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Glossary of Literary Theory
A mode of analyzing literature that focuses on aspects of form rather
than aspects of content and that may be used to determine the distinctive
features of a literary work, an author, or a particular literary period.
Al the phonological level, such analysis concerns itself with sound patterns,
rhyme, meter, assonance, alliteration, euphony, and so forth. At the syntactic
level, it concerns itself with sentence structure, grammatical kinds of
sentences (simple, compound, complex, compound-complex), rhetorical kinds
of sentences (loose, periodic, balanced, antithetical), functional kinds
of sentences (statement, question, command, exclamation), sentence length,
sentence openers (subject, expletive, coordinating conjunction, adverb
word. conjunctive phrase, prepositional phrase, verbal phrase, adjective
phrase. absolute phrase, adverb clause, front-shift), means of articulating
sentences (coherence devices, transitional expressions), and the like.
At the lexical level, it concerns itself with diction (general or specific,
abstract or concrete, formal or informal, polysyllabic or monosyllabic,
common or technical, referential or emotive, denotative or connotative).
At the rhetorical level it concerns itself with iterative imagery and figures
of speech (metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, irony, and personification,
among other things). Stylistics often has scientific pretensions and may
involve the amassing of reams of quantitative data. (See also Linguistics
and literary theory.)
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