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Saturday, 9 July 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: In medias res

In medias res: Meaning ‘into the middle of things’, this Latin phrase denotes the literary narrative technique where the story begins at the mid-point or even the end, instead of the beginning. Setting, character, and conflict are generally established using flashback and, sometimes, expository dialogue to explain and describe what has happened prior to the opening events. Its main advantage is that the story opens with dramatic action instead of beginning with an explanation and description of the characters and situation.
An example is Homer's Odyssey, where we first hear about Odysseus’ journey as he’s kept captive on Calypso's island. Later, we discover that most of Odysseus’ journey takes place before that point in the narrative.
The technique is used fairly widely in modern literature as a device to hook the attention of readers who might otherwise be impatient enough to discard a good story before it has really begun.

9 July 1911: Mervyn Peake, author of Gormenghast, born.

Picture: Nettle Dale, near Huggate, East Yorkshire.
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