Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Literary Device Post

The former English major part of me is openly standing and cheering this week's prompt at The Blue Bookcase's Literary Blog Hop. The question: What are your favorite literary devices?

I have two. And, not coincidentally, they also happen to be two of my favorite words. Let me a drop a little juxtaposition and synecdoche on y'all. 

I remember learning about juxtaposition in a Shakespeare class in college. Apparently, Billy S. was the original DJ Juxtapositioner. After I learned what it meant, and that it could apply to many, many real-life situations outside of literature, I never missed (and still try not to) an opportunity to use it. It's fun. "Wow, today's weather is quite a juxtaposition to yesterday's, eh?" or "The floral hints in this chardonnay nicely juxtapose the boldness of flavor in these chicken wings." Anyway, having just read Eric Larson's In The Garden of Beasts, juxtaposition has been fresh in my mind. It was even the lead for the review. I also used it as a headline here. In fact, it could probably be argued successfully that I overuse that term. But that's a discussion for another time.

And so, also in the category of fun: Just saying the word "synecdoche." But I also like it as a literary device for its capacity to illustrate with brevity. An example: In Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace is describing one of Jim's crazy films and uses the phrase "camera as audience-synecdoche." Got it? It means a part standing in for the whole. Now that know you understand, can you spot the two examples of synecdoche in this made-up sentence: "I'ma cruise out in my new wheels on Sat. night and find me a real nice piece'o'ass, y'all."  By the way, have you ever seen Charlie Kaufman's film Synecdoche, New York? Good God. I love that PS Hoffman fellow, but that movie nearly drove me mad. I was not a fan. At all. But that's a discussion for another time.

(PS. My blog is the process of transition from its blogspot URL to its own domain. So, pardon my dust, vis-à-vis any irregularities in redirection to the right page, or goofs in page elements. Cheers!)

Literary Blog Hop


  1. sweet. I'm a huge fan of juxtaposition myself. I think my husband gets annoyed because I use that word all the time...
    p.s. I bought In the Garden of Beasts and I'm going to start reading it this weekend!

  2. Hmmm, I think it's easier to work juxtaposition into conversations than synecdoche, but it is more fun to say synecdoche. I'll have to see where I can work it in this week...

  3. Oooh wow synecdoche. Great word and I will be trying to use it as much as possible. Juxtaposition is also one of my favourite words and I like to use it in reference to accountancy standards (in my work). In fact I find that accountancy juxtaposes beautifully with absurd words.

  4. Synecdoche is one of my favorite words to say as well. I like to teach it when I do figurative language just so I can say it.

    Garden of Beasts looks really good.

    Check out my post for this hop here.

  5. @Ingrid - You should just tell him that the juxtaposition between you and him as that you like to sound intelligent, and he, well.....

    @Susan - Definitely easier to work in juxtaposition, but more fun to say synecdoche - agreed!

    @readingfuelledbytea - Excellent use of juxtaposition, there - love it! Do you get a lot of blank stares from other accountants?

    @LBC - Nice - any excuse to say that word is a good one! Yes, Garden of Beasts IS really good.

  6. great call & also love certain that I like to drop in, when & where I can, favourite at the moment is discombobulate.

    PS. I also used a reference to old Billy Waggledagger in my post.

  7. I like juxtaposition, though I find it's a bit of a mouthful to use in simple sentences! I usually use it when writing a literary piece or something.:D

    As for er...syne? I'd never heard of it till now. And I'm not sure I've quite got it yet. I need to go look up a few more examples...

  8. I was quite irritated with Synecdoche, NY myself until I watched it again with a group of students. Individually, they found it totally frustrating, but as a group, they came to the most coherent sense of the film I could possibly imagine. (Much more coherent than my sense of it on a first viewing.) Unfortunately, I've since forgotten their explanation. I'll just have to teach it again, I s'ppose.

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  10. I enjoyed reading these posts. Synecdoche is great, but the ones I love to ease into conversations are zuegma and chiasmus. Have fun with those!