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Literary Meaning

Literary Meaning

The term "literary," of course, is related to literature. Both words derive from the Latin root literariness, meaning "letters." Literary meaning is the deeper understanding of a work of literature, sometimes involving complex subtext that uncovers an author's intention. Understanding and explaining literary meaning is the primary reason behind literary criticism.

What are examples of Literary Meaning

The literary meaning of any particular work of fiction often relies on any number of different devices, such as the following:

  • Literary voice
  • Literary mood
  • Juxtaposition
  • Ambiguity
  • Cliche
  • Foreshadowing
  • Theme

These devices not only propel plot, but also underpin the entire meaning of a work. Voice, for example, is the style of an author, one that is distinctive.

Literary meaning does not necessarily mean literary complexity. While a novel such as The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner can seem a labyrinthine effort, the symbolism and complexity of plotting reveal a text with deep literary meaning. Faulkner's contemporary, Ernest Hemingway was a far less complex writer, but his works, including The Sun Also Rises, are still replete with literary meaning. These are both examples of novels with complex literary meaning, yet written with vastly different voices. Readers familiar with both authors can immediately recognize that voice, as distinctive as any other quality in their work.

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Literary Meaning Research Papers

Literary Meaning research papers delve into the deeper understanding of a work of literature that sometimes involves complex subtext that uncovers an author’s intention. Elements of literary meaning are voice, mood, juxtaposition and more.

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