“Leitmotif: (German Leitmotiv ‘leading motif’) A term coined by Hans von Wolzugen to designate a musical theme associated throughout a whole work with a particular object, denote a recurrent theme (q.v.) or unit. It is occasionally used as a literary term in the same sense that Mann intended, and also on a broader sense to refer to an author’s favorite themes: for example, the hunted man and betrayal in the novels of Graham Greene.”
Excerpted from: Cuddon, J.A. The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory. New York: Penguin, 1992.