A posteriori

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ARAGON: The fire seven times tried this;
Seven times tried that judgment is
That did never choose amiss
Some there be that shadows kiss
There be fools alive iwis,
Silvered o'er, and so was this.
Take what wife you will to bed
I will ever be your head.
So be gone; you are sped. (2.9.62-71)

MONOSYLLABIC: Having only one syllable.

MOOD (from Anglo-Saxon, mod "heart" or "spirit"): (1) In literature, a feeling, emotional state, or disposition of mind--especially the predominating atmosphere or tone of a literary work. Most pieces of literature have a prevailing mood, but shifts in this prevailing mood may function as a counterpoint, provide comic relief, or echo the changing events in the plot. The term mood is often used synonymously with atmosphere and ambiance. Students and critics who wish to discuss mood in their essays should be able to point to specific diction, description, setting, and characterization to illustrate what sets the mood. (2) In grammar, an aspect of verbs. Click here for more information on grammatical mood.

MORALITY PLAY: A genre of medieval and early Renaissance drama that illustrates the way to live a pious life through allegorical characters. The characters tend to be personified abstractions of vices and virtues. For instance, characters named Mercy and Conscience might work together to stop Shame and Lust from stealing Mr. Poorman's most valuable possession, a box of gold labeled Salvation. Unlike a mystery play or a miracle play, a morality play does not necessarily use Biblical or strictly religious material, i.e., the morality play usually does not contain specific characters found in the Bible, such as saints or the disciples or Old Testament figures. Unlike the miracle play, which depicts astonishing and moving miraculous events believed to have occurred literally to specific historical figures in specific settings, the morality play takes place internally and psychologically in every human being. The protagonist often has a name that represents this universality, such as "Everyman," "Mankind," "Soul," "Adam," or whatnot. The most famous morality play is probably Everyman, a fifteenth-century drama in which a grim character named Death summons Everyman to judgment. On his way to meet Death, Everyman discovers that all his old buddies are abandoning him except one. His friend Good Deeds is the only one that will accompany him to meet Death, while Beauty, Fellowship, Kindred, Knowledge, and Strength fall by the wayside on his journey. Other famous examples include The Castle of Perseverance and Mankind. Contrast with mystery play and miracle play.

MORPHEME: Linguistically, the smallest collection of sounds or letters in a spoken or written word that has semiotic importance or significance--a unit of meaning that cannot be divided into tinier units of meaning. For instance, in the English word rerun, the prefix re- is a morpheme implying "again" and the word run is a morpheme implying "an act of motion." If we try to cut the prefix re- into smaller collections of sounds (/r/ and /I/ phonetically), these sounds no longer have meaning attached to them, and they are no longer morphemes. Likewise, the morpheme run cannot be further subdivided into meaningful morphemes. Note that morphemes can be either free or bound. Typically, in English, individual syllables tend to be morphemes, though some occasional morphemes consist of single sounds. Contrast with grapheme and phoneme.

MORPHOLOGY: The part of a language concerned with the structure of morphemes and how these morphemes combine. Linguists use this term in contrast with syntax.

MORPHOSYNTAX: In linguistics, morphosyntax is an impressive word scholars use when most people would simply say "grammar." It is the study of how parts of a sentence relate to each other.

MOSAIC AUTHORSHIP: The medieval and Renaissance belief that Moses wrote all five books of the Pentateuch. Click here for more discussion.

MOTIF: A conspicuous recurring element, such as a type of incident, a device, a reference, or verbal formula, which appears frequently in works of literature. For instance, the "loathly lady" who turns out to be a beautiful princess is a common motif in folklore, and the man fatally bewitched by a fairy lady is a common folkloric motif appearing in Keats' "La Belle Dame sans Merci." In medieval Latin lyrics, the "Ubi sunt?" [where are . . .?] motif is common, in which a speaker mourns the lost past by repeatedly asking, what happened to the good-old days? ("Where are the snows of yesteryear?" asks Francois Villon.) The motif of the "beheading game" is common in Celtic myth, and so on. Frequently, critics use the word motif interchangeably with theme and leit-motif. See also folkloric motif.

MULTICULTURAL NOVEL: As Robert Harris defines the term in his glossary, a multicultural novel is

A novel written by a member of or about a cultural minority group, giving insight into non-Western or non-dominant cultural experiences and values, either in the United States or abroad. Examples:

• Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart
• Amy Tan, The Kitchen God's Wife
• Forrest Carter, The Education of Little Tree
• Margaret Craven, I Heard the Owl Call My Name
• James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain
• Chaim Potok, The Chosen
• Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Penitent
Alice Walker, The Color Purple. (Harris)

MULTICULTURALISM: In literature, multiculturalism is the belief that literary studies should include writings, poetry, folklore, and plays from a number of different cultures rather than focus on Western European civilization alone. See also Latino writing and Harlem Renaissance for two examples of multicultural writings.

MUSES, THE NINE: The nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who had the power to inspire artists, poets, singers, and writers. They are listed below along with their spheres of influence:

  • Calliope (epic poetry)

  • Clio (history)

  • Euterpe (lyric poetry)

  • Melpomene (tragedy)

  • Terpsichore (choral dance)

  • Erato (love poetry)

  • Polyhymnia (hymns and sacred poems)

  • Urania (astronomy)

  • Thalia (comedy)

MUSE, INVOCATION OF: See invocation of the muse.

MUSIC OF THE SPHERES: In medieval and Renaissance Europe, many scholars believed in a beautiful song created by the movement of the heavenly bodies (sun, moon, and planets). The music of spheres supposedly was infinitely beautiful, but humans were unable to hear it, either (a) because of their sinful separation from God, or (b) because they were so used to its presence, their minds automatically filtered it out as background noise.

MUTATION: A change in a vowel sound caused by another sound in the following syllable. In Old English and in Celtic languages like Irish Gaelic and Welsh, the type of mutation called i-mutation was especially common. Another common type is the eclipsis mutation, a mutation in which a basic consonant sound is "eclipsed" or replaced by a stronger sound in a preceding word. For a chart of the most common Irish mutations as examples, click here.

MYSTERY CULT: Unlike the official "public cults" dedicated to the Olympian gods in ancient Greece and Rome, a number of religious practices involved chthonic deities (like Demeter) and imported foreign gods (Ishtar, Osiris, Mithras, etc.). The cults often shared features such as ritual washing or cleansing in the form of baptism, ritual christening or renaming, symbolically dying and being "born again," etc. Possibly some may have offered the hope of an afterlife through metempsychosis (unlike standard Greek and Roman belief which emphasized a gloomy stay in the underworld). Others--in the case of Dionysian worshippers--ritually "slew" the god and ate him or drank his blood symbolically in the form of wine. Regardless of specific varying details, these mystery cults shared a common element of secrecy--a distinction between the uninitiated outsider and the initiated cult member. The cult rituals were held to be so sacred that it was blasphemous to reveal them to outsiders, even to speak of them, describe them, or write them down in any way. The rites were often held in inaccessible areas far from the local city--on mountain-tops or sea-shores or in catacombs. Some, like the mystery cult of Demeter, were open to any prospective members regardless of race, gender, or nationality as long as they spoke sufficient Greek to participate in the rituals. Others were open to certain professions, such as the cult of Mithras which only allowed soldiers to join after an initial baptism in bull's blood. Others were restricted by family (such as local versions of the Lykian wolf cult) or partly restricted by gender (such as the maenads of Dionysus).

MYSTERY CYCLE: A collection of mystery plays in a single manuscript meant to be performed sequentially. See discusion under mystery play, below.

MYSTERY NOVEL: A novel focused on suspense and solving a mystery--especially a murder, theft, kidnapping, or some other crime. The protagonist faces inexplicable events, threats, assaults, and unknown forces or antagonists. Conventionally, the hero is a keenly observant individual (such as Sherlock Holmes) and the police are depicted as incompetent or incapable of solving the crime by themselves. Many of the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, and Agatha Christie are mystery novels. Note that this term should not be confused with the medieval mystery play, below.

MYSTERY PLAY: A religious play performed outdoors in the medieval period that enacts an event from the Bible, such as the story of Adam and Eve, Noah's flood, the crucifixion, and so on. Although the origins are uncertain, Mary Marshall and other early scholars like E. K. Chambers (author of The Medieval Stage, 1903) suggested that the plays developed out of the Latin liturgy of the church, in particular out of the Quem Quaeritis trope of Easter Day festivals. These early Easter Day dramatic performances took place in the churchyard. Later, these plays gradually became secular and used vernacular languages rather than Latin, and they gradually moved out of the churchyard and ecclesiastical control, becoming outdoor performances controlled by the craftsmen in each city, according to this theory. Other scholars such as V. A. Kolve refute this idea, however.

In any case, we do know that these religious plays were staged and performed by secular audiences. Typically, the various guilds in each city (such as the Carpenters' Guild, the Butchers' Guild, and so on) would sponsor and perform one play during the Corpus Christi festival, competing with each other for the most elaborate performance. Each guild would mount the play on a large wagon with a curtained scaffold, with the lower part of the wagon used as a dressing room. Between forty and fifty of these wagons (one for each guild) would move from spot to spot in the city, so that spectators could watch several performances in a single day. The plays often involved elaborate representations of heaven and hell, mechanical devices to create "special effects," and lavish costuming. The dramatizations became increasingly elaborate, and they show signs of developing psychological realism. The use of mystery in the name may originate in either the idea of spiritual mysteries, which were the focus of each play, or it may result from the Latin word misterium (a guild). The mystery plays were an important precursor to the miracle plays and morality plays (see above) in medieval drama, and they set the stage for the flowering of Renaissance drama that was to come with Shakespeare. Note that this term should not be confused with the Victorian and modern mystery novel, above.

MYSTIC WRITERS: See discussion under mystics, below.

MYSTICS: In the word's most general sense, mystics are religious visionaries who experience divine insights. In medieval scholarship, the term "mystics" or "mystic writers" is often used as a collective term for a group of late fourteenth-century and early fifteenth-century eremites in England who wrote mystical works in Middle English and Latin. These include the anchoress Julian of Norwich, who wrote The Book of Showings; the illiterate mystic Margery Kempe, who dictated her autobiography The Book of Margery Kempe to two scribes; Richard Rolle, the author of "Love is Love that Lasts for Aye"; and the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing. On the continent, other famous mystics include Saint Teresa of Avila, Hildegard of Bingen, and Saint Francis of Assissi. The mystic writers are marked by the use of vivid (and sometimes confusing) imagery, intense emotional pathos (in the case of Margery Kempe), paradox (in the case of Richard Rolle), and an intense desire to verbalize what is largely a nonverbal experience (in the case of nearly every mystic). Mystics--regardless of religious background--are often marked by an experience in which they perceive the universe as a unity or in which they feel a sense of being one with the divine. We see signs of this tendency in Julian of Norwich's vision of Christ's blood, which transforms into raindrops falling from the side of a roof and then in turn transforms into the scales on a herring, as if God's physical form were embodied in the entire universe.

In a more general sense, the author of the book of Revelation in the Bible (commonly attributed to John of Patmos), and the poetry of William Blake are said to be visionary or mystical in nature, though scholars usually do not place them in the same category as the medieval mystics. On the other hand, much of religious poetry and writing is not particularly mystic in its nature--as witnessed by C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters or the poetry of Milton and Gerard Manley Hopkins, all three of which are profoundly religious, but which do not necessarily represent a struggle to verbalize an intense religious vision in the same manner as a mystic writer.

MYTH: While common English usage often equates "myth" with "falsehood," scholars use the term slightly differently. A myth is a traditional tale of deep cultural significance to a people in terms of etiology, eschatology, ritual practice, or models of appropriate and inappropriate behavior. The myth often (but not always) deals with gods, supernatural beings, or ancestral heroes. The culture creating or retelling the myth may or may not believe that the myth refers to literal or factual events, but it values the mythic narrative regardless of its historical authenticity for its (conscious or unconscious) insights into the human condition. See also folklore, legend, mythography, mythos, and mythology.

MYTHOGRAPHY: The commentary, writings, and interpretations added to myths. Medieval writers, such as the four anonymous scribes collectively called the "Vatican Mythographers," would take Greek and Roman myths and write elaborate Christianized allegories to explain the meaning of the text. Another example of medieval mythography is the Ovid moralisée, a retelling of Ovid's Metamorphoses in which French scribes interpret the legends as Christological commentary on the New Testament.

MYTHOLOGY: A system of stories about the gods, often explicitly religious in nature, that possibly were once believed to be true by a specific cultural group, but may no longer be believed as literally true by their descendents. Like religions everywhere, mythology often provided etiological and eschatological narratives (see above) to help explain why the world works the way it does, to provide a rationale for customs and observances, to establish set rituals for sacred ceremonies, and to predict what happens to individuals after death. If the protagonist is a normal human rather than a supernatural being, the traditional story is usually called a legend rather than a myth. If the story concerns supernatural beings who are not deities, but rather spirits, ghosts, fairies, and other creatures, it is usually called a folktale or fairy tale rather than a myth (see folklore, below). Samples of myths appear in the writings of Homer, Virgil, and Ovid.

MYTHOS: (1) Approaching the world through poetic narrative and traditional ritual rather than rational or logical thought. (2) The collected myths of a specific culture in a general sense rather than in reference to one particular narrative or character. For instance, we might refer specifically to the myth of Hercules fighting the Hydra, the myth of Kali drinking demons' blood, or the myth of the giant Ullikummis, but we would more generally say these tales belong to the Greek mythos, the Hindu mythos, or the Hittite mythos, respectively. Cf. mythology.

N-PLURAL: The plural form of a few modern English weak nouns derives from the n-stem declension or n-plural of Anglo-Saxon (Old English). Examples include the masculine Old English oxa (which gives us the modern singular ox and the plural oxen), and the feminine word tunge (which gives us the modern word tongue). In the case of tongue, however, the plural form tungen has been superseded by the pattern of a-stem words.

N-STEM: A declension of Old English nouns. This stem was common in Old English, though its declension pattern was still less common than the a-stems. It is marked by an /n/ in many forms.

NAM-SHUB: (1) An incantation, chant, poem, or speech thought to have magical power in Sumerian texts. The most famous example is the nam-shub of Enki, in which Enki creates a nam-shub that causes others to lose the ability to speak, and which may be a source for the later Hebrew legend of the Tower of Babel. In the cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson uses the nam-shub as a dangerous meme (i.e., an idea or pattern of thought that "replicates" by being passed along from one thinker to another). He re-interprets the Sumerian myth of Enki by imagining that the Chomskyian deep structure of the brain can be reprogrammed with different capacities for language, i.e., that humans once shared a common and innate agglutinative language, but lacked individual consciousness. A priest or scribe named Enki creates a nam-shub that re-writes the linguistic wiring of those who read it in cuneiform (or hear it spoken aloud), causing them to lose the ability to understand language. This fictional nam-shub creates in the victim the capacity for individual, conscious language, but also destroys the individual's access to universal language.

NARRATION, NARRATIVE: Narration is the act of telling a sequence of events, often in chronological order. Alternatively, the term refers to any story, whether in prose or verse, involving events, characters, and what the characters say and do. A narrative is likewise the story or account itself. Some narrations are reportorial and historical, such as biographies, autobiographies, news stories, and historical accounts. In narrative fiction common to literature, the narrative is usually creative and imaginative rather than strictly factual, as evidenced in fairy tales, legends, novels, novelettes, short stories, and so on. However, the fact that a fictional narrative is an imaginary construct does not necessarily mean it isn't concerned with imparting some sort of truth to the reader, as evidenced in exempla, fables, anecdotes, and other sorts of narrative. The narrative can begin ab ovo (from the start and work its way to the conclusion), or it can begin in medias res (in the middle of the action, then recount earlier events by the character's dialogue, memories, or flashbacks). See exemplum and fable.

NARRATOR: The "voice" that speaks or tells a story. Some stories are written in a first-person point of view, in which the narrator's voice is that of the point-of-view character. For instance, in The Adventures of Huck Finn, the narrator's voice is the voice of the main character, Huck Finn. It is clear that the historical author, Mark Twain, is creating a fictional voice to be the narrator and tell the story--complete with incorrect grammar, colloquialisms, and youthful perspective. In other stories, such as those told in the third-person point of view, scholars use the term narrator to describe the authorial voice set forth, the voice "telling the story to us." For instance, Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist presents a narrative in which the storyteller stands outside the action described. He is not a character who interacts with other characters in terms of plot. However, this fictionalized storyteller occasionally intrudes upon the story to offer commentary to the reader, make suggestions, or render a judgment about what takes place in the tale. It is tempting to equate the words and sentiments of such a narrator with the opinions of the historical author himself. However, it is often more useful to separate this authorial voice from the voice of the historical author. For further discussion, see authorial voice, unreliable narrator, and point of view.

NARRATOR, UNRELIABLE: An unreliable narrator is a storyteller who "misses the point" of the events or things he describes in a story, who plainly misinterprets the motives or actions of characters, or who fails to see the connections between events in the story. The author herself, of course, must plainly understand the connections, because she presents the material to the readers in such a way that readers can see what the narrator overlooks. This device is sometimes used for purposes of irony or humor. See discussion under authorial voice.

NARROW TRANSCRIPTION: In linguistics, phonetic transcription that shows minute details, i.e., highly accurate transcription. The opposite term, broad transcription, implies quickly made or comparative transcriptions designed primarily to illustrate general pronunciation. Most dictionaries use some form of broad transcription.

NASAL: In linguistics, any sound that involves movement of air through the nose.

NATIVE LANGUAGE: The first language or the preferred language of any particular speaker.

NATURAL GENDER: The assignment of nouns to grammatical categories based on the gender or lack of gender in the signified object or creature. This term contrasts with grammatical gender, in which the designations are more or less arbitrary and do not correspond closely with any gender in the signified object or creature.

NATURALISM: A literary movement seeking to depict life as accurately as possible, without artificial distortions of emotion, idealism, and literary convention. The school of thought is a product of post-Darwinian biology in the nineteenth century. It asserts that human beings exist entirely in the order of nature. Human beings do not have souls or any mode of participating in a religious or spiritual world beyond the biological realm of nature, and any such attempts to engage in a religious or spiritual world are acts of self-delusion and wish-fulfillment. Humanity is thus a higher order animal whose character and behavior are, as M. H. Abrams summarizes, entirely determined by two kinds of forces, hereditary and environment. The individual's compulsive instincts toward sexuality, hunger, and accumulation of goods are inherited via genetic compulsion and the social and economic forces surrounding his or her upbringing.

Naturalistic writers--including Zola, Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, and Theodore Dreiser--try to present their subjects with scientific objectivity. They often choose characters based on strong animal drives who are "victims both of glandular secretions within and of sociological pressures without" (Abrams 175). Typically, naturalist writers avoid explicit emotional commentary in favor of medical frankness about bodily functions and biological activities that would be almost unmentionable during earlier literary movements like transcendentalism, Romanticism, and mainstream Victorian literature. The end of the naturalistic novel is usually unpleasant or unhappy, perhaps even "tragic," though not in the cathartic sense Aristotle, Sophocles, or Elizabethan writers would have understood by the term tragedy. Naturalists emphasize the smallness of humanity in the universe; they remind readers of the immensity, power, and cruelty of the natural world, which does not care whether humanity lives or dies. Examples of this include Stephen Crane's "The Open Boat," which pits a crew of shipwrecked survivors in a raft against starvation, dehydration, and sharks in the middle of the ocean, and Jack London's "To Build a Fire," which reveals the inability of a Californian transplant to survive outside of his "natural" environment as he freezes to death in the Alaskan wilderness.

Naturalism is a precursor to realism that partially overlaps with it. Realism, this subsequent literary movement, also emphasizes depicting life as accurately as possible without distortion.

NEAR RHYME: Another term for inexact rhyme or slant rhyme.

NEBULA AWARD: An annual award given by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Association (SFFWA) for the best science fiction or fantasy work published during the previous two years. The categories include novel, novella, novelette, short story, and script. Notable winners include Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, William Gibson, Connie Willis, Theodore Sturgeon, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Ursula LeGuin. As of 2007, the author to win the most Nebula Awards was Joe Haldeman (four total), including one for his noteworthy allegory of Vietnam veterans' disillusionment, The Forever War. Typically, the Nebula carries no cash award, but editors and scholars consider it more prestigious than the similar Hugo Award.

NEOCLASSIC: An adjective referring to the Enlightenment. See Enlightenment for further discussion, or click here for a PDF handout that places the Neoclassic period in chronological order with other intellectual movements.

NEOCLASSICISM: The movement toward classical architecture, literature, drama, and design that took place during the Restoration and Enlightenment. See Enlightenment for further discussion about its influence in literature.

NEOCLASSIC COUPLET: See discussion under heroic couplet.

NEO-LATIN: Latin forms or words (especially scientific ones) invented after the medieval period, as opposed to classical or medieval Latin as a naturally occurring language.

NEOLOGISM: A made-up word that is not a part of normal, everyday vocabulary. Often Shakespeare invented new words in his place for artistic reasons. For instance, "I hold her as a thing enskied." The word enskied implies that the girl should be placed in the heavens. Other Shakespearean examples include climature (a mix between climate and temperature) and abyssm (a blend between abyss and chasm), and compounded verbs like outface or un-king. Contrast with kenning. Occasionally, the neologism is so useful it becomes a part of common usage, such as the word new-fangled that Chaucer invented in the 1300s. A neologism may be considered either a rhetorical scheme or a rhetorical trope, depending upon whose scholarly definition the reader trusts. See compounding, infixation, epenthesis, proparalepsis, and prosthesis.

NEPHILIM (probably derived from Hebrew napal, "to fall"): In ancient Hebrew tradition, the Nephilim (singular Naphil) were a race of giants referred to in Genesis 6:4 ("Now giants were upon the earth in those days") and in Numbers 13:33 ("We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.") In Genesis, they are called the children of the sons of God and human women, and they are referred to as "heroes of old" and "men of renown." The text of Numbers describes them as a race of giants that once inhabited Canaan, so these Nephilim were thought to live at the time of Moses, which contrasts with the Genesis text in which the deluge exterminates the entire race of Nephilim. Biblical scholars think that the clash between the two texts is the result of a dual oral tradition--though at least one Hebrew legend describes a Naphil surviving the Biblical deluge by virtue of being so tall his head remained above the water. The Nephilim seem to be related to the Rephaim (Numbers 13:33 and Deuteronomy 2:11). In later times, medieval tradition often much more closely linked the "sons of God" appearing in Genesis and Job and the race of Anak mentioned in Numbers. Cf. Rephaim.

NEW COMEDY: The Greek comedy the developed circa 300 BCE, stressing romantic entanglements, wit, and unexpected twists of plot.

NEW ENGLAND SHORT O: In linguistics, this term refers to "the lax vowel used by some New Englanders in road and home corresponding to tense [o] in standard English" (Algeo 324).

NIGER-KORDEFANIAN: A group of languages spoken in the southern part of Africa. This family of languages apparantly has no relation to those in the Indo-European family.

NILO-SAHARAN: A group of languages spoken in the central sections of Africa. This family of languages apparantly has no relation to those in the Indo-European family.

NOBLE SAVAGE: Typically, the depiction of Amerindians, indigenous African tribesmen, and Australian bushmen results in two sharply opposing stereotypes as follows: (1) When "civilized" races dwell in close proximity to these "savages," they may feel threatened--sometimes with good reason--if the tribe is cannibalistic, warlike, or competes for local resources. In such situations, literature almost always depicts the race as inferior to the civilized race and dangerously superstitious, violent, lazy, or irrational. An example would be the depiction of Indians in Hawthorne's stories--satanic skulkers on the outskirts of good Puritan homes. (2) If the writer is only passing through an area rather than competing for resources, or if the writer lives some safe distance away, the second and opposing tendency is for him or her to romanticize the alien culture, accenting its positives and projecting his or her cultural desires on the other. This second stereotype, a literary motif, depicts exotic, primitive, or uncivilized races and characters as being innately good, dignified, and noble, living harmoniously with nature. They are thought to be uncorrupted by the morally weakening and physically debilitating effects of decadent society. The motif goes back as far as the Christian tales of Adam and Eve--the idea that innocent living in lush wilderness is equivalent to existing in a state of Edenic goodness. Montaigne develops the idea in his essay Of Cannibals, as does Aphra Behn in Oroonoko: or, The Royal Slave (c. 1688). However, it is in the time of the Enlightenment that the Noble Savage truly becomes a center of attention. Rousseau writes in Emile (1762), "Everything is well when it comes fresh from the hands of God," but he adds, "everything degenerates in the hands of Man." The idea was also popular in Chateaubriand's work, in Dryden's Conquest of Granada, and especially in the writings of the Romantic poets. We see early hints of it in Alexander Pope's An Essay on Man (Epistle I, lines 99-112), but Pope remains contemptuous of the native's "untutored mind," even as he admires tha native's state of contentment with nature.

NOM DE GUERRE (French, "name of war"): Another term for a nom de plume or a pen name. See nom de plume or pen name.

NOM DE PLUME (French, "name of the pen"): Another term for a pen name. The word indicates a fictitious name that a writer employs to conceal his or her identity. For example, Samuel Clemens used the nom de plume "Mark Twain." William Sydney Porter wrote his short stories under the nom de plume of "O. Henry." Mary Ann Cross used the name "George Eliot" to hide that she was a female writer, just as science-fiction writer Alice Bradley Sheldon used the nom de plume "James Tiptree, Junior." Francois-Marie Arouet used "Voltaire." Ben Franklin used a variety of literary aliases, and so on. One caveat: although the phrase "nom de plume" is French, the French do not use this particular phrase to describe a literary pseudonym. What we call a nom de plume, the French would call a nom de guerre.

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