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What is form, structure and language?I was recently told to consider Literature in...

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davidmc | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 23, 2010 at 6:17 PM via web

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What is form, structure and language?

I was recently told to consider Literature in relation to form, structure & language, though I'm not entirely sure how this works. I mean, without wanting to make it too formulaic, does it mean the following:

- form is type of writing (novel/play etc), how it satisfies the genre, narrative voice

- structure is how the the writer maniuplates the raw components. so things like time, chronology, point of view.

- language is the vocabulary and how it influences people in the novel & the audience

Could someone confirm/rectify the above please?

 

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James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted December 24, 2010 at 6:05 AM (Answer #1)

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You seem to have a very solid understanding of the terms “form,” “structure,” and “language.”

When talking about the general type or tradition of writing that a particular work belongs to (novel, play, etc.), we often use the term "genre." Definitions of the term “genre” often use the word "form" as if it were nearly synonymous with "genre." The dictionary.com link below, for example, gives the following definition of genre: "a class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular form, content, technique, or the like: the genre of epic poetry; the genre of symphonic music." (my emphasis)

"Structure" in a novel or short story, as you write, could indeed include chronology and point of view. In a poem there are often other structural elements to consider, such as meter and rhyme.

Your definition of "language" is probably the least developed of the three definitions that you give. I think that “language” may be synonymous with both “diction” and with what John Crowe Ransom and some of the other New Critics sometimes referred to as “local texture” – the distinctiveness in a literary work that is lost when, for example, we simply paraphrase the content of a poem that we have read in everyday language. You may find the two enotes links below on “diction” to be helpful in further developing this third definition.

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