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allegory

A story, poem, or picture which can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one. The word comes (in late Middle English) via Old French and Latin from ...

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World Encyclopedia

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004
Subject:
Encyclopedias
Length:
42 words

... Literary work in either prose or verse in which more than one level of meaning is expressed simultaneously. The fables of Aesop and La Fontaine are examples of simple allegory. Pilgrim's Progress ( 1684 ) by John Bunyan is a sophisticated religious allegory...

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A Dictionary of Critical Theory (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2018

...the most part, allegories are creative rewritings or reimaginings of a pre-existing text such as the Bible, but as Fredric Jameson shows in The Political Unconscious ( 1981 ), history itself can be used as a prior text for the purpose of constructing allegory (in his later work he develops a notion of national allegory to describe artworks that use the nation itself as their prior text). Allegory is important to the work of Northrop Frye , Paul de Man , and Walter Benjamin , all of whom devise multilayered models of allegory. Allegory should be...

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The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Art & Architecture
Length:
91 words

... The representation of an abstract quality or idea through a series of symbols or persons given symbolic meaning. Allegories were particularly popular in Renaissance and Baroque art. For example, Rubens's famous Allegory of War and Peace (National Gallery, London) of 1629–30 , the political sub-text of which was the desired peace between England and Spain, is enacted by Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, driving away Mars, God of War, in order to protect the fulsome figure of Pax (Peace)....

Allegory

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Itay Sapir

Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2014
Subject:
Art & Architecture, Philosophy
Length:
3,339 words

...of allegory. Critics have often exposed the authors of the most virulent attacks on allegory as themselves using allegorical language for that very attack. In this spirit, de Man concentrates on a proto-Romantic, the French Jean-Jacques Rousseau, while Kelley shows how the English Romantics themselves were responsible for allegory’s survival in modern culture, in spite of their ostensible dismissal of the term “allegory” itself, and of the kind of allegory that Enlightenment culture tended to produce. Kelley ( 1997 ) describes Romantic allegory as...

Allegory

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The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2003
Subject:
Religion
Length:
151 words

... A narrative expressing abstract ideas as concrete symbols; a description of a topic or subject under the guise of another which is suggestive of it, an extended comparative metaphor. There is often little distinction between an allegory, a parable , a simile, or a metaphor. In Judaism, the Song of Songs has been interpreted allegorically, as a description of the relationship between God and his people. Allegory is also to be found in Talmudic and kabbalistic literature. It was especially prominent in Philo , who regarded allegory as ‘the rules...

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The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2014
Subject:
Religion
Length:
171 words

... . In Christian exegesis, one of the traditional ways of interpreting the Bible in contrast to the literal or historical sense. The Greek word comes from ancient literary theory and is defined as ‘speaking one thing and signifying something other than what is said’. From the first, Christians applied allegory to the OT to make it yield a Christian meaning. St Paul used the term (Gal. 4: 24) to point to the relationship between the old Israel and the Church. Origen , who is regarded as the great exponent of allegory, distinguished a threefold literal,...

allegory

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Ronald W. Vince

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Theatre and Performance

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
Performing arts, Theatre
Length:
148 words

... As an attribute of an artistic work, allegory is a form of extended metaphor in which objects and characters denote meanings beyond the confines of the fiction, usually by presenting abstract ideas in terms of concrete images (although political allegory refers to real persons). In drama, the metaphor takes the form of personification of the idea, a character's allegorical significance indicated by labelling, conventional emblem, or behaviour. Allegorical interpretation is based on the assumption that true meaning lies beneath the fictive surface....

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A Dictionary of Critical Theory

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010

...part allegories are creative re-writings or re-imaginings of a pre-existing text such as the Bible. But as Fredric Jameson shows in The Political Unconscious ( 1981 ), history itself can be used as a prior text for the purpose of constructing allegory. In his later work he develops a notion of national allegory to describe artworks that use the nation itself as their prior text. Allegory is important to the work of Northrop Frye and Walter Benjamin , both of whom devise multi-layered models of allegory. Further Reading: M. Warner Monuments and...

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The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015

... A story or visual image with a second distinct meaning partially hidden behind its literal or visible meaning. The principal technique of allegory is personification , whereby abstract qualities are given human shape—as in public statues of Liberty or Justice. An allegory may be conceived as a metaphor that is extended into a structured system. In written narrative, allegory involves a continuous parallel between two (or more) levels of meaning in a story, so that its persons and events correspond to their equivalents in a system of ideas or a chain...

allegory

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The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art and Architecture (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Art & Architecture, Religion
Length:
187 words

...interpretation of the OT as prefiguring the NT was common from S. Augustine onwards, throughout the Middle Ages—e.g. the Song of Solomon (AV Song of Songs, Vg. Canticle of Canticles) is an allegory of Christ's love for the Church, His bride. Allegory differs from symbolism in that symbols are real things—a cross, or a lamb, symbolize Christ—while allegories may be of entirely invented examples. See also exegesis...

allegory

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The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2011
Subject:
Literature, Classical studies
Length:
465 words

... In literature the presentation or interpretation of a subject in terms of another subject which suggestively resembles it. Allegory had a long history in classical literature. (The Greek word allēgoria , ‘figurative language’ in a wide sense, is post-classical.) Fables ( see Aesop ) are a form of allegory, and one of the earliest, the fable of the hawk and the nightingale, appears in Hesiod's Works and Days . As a device of literary interpretation in Greece it flourished in the late fifth century bc , when Prodicus composed his famous Choice of...

allegory

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An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2009

...Poetry’ as ‘Allegory address'd to the Intellectual powers’; yet in A Vision of the Last Judgment he maintains that ‘Fable or Allegory are a totally distinct & inferior kind of Poetry’ not to be confused with ‘Vision or Imagination.’ His own poetry establishes a remarkable pantheon of allegorical figures. Poems such as Percy *Shelley 's Prometheus Unbound and *Keats 's Endymion are allegories in a fairly straightforward sense; while recent accounts of the period note a tendency toward allegory in Romantic figuration. In Romantic allegory, the literal...

Allegory

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The Oxford Companion to the English Language (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2018

...Allegory . A story, such as George orwell ’s Animal Farm ( 1945 ), that can be read on two levels: as a surface narrative that may or may not be realistic and at a deeper level that is often didactic and moralistic, and sometimes satirical. Characters and episodes are intended to represent some elements in human life: Orwell’s farm is a nation state and his pigs are Marxist revolutionaries. Allegory may occur in any genre, does not constitute a literary form, and is in effect an extended metaphor . See analogy . ...

Allegory

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Encyclopedia of Rhetoric

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2006
Subject:
Language reference, Linguistics
Length:
1,916 words

...but run the risk of being uninteresting; pure allegories may be more charming but are in danger of becoming obscure. If a point of reference cannot be established by a recipient, the allegory assumes the nature of an enigma. Quintilian, therefore, formulates the following restriction: “When, however, an allegory is too obscure, we call it a riddle: such riddles are, in my opinion, to be regarded as blemishes, in view of the fact that lucidity is a virtue” (8.6.52). Allegory and Allegoresis. Whereas allegory refers to the process of encoding meaning,...

Allegory

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The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Early history (500 CE to 1500)
Length:
754 words

... (ἀλληγορία) in Byz. was used in the sphere of both literature and theology. Literary Allegory Theological Allegory Literary Allegory In antiquity, literary allegory was understood as a trope whose goal was the expression of a concept that differed from the literal sense of the words but was connected with them by similarity or contrast. Allegory remained an important vehicle of Byz. literature: thus, the image of the castle in Palaiologan texts served the function of both romantic adventure and didactic allegory (C. Cupane, JÖB 27 [ 1978 ] 264). In...

Allegory

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The Oxford Companion to Italian Literature

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
Literature
Length:
721 words

...allegory as a way of interpreting and not just as a way of writing, one which explored the other meanings present beneath the ‘letter’, the literal level, of any text. Allegory was thus both a rhetorical device and an exegetical method. Repeating well-established hermeneutic notions, at the beginning of the second book of the Convivio Dante defined poetic allegory as ‘truth hidden beneath a beautiful lie’ (‘une veritade ascosa, sotto bella menzogna’), referring to a text's moral sense. He further distinguished poetic allegory from theological allegory, in...

allegory

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The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Literature
Length:
133 words

... A kind of narrative or description that carries partially veiled meanings behind its actions and cast of characters. George Orwell's fable Animal Farm , in which dialogue between animals covertly echoes contemporary political conflicts, is a well‐known modern example. Allegorical works can be understood as systematically extended metaphors , typically employing personification of abstract qualities. Allegorical writing flourished especially in the later Middle Ages, in such works as Piers Plowman and the morality play Everyman ; notable later works...

allegory

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Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
History, Early history (500 CE to 1500)
Length:
1,550 words
Illustration(s):
1

... Starting from definitions inherited from ancient Rhetoric , the Church Fathers elucidated a properly theological conception of allegory. At the same time, following the example of late antique poetry, the writers of the Middle Ages composed works that we call allegorical. Rhetoric bequeathed two definitions. One, very general, could apply to any trope: “Allegory is saying-something-else [ Allegoria est alieniloquium ]; we hear one thing and understand another” ( Isidore of Seville , Etym. , 1, 37, 22). The second makes allegory a continuous...

allegory

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Encyclopedia of Semiotics

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2007
Subject:
Language reference, Linguistics
Length:
1,899 words
Illustration(s):
1

...is other than literal. Allegory thus lies on that axis of signifying modes that bifurcates direct denotation by introducing an intermediate term between sign and meaning. The two poles of this axis are simile and enigma; between the two are such devices as fable, metaphor, irony, and riddle; allegory has been categorized by some theorists as a more elaborate form of metaphor. From the nearest pole to the farthest, the defining characteristic of the axis is that the ultimate meaning becomes increasingly unclear. The purpose of allegory and similar modes is...

Allegory

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Maria Bettetini and Francesco Paparella

The Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2014
Subject:
Religion
Length:
4,861 words

... Allegory The word allegory appears in many of Aug.'s texts and is defined specifically rather than generically as the linguistic phenomena of metaphor, symbol, irony, or figurative meaning. In most of these texts, Aug.'s interest in allegory is a question of exegesis. Allegories are among the modes of found in Scripture, and thus it is important to understand them in order to grasp the message of salvation. ...

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