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(ăn`ĭkdōt'), brief narrative of a particular incident. An anecdote differs from a short storyshort story,
brief prose fiction. The term covers a wide variety of narratives—from stories in which the main focus is on the course of events to studies of character, from the "short short" story to extended and complex narratives such as Thomas Mann's Death in Venice.
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 in that it is unified in time and space, is uncomplicated, and deals with a single episode. The literal Greek meaning of the word is "not published," and it still retains some such sense of confidentiality. Sometimes an anecdote is inserted into a novel as an interval in the main plot, as in Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Famous books of anecdotes include the Deipnosophistae of Athenaeus and Plutarch's Lives.



a brief story about some insignificant but characteristic event drawn from the life of a historical personage. In modern word usage (from the middle of the 19th century) an anecdote also refers to a short, oral, humorous story with an unexpected and witty ending.

In the first sense of the term, “anecdote” was used in conjunction with the satirical Secret History by Procopius of Caesarea. Later the term “anecdote” began to be applied to minor narrative genres of a comic nature, often with a sharp political content. In West European literature, for instance, the fabliau and the facetiae developed especially during the Renaissance—for example, Poggio Bracciolini’s Facetiae. In Russia the anecdote first became widespread in the second half of the 18th century (the collections of N. Kurganov, P. Semenov, and others). The anecdote has become widespread in modern urban folklore.


Maslova, E. “K istorii anekdoticheskoi literatury XVIII v.” In Sbornik statei ν chest’ akademika A. 1. Sobolevskogo. (Sb. otd. rus. iaz. i slovesnosti AN SSSR, vol. 101, no. 3.) Leningrad, 1928.
References in classic literature ?
Bushby mentioned one pleasing anecdote as a proof of the sincerity of some, at least, of those who profess Christianity.
Lots of anecdote,' said the green-coated stranger of the day before, advancing to Mr.
If the chevalier did allow himself this bit of shrewd practice,--which, by the bye, would have won him the regard of the Chevalier de Gramont, a smile from the Baron de Foeneste, a shake of the hand from the Marquis de Moncade,--was he any the less that amiable guest, that witty talker, that imperturbable card-player, that famous teller of anecdotes, in whom all Alencon took delight?
Containing better reasons than any which have yet appeared for the conduct of Partridge; an apology for the weakness of Jones; and some further anecdotes concerning my landlady.
In an amusing anecdote in ``Christopher and His Kind,'' Isherwood records that the early drafts of his parts of a play he was writing in collaboration with W.
When a television broadcaster told a relevant anecdote, Light frantically scribbled it down on a scrap of paper.
The most resonant anecdote in Drew's book is that Clinton, on telling Senator Bob Kerrey that he'd chosen Al Gore to be his running mate, couldn't help adding, "If it were up to me, it would be you.
To illustrate just how much government has deteriorated since that time, Booth included an anecdote about an outhouse in the Delaware Gap National Recreation Area that cost more than $300,000 to build.
An ad featuring a single anecdote proves nothing about sexual orientation in general or the arguments of the "homosexual movement.
And there's the terrific anecdote about Elizabeth Dole needing to schedule an appointment with her husband in order to talk campaign strategy.
In fact, Fialka's most compelling anecdote may be in the book's introduction, which details nineteenth-century entrepreneur Francis Cabot Lowell's theft of the design plans for England's Cartwright loom, and the resultant effects on US.
If this is true, then the myth is perpetuated by art history since we can understand "every anecdote to mean the secret political narrative within the larger historical narrative.