hence by Robert Herrick
motif literary device A recurring concept in a work of literature.
motivation literary term The psychological grounds for a characters behavior.
mystery fiction genre A novel or short story which is focused on a crime and on a detective who is working to solve the crime by following clues that the reader can also use to deduce the solution. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
narrative literary term A story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious; a book, literary work, etc., containing such a story; the art, technique, or process of narrating. Somerset Maugham's stories are masterful narratives. Poe's The Raven is a poetic narrative.
narrator literary device The voice of the person telling the story.
naturalism literary style A literary style which attempts to replicate reality, often emphasizing the uncouth or sordid aspects of life. McTeague by Frank Norris
neoclassic period A period in which writers looked back to the ideals and forms of the classic period of Greece and Rome. Alexander Pope is a neoclassic writer.
nom de plume, pen name literary term A pseudonym used by an author.

Nom de plume is French for pen name.

novel form A fictional prose narrative of considerable length and complexity in which the actions, speech, and thoughts of the characters serve to unfold the plot; usually over 50,000 words. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
novel of manners genre A novel focusing on and describing in detail the social customs and habits of a particular social group. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
novelette form A brief novel or long short story.
novella form A fictional account longer than a short story and shorter than a novel; usually between 20,000 and 50,000 words. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
octameter poetic term A line of verse consisting of eight metric feet. "Love| took up| the glass| of Time,| and turn'd| it in| his glow| ing hands;" from Locksley Hall by Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson

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