Seeking diegesis

I learnt an interesting new word the other day – diegesis [ˌdaɪəˈdʒiːsɪs], which, according to Wikipedia means:

a style of fiction storytelling that presents an interior view of a world in which details about the world itself and the experiences of its characters are revealed explicitly through narrative, and the story is told or recounted, as opposed to shown or enacted.

In diegesis the narrator tells the story and presents the actions, and sometimes thoughts, of the characters to the readers or audience. The opposite of diegesis is mimesis, from the Greek μίμησις (imitation), in which the action is shown directly rather than narrated.

In films diegesis refers to the story depicted on screen, as opposed to the story in real time that the screen narrative is about. Anything outside the screen narrative is known as extradiegetic. When a story is embedded within another story and related by a narrator, it is known as metadiegetic or hypodiegetic.

The word diegesis comes from the Greek διήγησις (narrative) from διηγεῖσθαι (to narrate), from διά ‎(through, over, across) and ἥγησις (to lead, command), from the Proto-Indo-European *seh₂g- (to seek out), which is also the root of the English word seek, the German word suchen (to seek, search), and related words in other Germanic languages.

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Greek, Language, Words and phrases.

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