1. aesthetic. Connected with the appreciation or criticism of the beautiful. Aesthetics is the branch of philosophy that explores the theory of the beautiful and the nature of art.
2. Aesthetic Movement, The. A movement during the 1890s in which sentimental archaism was adopted as the ideal of beauty. In his novel Mademoiselle de Maupin (1838), the French poet and novelist Theophile Gautier proclaimed that the only purpose of art was to be beautiful. The French Symbolist poets attempted to translate that principle into practice. In English literature, the best known proponent of this idea is Oscar Wilde, who in espousing "Art for Art's Sake,” claimed that art was independent of morality.
3. Age of Reason, The. The term applies in English literature to the Restoration and AUGUSTAN Periods, extending between the years 1660 and 1750. 'Augustan' is characterized by a sense of form, balance, proportion, by classical order and discipline. It implies self-knowledge, self-control, a sense of reality. These qualities were offset in society during this period by widespread self-indulgence and excess; by material greed; by spiritual lassitude. It was an age that produced the philosophy of Hobbes, the prose of Swift and Johnson, the poetry of Alexander Pope, and the artwork of Hogarth.
4. agon. (Greek, “contest” or “conflict”). In both COMEDY and TRAGEDY produced in classical Greece, it represents the external or inner conflict that leads up to the turning point in the play.
5. alienation. The sense of estrangement from society or the self as a central feature of modern life. In fiction, the alienated figures of Dostoevsky’s Underground Man (Notes from Underground, 1864), Camus’s The Stranger (1942), and Salinger’s Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye, 1951) are just a few of the many figures haunted by the shallowness and hypocrisy of modern life. One famous expression of this malaise can be found in Sartre’s play No Exit: “Hell is other people.”
6. allegory. A description of one thing under the guise of another suggestively similar. Very often, it's a story in which characters, animals, or situations are used symbolically. Famous examples include Aesop's Fables and George Orwell's Animal Farm.
7. alliteration. The close repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginnings of words (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers).
8. allusion. An indirect reference within a text to some person, place, or event outside the text. Such references usually involve characters and events of mythology, legends, religion, history, and literature. 'The face that launched a thousand ships' is an allusion to Helen of Troy.
9. ambiguity. (Latin, “driving both ways”). A word, phrase, or image whose meaning is unclear or which signifies more than one thing, like a pun or a double entendre. “Dark leaves,” for example could signify a tree’s leaves that are dark in color, or shady, or mysterious, or sinister; it could also mean the darkness is departing and might suggest nighttime, or a room without lamps, or a period of ignorance (like the so-called Dark Ages).
10. amphibrach. (Greek, “short at each end”). A metrical FOOT consisting of a stressed syllable surrounded by two unstressed syllables ( ). Words that are amphibrachic include alluring, deliver, and commotion. It is often found in the LIMERICK.
11. anapest. (Greek, “beaten back”). A metrical FOOT consisting of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable ( ). In English, anapestic METER often starts galloping and is hard to restrain, and it’s unusual to find a poem entirely in anapestic feet. Byron's "Destruction of Sennacherib" is a well-known poem in anapestic tetrameter (however, the –ian of Assyrian must be elided into one syllable):
The Assyr/ian came down / like the wolf / on the fold.
12. anaphora. A figure of repetition, wherein words or phrases are repeated at the beginning of successive verses or clauses. Here's an example from Keats' "Isabella":
And she forgot the stars, the moon, and the sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not.
Although anaphora can sound monotonous, mechanical, and artificial, it can also bind a group of words powerfully and memorably.
13. anastrophe. The inversion of natural word order, as in George Peele’s “His Golden lockes, Time hath to Silver turn’d,” which begins with the direct object; the natural order would be “Time hath turn’d his Golden lockes to Silver,” which would change the METER and lose the rhyme—serious defects in a poem written to be set to music.
14. anecdote. A brief account of a striking incident. Details of history hitherto unpublished.
15. Angry Young Men. A term applied to a group of English novels and plays in the 1950s that featured protagonists who responded with articulate rage to the malaise of the times. This phrase was originally the title of an autobiography published by Leslie Paul in 1951. The best-known example is perhaps Jimmy Porter, the angry, working-class ANTI-HERO of John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (1960). The author shows his hatred of outworn social and political attitudes, and strong reaction against "bourgeois" values.
16. angst. (German, “anxiety” or “anguish”). The anxiety-neurosis of the years following the Second World War expressed in the works of such writers as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.
17. annals. (Latin, annus, “year”). A narrative of events written year-by-year, generally historical records.
18. annotation. (Latin, annotare, “to mark”). The action of adding notes to a work or author, by way of explanation or comment. An annotated edition is one printed with comments by the author or an editor.
19. antagonist. (Greek, antagonistes, “a rival”). One who strives against another. The term is used for the character opposing the hero or PROTAGONIST in drama. Iago is the antagonist in Othello; Claudius is the antagonist in Hamlet.
20. anthology. Any collection of choice pieces of poetry or prose.
21. anticlimax. In fiction or drama, a falling off in intensity and interest following a serious high point. An anticlimactic effect may be achieved over the span of several pages or even several chapters. Anticlimax may be used intentionally, usually for comic effect, or it may be unintended, the result of the author’s ineptitude. When such an unintentional descent from the lofty to the trivial or even ridiculous occurs while the author is trying to achieve the sublime, the effect is known as BATHOS rather than anticlimax. The last ten chapters of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – chapters in which Huck arrives at Aunt Sally’s place, is joined by Tom Sawyer, and goes along with Tom’s ridiculously and needlessly elaborate plans to rescue Jim – are often said to be anticlimactic. In the following passage from Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits (1982), Clara’s anticlimac-tic response to her husband’s angry tirade reduces his fury to a pathetic and ineffectual effort to control her:
He shouted like a madman, pacing up and down the living room and slamming his
fist against the furniture, arguing that if Clara intended to follow in her mother’s
footsteps she was going to come face to face with a real man, who would pull her
pants down and give her a good spanking so she’d get it out of her damned head to
go around haranguing people, and that he categorically forbade her to go to prayer
meetings or any other kind and that he wasn’t some ninny whose wife could go
around making a fool of him. Clara let him scream his head off and bang on the
22. anti-hero. The principal character in a play or novel who exhibits qualities the opposite of those usually regarded as “heroic.” This character has proven to be a staple of modern literature. In Tradition and Dream, Walter Allen speaks of this term: "The anti-hero is indeed the other face of the hero.... He is consciously, even unconsciously graceless." Meursault from The Stranger is one.
23. antiphon. The verse of a psalm, or other traditional passage, intoned or sung by alternating choirs during Divine Office in the liturgy of the Catholic Church.
24. antistrophe. (Greek, “a turning back”). In ancient Greek Drama, the part of a chorus chanted on returning from left to right in reply to the strophe previously chanted when moving from right to left. This reply reproduces exactly the meter of the STROPHE.
25. antithesis. The choice or arrangement of words to emphasize the contrast and give the effect of balance. For example:
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
26. aphorism. A concise or pithy observation or statement of truth or doctrine. Here's an example from Oscar Wilde:
“The pure and simple truth is never pure, and rarely simple."
27. apocalypse. (Greek, apokalupsis, “unveiling”). The last book of the New Testament containing the revelation made to St. John on the island of Patmos. Generally speaking, it means any disclosure of the future.
28. apocrypha. (Greek, apokruphos, “hidden away”). Writings of uncertain or unknown authorship. Writings doubtfully attributed to certain authors (e.g., Chaucer and Shakespeare) are called "apocyphal." This term also applies to stories and anecdotes about, or attributed to, a particular person, though probably not genuine. The adjective that's applied to the authenticated work of any author is canonical.
29. Apollonian and Dionysian. In his Birth of Tragedy (1872) Frederick Nietzsche used these terms to show contrasting elements in ancient Greek tragedy. Apollo, the god of light and youth, stood for reason, culture, and moral excellence. Dionysus, the god of wine, represented the irrational, the frenzied, the undisciplined. Greek drama grew out of the dithyrambic choruses at the festival of Dionysus and the Apollonian dialogue. Dionysian has been associated with ROMANTICISM, Apollonian with CLASSICISM.
30. apology. (Greek, apologia, “defense”). A written work to defend or justify the writer's ideas or beliefs. In his Apology, Plato sets before us Socrates defending himself at his trial in a series of questions and answers. In the 18th century, apology came to be used loosely almost as a synonym for autobiography, without any suggestion of justifying or defending the writer's ideas or conduct.
31. apostrophe. (Greek, “turning away”). An exclamatory address to some person, thing, or personified abstraction, usually absent.
32. Arcadia. An idealized pastoral setting. A mountainous district in Greece taken as an ideal rustic paradise. In pastoral verse, Arcadia is the home of shepherds and shepherdesses living in simple innocence.
33. archaism. (Greek, archaios, “ancient”). The use of an old or obsolete word, idiom, or form. Coleridge uses many archaisms in his Rime of the Ancient Mariner:
He holds him with his skinny hand,
'There was a ship,' quoth he.
'Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.
34. archetype. The original pattern from which copies are made; a prototype. Writers use archetypal themes and images. For instance, the basic plot of the hero’s quest is a recurring pattern in myths and literature worldwide.
35. argot. A French term for jargon. Slang, originally that of thieves and vagabonds.
36. argument. (Latin, from the verb “to make clear”). The summary of a subject matter of a book or poem that it precedes. A brief outline of the plot of a literary work or of each part of it. Each book of John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost begins with a one-paragraph argument in prose.
37. aside. Words spoken in an undertone. In a theatrical production, words spoken by an actor whom the other persons on stage are supposed to not hear.
38. assonance. A common method of producing an emotional effect in poetry with a succession of dominant vowel sounds. Poe produces a melancholy effect in "The Raven" through the repetition of the O:
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on
Shall be lifted -- nevermore!
39. asyndeton. The omission of conjunctions between a series of clauses, as when Walt Whitman says,
All this I swallow, it tastes good, I like it well,
It becomes mine,
I am the man, I suffered, I was there.
This last line could be a pacifist’s version of Julius Caesar’s “I came, I saw, I conquered” (another example of asyndeton).
40. atmosphere. The general mood or feeling of a literary work. Atmosphere is presented by the setting, time, conditions under which the characters live. In Macbeth, the first appearance of the three witches establishes an atmosphere of danger and the foreboding of the supernatural, which runs throughout the play.
41. attitude. The attitude of a writer to his subject determines the particular tone of his work: he may be melancholy, satirical, enraged, optimistic, etc. In regard to certain forms of poetry, tone has been described as "the manner of reading compelled upon one."
42. aubade. (French, “dawn poem”). A poem in which lovers complain of the appearance of dawn, which requires them to part. The form achieved great popularity in medieval France and was employed by Chaucer and later by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet.
43. Aufklarung. (German, “enlightenment”). The great revival of art and letters, and the liberation of the human spirit brought on by the Renaissance in the 14th century and continuing during the 15th and 16th centuries. In Germany, the principal figures of the Aufklarung are Leibnitz, the philosopher and mathematician; Kant, the founder of modern thought; and Lessing, the leading representative of the intellectual ideals of the movement.
44. Augustan Age. A great classical period in the literary life of any nation. It is named after the emperor Augustus (27 B.C.- A.D. 14) in whose reign Virgil, Ovid, and Horace were famous. In England, the term is applied to the NEOCLASSICAL PERIOD during which Alexander Pope was in his heyday. In 1774, Horace Walpole wrote hopefully to Horace Mann:
"The next Augustan age will dawn on the other side of the
Atlantic. There will, perhaps, be a Thucydides at Boston, a
Xenephon at New York, and, in time, a Virgil at Mexico."
45. auxesis. The use of a more impressive word to exaggerate the importance of something, perhaps ironically, such as calling a shouting match a “brawl” or “riot”; it’s the opposite of MEIOSIS.
46. avant-garde. (French, the vanguard of an army). In literature, this military metaphor is applied to new writing showing innovations in style and matter. The words suggest an attack by progress-sive elements on the bastions of some presumed-to-be-reactionary Establishment. The term implies that true artists are ahead of their times, establishing new frontiers of thought and expression. Often an avant-garde’s criticism of prevailing forms of literature extends to criticism of society as a whole – as , for example, the Beat movement’s objection to American culture of the 1950s.
47. axiom. (Greek, axioma, that which is thought fit and worthy). In philosophy and mathematics, a self-evident proposition which needs no proof or demonstration.
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48. ballad. (Latin, ballare, “to dance”). Originally, a song accompanied by a dance. Later the name was applied to a narrative poem of folk origin, sung to their own accompaniment by the minstrels. Folk ballads, composed anonymously and passed down by word of mouth, were direct and simple, with romantic, historical, or supernatural setting. Of these true medieval ballads, well-known examples are "Chevy Chase," "Sir Patrick Spens," and "Edward." Literary ballads, on the other hand, are composed by known poets; some literary ballads may follow the narrative tradition of folk ballads while others depart from this to emphasize the emotions of the poet rather than a specific story line. Most ballads have a regular pattern of rhythm and rhyme and use simple language and REFRAINs as well as other forms of repetition.
49. ballad meter. A four-line stanza with alternating four-stress and three-stress lines (usually iambic) rhyming ABCB, or sometimes ABAB.
50. ballade. This verse form, derived from Old French poetry, consists of 3 stanzas (8-10 lines each) concluding with an ENVOY of 4 -5 lines. There can only be 3 or 4 rhymes throughout, in the same order in each stanza, and with the same line ending each stanza and the envoy. The envoy was often addressed to an important person and forms an invocation or dedication. The ballade form is exemplified in Austin Dobson's "Ballade to Queen Elizabeth." Here are the first stanza and the envoy:
And where are the galleons of Spain?
51. bard. A Celtic tribal singer, minstrel, poet, and chronicler. The word is still used as a synonym for Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon.
52. baroque. A term applied to the highly ornamental style of architecture that succeeded the style of the Renaissance. More significant in art and in music than in literature, baroque reached its culmination in 18th century France. A baroque literary style is exuberant and characterized by an excess or ornament. In music, the term is applied to the 17th century period dominated by J.S. Bach, Telemann, and Vivaldi.
53. bathos. (Greek, bathus, “deep”). The descent from the sublime to the ridiculous in writing or speech by an author who is striving for the noble and elevated. It’s an unsuccessful attempt to achieve PATHOS or the SUBLIME.
54. beatnik. Those members of the Beat Generation using unconventional dress, manners, and behavior as a way of social protest. An anti-academic school of poetry that sprang up in the fifties in New York’s Greenwich Village and in San Francisco; characterized by fast-paced, associative, free verse, a resemblance to jazz, a debt to Walt Whitman, a free-spirited attitude, and language that is irreverent and slangy. The word beat may mean “worn out” or “beatific,” or it may refer to a rhythmic beat, as in the pulse and improvisations of jazz. Novelist Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957) speaks for this group, as does poet Allen Ginsberg's Howl (1956).
55. belles-lettres. (French, “fine letters”). This term has been applied to polite or elegant literature. Its meaning is restricted to literary studies, essays, and treatises, as distinct from technical and scientific works.
56. Bildungsroman. (German, Bildung, “formation” & Roman, “novel”). Novel portraying a young person growing up or experiencing a period of intense personal development. Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye are notable examples. Other examples include Dickens’s David Copperfield and James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
57. blank verse. Unrhymed verse written in IAMBIC pentameter. Blank verse is flexible, not bound by recurring sound effects and structural webbing of rhyme. It is an effective form of talk and storytelling (the monologues of Robert Browning, for instance) and storytelling (the narratives of Robert Frost). Shakespeare uses it extensively in his plays.
58. blues. An African-American song form, derived from field hollers of slaves in the South. It can refer either loosely to a song about being blue, about loss and hard times, or more especially to a song in three-line blues form, in which the first two lines are roughly identical and the third line rhymes with them.
59. Bowdlerize. From the name of Dr. Thomas Bowdler, who published in 1818 an edition of Shakespeare intended for family reading. He expurgated everything which he considered indelicate or profane. The term now means to expurgate a text without very sound judgment.
60. broadside. A sheet of paper consisting of a single page printed on one side only; especially a popular ballad or tract so printed and sold in the streets, often as a vehicle for political agitation.
61. bucolic. (Greek, buokólos, “herdsman”). A term used to describe herdsmen and shepherds and pastoral settings. Virgil's pastoral poems are known as Bucolics, dealing mostly with country life.
62. burlesque. An imitation of a literary work designed to ridicule its speech, action, ideas, etc.
-- C -- 63. cadence. The rhythm of poetry and prose produced by the arrangement of stressed and unstressed syllables.
64. caesura. (Latin, caesum, “to cut off”). The break or pause between words within a metrical foot; a pause in a line of verse, generally near the middle. In SCANSION, it’s indicated by a double slash. An example can be seen in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18:
So long as men can breathe, // or eyes can see,
So long lives this, // and this gives life to thee.
Poets composing in iambic pentameter usually try to vary the place where the caesura occurs from line to line. There can be more than one caesura to a line. The absence of internal punctuation does not necessarily mean that there is no caesura.
65. canon. (Greek, kanon, “rule” or standard of excellence). The works of an author which are accepted as genuine, for example, the Shakespeare canon. Also, a list of saints canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.
66. canto. (Latin, cantus, “song”). A singing or chant section of a poem. A chief division of a long poem. Dante's Divina Commedia is divided into 100 cantos; Byron's Don Juan is organized in cantos.
67. caricature. In literature, a character so exaggerated or distorted as to appear ridiculous yet recognizable. Caricature usually serves a comic purpose, but the term is sometimes applied pejoratively by a critic to a character who seems one dimensional.
68. carpe diem. (Latin, “Enjoy the day”). This phrase was first used by the Roman poet Horace (65-8 B.C.). It has been applied ever since to the idea of taking advantage of the present moment. In literature, the term refers to a type of poetry in which the poet implores the beloved to seize pleasure rather than remain “coy.” Two outstanding 17th century examples of this are Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, To Make Most of Time” and Andrew Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress.”
69. catalectic. (Greek, katalektikós, “left off”). Applied to a metrical line which lacks one syllable in the last FOOT as in these lines from Shelley's "Music, When Soft Voices":
Music, / when soft / voices / die,
Vibrates / in the / memor / y --
70. catastrophe. In Greek tragedy, it is the change which produces the final event, corresponding to the play's FALLING ACTION.
71. catharsis. (Greek, katharsis, “cleansing, purgation”). In Greek tragedy, is the outlet to emotion produced by the pity and fear that the audience feel.
72. chain of being. A metaphor depicting all existence as an interlocking chain, a gradation of existence from the lowest to the highest. God was at one end of the chain, which extended down from above to the nine orders of angels, to human beings, to animals, to animate and inanimate objects, to nothing. The concept stretches back to Plato’s Republic; it was to be developed more extensively during the Middle Ages and the RENAISSANCE. It reached its culmination in the theory of the 18th century philosopher Leibnitz, who used this concept to support his notion that this is the best of all possible worlds, later satirized by Voltaire in Candide (1759). The most elegant expression of the Chain concept is in Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man (1734).
73. character. Characters can be classified as static, dynamic (sometimes called round), or flat. A dynamic character changes in some important way as a result of the story’s action. They have more dimensions to their personalities – they are complex, solid, and multifaceted, like real people. In contrast, a static character is a plausible portrayal of a person, but he does not change much in the course of the story. A flat character has only one or two personality traits, sometimes to represent a “type.” They are one-dimensional, and their personalities can be summed up in a single phrase.
74. characterization. The process by which the writer reveals the personality of a character. This can be done through several methods: (a) by directly telling what the character is like: humble, ambitious, etc. (b) by describing the character’s physical appearance and dress (c) by describing the character’s personal environment – dwelling, possessions, etc. (d) by what the character says to others (e) by revealing the character’s private thoughts and feelings (f) by the reactions of other characters to the individual in question (g) by the character’s actions. The first of these methods is known as direct characterization; it eliminates the need on the reader’s part to figure out what a character’s personality is like. The remaining five methods are known as indirect characterization. These require the exercise of judgment by the reader, the same judgment required in life itself.
75. choriamb. In SCANSION, it’s an occasional FOOT consisting of one stressed syllable, two unstressed syllables, and a final stressed syllable ( ).
76. classical. Pertaining to the ancient culture of Greece and Rome. The term is characterized by a sense of form, balance, and proportion. It implies self-knowledge, self-control, and an unfaltering sense of reality; also an adherence to externally imposed rules and canons. The Renaissance rediscovery of classical literature led to the development in the 17th and 18th centuries of NEOCLASSICISM – the conscious imitation of what were believed to be the forms of classical literature. Although classical may be usefully opposed to the word romantic, yet they are not mutually exclusive. The works of many writers, artists, and composers possess to some degree the qualities of both.
77. closed couplet. One that is grammatically or logically complete. Each line has a logical pause at the end, as in this closed couplet by Pope in "An Essay on Man":
Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be blessed.
78. comedy. In general, it’s a story that ends happily after a character overcomes a series of obstacles and is reconciled with his or her opponents in the end in a way which suggests harmony. As opposed to the elevated characters and tone of classical TRAGEDY, it deals with humorous, familiar events and the behavior of ordinary people, speaking the language of everyday life. Its purpose is to amuse, and the treatment of character often has touches of exaggeration and caricature (see FARCE). Comedy can have a serious purpose, as in the humorous satire of Aristophanes, and in the presentation by Chekhov of the universal predicament of sensitive, struggling people.
79. comic relief. A humorous scene in tragic drama or fiction that has the effect of temporarily halting the mood of the play and thereby relieving the tension. As employed by Shakespeare in the gravedigger’s scene in Hamlet, the drunken porter episode in Macbeth, and the commentary of the Fool in King Lear, comedy intensifies the tragedy by permitting us to see the tragic action from an alternate point of view. Another form of comic relief occurs in the ironic juxtaposition of the comic and the tragic.
80. conceit. A particularly fanciful metaphor. The conceit was frequently used in Elizabethan poetry, and became a characteristic of John Donne and other METAPHYSICAL poets of the 17th century.
81. Concrete poetry. A modern term for “pattern poetry,” a type of poetry that has existed since the time of the ancient Greeks . A pattern, or concrete, poem is meant to be perceived as a visual object and is at least as notable for its graphic design as for its verbal meaning. Thus, concrete poems are not meant simply to be read; in fact, they cannot be read at all in the way we think of reading. Such poems rarely employ conventional sentence structure and are often made up of a single word or phrase, parts of which may be repeated, strategically placed on the page, or otherwise graphically highlighted. A poem about a fish may be shaped like a fish; a poem about motion might place the letters in the word motion in a wavy pattern on the page. Following is a concrete poem by e. e. cummings written in 1958:
The poem characterizes loneliness by visually depicting the slow downward flutter of a single leaf in the phrase “(a / le / af / fa / ll / s).”
82. confessional poetry. Works by American poets of the mid-twentieth century that uses personal and private details from their own lives, material once considered too embarrassing to discuss publicly. Includes the work of Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, and John Berryman.
83. connotation. DENOTATION is the dictionary meaning of a word. Connotation is the implication of something more than the accepted or primary meaning.
84. consonance. The recurrence of same or similar consonant sounds in poetry. Consonance is used along with ASSONANCE and ALLITERATION as a sound effect. In the first stanza of "Kubla Khan," Coleridge emphasizes the rapid movement of water through the repetition of the r sound:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
85. convention. A literary device, style, usage, situation, or form so widely employed that it has become accepted and even expected by knowledgeable readers or audiences.
86. couplet. Two consecutive lines of verse rhyming together, usually in the same METER.
A two-line stanza.
87. courtly love. An attitude toward love, and a corresponding code of behavior, reflected in medieval lyric poetry and romances. In both its social and literary guises, courtly love came to exert an extraordinary influence throughout Western Europe. A representative model of courtly love is the male lover, a young knight such as Lancelot or Tristan, who vows total obedience to his lady, usually a married lady, whom he idolizes. This passion for an unattainable ideal throws the lover into emotional torments which he transcends by noble deeds done in his lady’s name. Courtly love had a powerful influence on the literature of the Renaissance and on 19th century ROMANTICISM. Courtly love represented the first expression of the belief that sexuality is the consequence, not the cause, of love, and that sexual love is a noble passion that enhances and enriches the lives of those who experience it.
88. crisis. The decisive moment in a play or story when a situation is dangerous and a decision must be made. Several crises may occur, leading to a climax.
89. cubism. A style in art in which objects are so presented as to give the effect of a collection of geometrical figures and shapes.
90. cynics. Originally a group of philosophers of 5th century B.C. Greece, who identified the strength of the individual will and the virtue of self-control as the ultimate good. In their emphasis on individualism, the cynics set themselves up against the accepted beliefs of their society, particularly the belief in the essential goodness of human beings. A famous APOCRAPHAL story relates the travels on foot of the cynic Diogenes, who walked the length and breadth of Greece with a lantern looking for one honest man (he never found him).