“Tour de Force: (French, ‘Turn of Force’) As a literary term it may be applied to a work which provides an outstanding illustration of a writer’s skill and mastery; a sort of ‘one-off’ brilliant display. Among modern examples one might suggest: Hemingway’s short story The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1938); Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon (1940); Orwell’s fable Animal Farm (1945); Anthony Burgess’s novel A Clockwork Orange (1962); Daniel Keyes’s short story Flowers for Algernon (1965); and Vikram Seth’s extraordinary ‘novel’ The Golden Gate (1986)—a narrative which consists of 590 sonnets in rhyming tetrameters.”
Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.