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Motif in Literature

Etymology: Dynamism

The fluidity of the term motif, and its conflation with other concepts, help emphasize the movement, mutability, and persistence that return us both to Steiner's cultural "motor" and to the root of the word itself. Derived from the Latin verb movere, "to move," and the Medieval Latin noun motivum, "cause" or "incitement," motif implies movement, stimulus, and dynamism; a recurring pattern or rhythm of motifs in effect propels narrative action. Motifs move in different ways: they are "mobile sequences" that conduct narrative action within individual texts, and they are also "translingual," "intertextual migrations" that move between texts and genres through time. Motifs moreover persist—constantly migrating and recycling, but surviving. Thus, George Steiner traces the combined motifs of poet's death, springtime, and resurrection from Horace, via the early modern poets William Dunbar, Thomas Carew, and John Milton, to Percy Bysshe Shelley and W. H. Auden—tracking how diverse writers inherited and adapted meaning from classical antiquity into the twentieth century.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Molecular distillation to My station and its duties:Motif in Literature - Ambiguity, Size, Etymology: Dynamism, King Motifs In The Medieval Arthurian Tradition, Stith Thompson's Motif-index Of Folk-literature