Literary Glossary: M

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Magical Realism

A style of literature where fantastical and magical elements are melded within a realistic narrative. These magical elements are explained like normal occurrences using matter-of-fact tone which allows the "fantastic" to be accepted along with “the real” in the same stream of thought.

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Metaphor

A comparison between two seemingly unrelated things, such as the following example from Langston Hughes’ "Dreams":

Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

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Medieval

A period of time between the 5th century to the 16th century AD; also known as the Middle Ages.

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Meter


A series stressed and unstressed syllables arranged in patterns called feet. Iambic pentameter, for example, is a line with five feet, each of which has one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable, as with this line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130:
    My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

The primary types of feet are:

Iambic - unstressed, stressed
Trochaic - stressed, unstressed
Anapestic - unstressed, unstressed, stressed
Dactylic - stressed, unstressed, unstressed

Metrical lines (the number of feet in a line) are named as follows:

One foot: Monometer
Two feet: Dimeter
Three feet: Trimeter
Four feet: Tetrameter
Five feet: Pentameter
Six feet: Hexameter
Seven feet: Heptameter
Eight feet: Octameter

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Modernism

A cultural and artistic movement after World War I characterized by disillusionment with the past and a rampant desire to, in the words of Ezra Pound, "make it new."

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Mythology

A collection of traditional narratives that are passed down through various textual and visual sources and that convey commonly held beliefs in a particular society about natural phenomena, historical events, and proper behavior.

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