Literary Glossary: T–Z

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Tanka (Japanese form)

The traditional tanka is a poem of 31 on (sound symbol or unit) which expresses a personal response to an image in nature. In Japan, a tanka consists of 31 on, usually patterned as 5-7-5-7-7.

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Time

A sequence of events or sounds. Time can carry various meanings in a literary context, both formally and thematically. In poetry, time can be linked to meter, and the pacing of the poem can offer various enhancements to interpretation. In narratives (novels, short stories, and so forth), time can be manipulated in various ways through techniques like foreshadowing, retrospection (such as a framed narrative, in which the narrator recalls past events and relates them to the reader), and so on.

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Tragedy

A story that ends in misfortune or disaster for the main character. In classic Greek drama, tragedy is the opposite of comedy.

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Transcendentalism

American literary movement that believed in transcending the materialistic world of sensory experience and becoming conscious of the spirit of the universe, which could be found by looking into one's own soul.

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Utopia

A society real or imagined thought to exemplify the ideal and operate in a state of perfection

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Voice

The speaker in a narrative or poem. Often conflated with point-of-view, although there are occasions when who "speaks" (voice) and who "sees" (point-of-view or focalization) are not always the same.

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Victorian

The term used to delineate the literature, art, and culture during the reign of Queen Victoria during the latter two-thirds of the 19th century. Born in 1819, she ascended to the throne in 1837 and reigned until her death in 1901.

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Villanelle

A verse form consisting of nineteen lines divided into six stanzas -- five tercets (three-line stanzas) and one quatrain (four-line stanza). The first and third lines of the first tercet rhyme, and this rhyme is repeated through each of the next four tercets and in the last two lines of the concluding quatrain. The villanelle is also known for its repetition of selected lines. A good example of a twentieth-century villanelle is Dylan Thomas’s "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night."

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