Week 36: Essential Literary Terms

Essential Literary Terms, by Sharon Hamilton

Hamilton has written a truly useful book that I wish I'd had when I went off to college. This is a "Norton Guide" and includes exercises, so a high-school student (or anyone else) could work through it as a mini-course in literary terminology. The book is divided into sections such as "Narrative Forms," "Figurative Language," and so on, and contains short explanatory pieces on all the terms you could want to know about--along with literary excerpts to illustrate concepts. It's very readable, not too long or bloated with unnecessary verbiage, and quite clear and helpful.

Anyone heading off to college and preparing to take any literature courses should take this along. It would be great for an older high-school student to use as a reference. And if you're out of school but want to know something about literary analysis, this is a good resource.


  1. I well remember sitting in a sophomore lit crit class when another student used the term "catharsis". Obviously everyone else in the room knew what it meant, and I didn't have a clue.

    Wish I'd had that book.


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