Term of Art: Anachronism

“(Greek ‘back-timing’) In literature anachronisms may be used deliberately to distance events and to underline a universal sense of verisimilitude and timelessness—to prevent something being ‘dated.’ Shakespeare adopted this device several times. Two classic examples are the references to the clock in Julius Caesar and to billiards in Antony and Cleopatra. Shaw also does it Androcles and the Lion when the Emperor is referred to as ‘The Defender of the Faith.’”

Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.

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