Canon

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on March 17, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 165

Canon - a standard of judgment or a criterion. It is also an approved list of books belonging in the Christian Bible, in addition to being the accepted list of any given order, and the list of books accepted as Scripture. The term is increasingly used to refer to those works of literature that have come to be considered standard in any anthology or course of study. In addition, it refers to the works of an author which are accepted as genuine, such as the Chaucer Canon.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Guide to Literary Terms Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The term is derived from the Middle French canon, which was adapted from the Italian cannone, meaning “large tube.” This definition evolved from the Latin canna, which meant “cane or reed.” Common usage eventually led to the term being defined as a straight rod or bar, a carpenter’s rule, or a standard of excellence. Greek authors were known as kanones or “models of excellence.”

Melville’s canon consists of Moby-Dick and Billy Budd.


Explore all literary terms.


Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-hour free trial
Previous

Bombast

Next

Canto

Explore Study Guides