“An illustrative moral or religious story, usually brief and with generalized, simple characters and universal human application; telling or cautionary account.
‘I have never read a story better than Endurance, Alfred Lansing’s account of the Shackleton expedition to Antarctica; but no one considers it literature. If Mailer had written it, might we not read the same text as a parable or something or other.’”
Annie Dillard, Living by Fiction
Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.