(470 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume 12: Global Voices, Global Histories: World Literatures and Cultures.

Apostrophe (etymology: a turning-away [from the main subject or addressee]) in literature is a rhetorical figure of direct address to (1): an absent or dead person; (2): an imaginary person such as a material object or an aspect of nature that is treated anthropomorphically: (3):  a personified abstraction:  For example:

(1)   “Good night, sweet prince, / And flights of angels sing three to thy rest!” (Horatio in Hamlet V, ii, 348-49).

(2)   “Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness, / Thou foster-child of silence and slow time” (etc. Keats’ “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” vv. 1-10).

(3) “They call you Lady Luck, / But there …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Porter, Laurence M.. "Apostrophe". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 29 January 2012
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=69, accessed 07 July 2015.]