Recent additions to the Literary Lexicon

epiclets– James Joyce termed his stories in Dubliners as epic lets, or short narrative pieces, Colleen Jaurretche examines this in text, Beckett, Joyce, and the Art of the Narrative.

fourth wall– originally a theatrical term referencing the imaginary and invisible wall between the stage and the audience as an extension of the proscenium above the stage. This wall reinforces the suspension of disbelief audiences must have in order to believe they are witnessing a slice of reality.  Denis Diderot emphasized this concept in regards to realism which highlighted the boundary between audience and players. The fourth wall is broken when a character or actor addresses the audience, and the fictional work recognizes its own meta-fictional existence.

heteronym– words with identical spellings but that carry different meanings. Fernando Pessoa, a writer and poet from Portugal, expanded on this concept and invented the literary notion where one or more fictional characters use varying writing styles. Heteronyms, in this sense, differ from pseudonyms, which are stand ins for the writer, whereas heteronyms hail from various backgrounds, carry different biographies and physiques. Syma Tarig in his article “Fernando Pessoa and the multiple faces we show on the net” published in The Guardian on December 4, 2005 writes:

25,000 pages of manuscript discovered after he died were writings by nearly 80 people, or “heteronyms“, created in Pessoa’s lifetime. These were literary alter egos that all had differing views on the big subjects: life, death, modern tedium; and the conflict between rational thought and human emotions.Each heteronym was given a biography, psychology, politics, religion, even physical description, and the main characters were interconnected.

kunstlërroman– part of the Bildungsroman genre, specifically concerning an artist’s maturation in light of bourgeois values and expectations. Joyce’s Portrait of An Artist is the classic example of such a narrative as well as Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and Miguel Syjuco’s recent work, Ilustrado.


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