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February 16, 2007

That's and understatement!

Hamilton, Essential Literary Terms (32-67) -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

"Understatement is a form of irony in which a point is deliberately expressed as less, in magnitude, value, or importance, than it actually is."

I had NO idea that understatement was a literary term let alone a form of irony. Of course I have seen it used in literature and on TV, and even hear it on a daily basis in real life. I just had no idea that it was a "literary" kind of thing. I do see now how it is a form of irony, but I wouldn't have made the connection had I not read this.

Posted by CheraPupi at February 16, 2007 9:00 PM


I think sometimes we get so used to reading that we begin to forget all the elements that go into it. I know I've seen understatement in stories before, but it just never clicked into place that the writer had purposefully done that to make us look closer at what was going on. Ironic, huh? The writer downplays something in order to make it more noticeable. Like telling a little kid, "Hey! Don't look at that!"

Posted by: HallieGeary at February 18, 2007 10:35 PM

Understatement really makes you sit up and take notice as a reader. In order to create an understatement, you have to assume that the reader agrees with you that the thing you are understating is much more significant than you are describing it as. It encourages a much more active dialogue with the reader.

Posted by: MatthewHenderson at February 16, 2007 9:48 PM

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