Mode (literature)  

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In literature, a mode is an employed method or approach, identifiable within a written work. As descriptive terms, 'form' and/or 'genre' are often used inaccurately instead of 'mode' (for example; the pastoral mode is often mistakenly referred to as a 'genre'). The term 'mode' refers more to the attitude or intention of a writer when producing a work, than to the categorisation of a finished product.

According to The Writers Web, A List of Important Literary Terms, the term 'mode' can be described in the following way:

"An unspecific critical term usually identifying a broad but identifiable literary method, mood, or manner that is not tied exclusively to a particular form or genre. [Some] examples are the satiric mode, the ironic, the comic, the pastoral, and the didactic." (CB)

To expand on the above definition; several genre's or forms may be covered in a written work that is nevertheless attributable to a single mode. For example, literature written in the comic mode may include elements of both the comedy and drama genre's.

History of mode

In his Poetics, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle uses 'mode' in a more specific sense. Kinds of 'poetry' (the term includes drama, flute music, and lyre music for Aristotle), he writes, may be differentiated in three ways: according to their medium of imitation, according to their objects of imitation, and according to their mode or 'manner' of imitation (section I). "For the medium being the same, and the objects the same, the poet may imitate by narration—in which case he can either take another personality as Homer does, or speak in his own person, unchanged—or he may present all his characters as living and moving before us" (section III). According to this definition, 'narrative' and 'dramatic' are modes of fiction:

"This is not merely a technical distinction but constitutes, rather, one of the cardinal principles of a poetics of the drama as opposed to one of narrative fiction. The distinction is, indeed, implicit in Aristotle's differentiation of representational modes, namely diegesis (narrative description) versus mimesis (direct imitation). It has, as we shall see, important consequences for both the logic and the language of the drama." (Elam (1980, 111))




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Mode (literature)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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