Thursday 7 July 2011

Literary Blog Hop, July 7-10

Literary Blog Hop
It's a Literary Blog Hop week! Um, yay! Even though I am slightly scared by this week's question, I am going to attempt to answer it as best I can. Please be kind.

What is one of your favourite literary devices? Why do you like it? Provide a definition and an awesome example.

Do I really have a favourite literary device? Did I, in fact, even remember what a literary device was until I started reading everyone elses answers to this question? I'd have to say, that's a bit of a no. The only question I can really answer yes to right now is 'are you currently looking up literary devices on Wikipedia and trying to find one that you a) recognise, and b) like?' I'm going to say, though, that I really like foreshadowing when it turns up in a text.

Foreshadowing, which I'm sure you know because it's been used in numerous books, movies, plays and so on; and is a pretty effective technique, is where there are clues and markers throughout a story that something bad is going to happen at the end, and things keep building up and building up until the bad thing finally happens, and it's almost a relief when it does. The best example of this I can think of is in The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, where there is a constant ominous feeling as you're reading that something bad is going to/already has happened, and yet you're not quite sure what it is, or how bad it is until very near the end. This makes reading this book a really stressful experience, but ultimately a rewarding one, since it's completely and utterly excellent, and the best thing to read in a sultry summer heat.

There are plenty of other books that use foreshadowing to excellent effect, including To Kill a Mockingbird (the thing with the rabid dog and Atticus being the only one to stand up to it? Awesome), Of Mice and Men, and I'm pretty sure that Donna Tartt (author of The Little Friend and The Secret History) is the Queen of foreshadowing- those books both just build up the smallest details to culminate in awful acts or revelations that change everything. I've actually just realised that I might have just been describing building up tension rather than just foreshadowing (which I've just remembered/possibly researched a little bit more) is something slightly more subtle than just tension building. So you should probably just ignore everything I've just said! Other than the goodness of these books, which should never be ignored, and which you should probably definitely read, if only to tell me that I'm a moron and there's actually no foreshadowing in them at all!

Well, that was a bit of a fail. But I definitely look forward to reading everyone else's responses to the question, because they might actually know what they're talking about! 


  1. Nice. Have you ever heard of sideshadowing? It's kind of like foreshadowing, except it doesn't hint at what will happen in the future, but alludes to all the possibilities that could happen in a given moment. It's awesome.

    Thanks for joining the Hop!

  2. I think foreshadowing was one of my early favorite devices. I remember being able to identify it pretty well. Great when it is done well, but it can be clumsy in amateur hands.

    Check out my post here.

  3. I'm with you. I felt I had to borrow my kids' English notes to refresh my memory for what qualifies as a literary device. I don't think enough about how the author is doing what he does as he crafts the novel -- I just think about how the book works or doesn't work for me. But going back to these techniques is a good way of thinking about what the novelist is doing or trying to do.

  4. @Susan- I definitely look at the novel as a whole rather than looking at the separate little devices, mainly because I think they're a lot more interesting for their stories as a whole rather than the separate little things that make them up. But then there is some merit in those too. I just prefer the blog hops that are about more generalised parts of novels than the little languagey bits!

  5. Hmmm, but isn't foreshadowing part of building up the tension? In you example of Of Mice and Men, there are a few episodes that foreshadow the ending I think...

  6. excellent - foreshadowing! I like your comment about foreshadowing in a book stressing you out, I'd never really thought of it that way but it kind of takes advantage of the emotions you'd invested in the book... or something like that haha.

  7. @IngridLola- Sideshadowing, what an awesome concept.

  8. No, no, no. Not a fail at all. Very nicely written. Thank you for this little essay.

    (I must admit that I did a little Google-ing before writing my essay as well....Literary devices? Yes, I think that was covered in English, but Heavens to Betsy that was a long time ago!)

    Here's my attempt to pick my favorite literary device. Also, I'd like to invite you to throw your name into the hat for a $25 Amazon gift certificate in Readerbuzz's July Giveaway!It's international!

  9. as a device it has to be subtle, otherwise it's like pantomime, but shouting out IT'S in Front of You!.

  10. I chose the same thing - I love when a book can create that depth of feeling in the reader and then make it pay off.

  11. Oh! I chose foreshadowing too! It's a device I really love! Foreshadowing and Parallelism...:)