Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nardvark Discovers Really Random Literary Devices: Synesthesia

As well as being a bizarre neurological condition that may involve seeing a 3D calendar in ones mind's eye or considering letters of the alphabet to have colours and personalities, synesthesia is a cool literary device. 

Synesthesia is a literary device whereby the author or poet describes something by using the "wrong" sense; for example a coffee shop that smells red or an absolutely delicious new painting in the elevator lobby.

Surprise your English teacher by pinpointing the use of this funky writing tool in the following examples:

"I Heard a Fly Buzz" by Emily Dickinson contains the line "With Blue – uncertain stumbling Buzz – ". Emily used a colour (blue) to describe a sound (the buzzing of a fly.)

 In C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Peter's voice when he enters the Beavers' hiding place is "tired and pale in the darkness."  Here Lewis used a visual adjective (pale) to describe a sound (Peter's voice).

Now. Examples of synesthesia we hear and use every day, without even realisizing we're being all literary -- he/she's so hot; my boyfriend has been really cold lately; this book is so dry; that movie made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside... 

Next time you are looking for literary tools in English class, look for synesthesia.  Your English teacher will smile with noisy teeth.