Frame Story

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Related to Frame Story: Iambic pentameter

Frame Story


a medieval literary genre that made use of a connecting narrative “frame” to unite diverse short stories, folktales, or fables. The entertaining, narrative approach of the various stories was usually combined with a didactic orientation in the overall narrative framework, lending the collection compositional and artistic wholeness.

The sources for the frame story can be discovered in the narrative literature and folklore of the ancient East and of European antiquity. The frame story evidently took definitive shape as a genre in India during the first half of the first millennium A.D. Models of the genre are considered to be Gunadhya’s The Great Tale, which has come down in late revisions, and the Panchatantra, in which some of the individual stories are related directly to the frame and the rest are connected to one another, forming a multistep system of subordination.

The didactic tendency of the overall frame structure of the Panchatantra is considerably weaker in other medieval Sanskrit collections, such as The Twenty-five Stories of a Demon, Seventy Tales of the Parrot, and Thirty-two Stories of the Throne of Vikrama, where the frame merely serves as a formal device for connecting the various episodes.

The composition of the frame story allowed the addition of new stories and replacement of old ones. This resulted in numerous versions of one and the same original work and contributed to the spread of the frame story genre to the folklore and literatures of the East and West. Using translations from the languages of India and compilations of local and foreign folklore, frame-story works arose in Persian, Arabic, Mongolian, Hebrew, Greek, and the Turkic, Slavic, and Romance languages (including Kalila and Dimna, The Book of Sindbad, The Thousand and One Nights, and The Book of the Parrot).

In Europe, early and relatively independent examples of the genre were the medieval didactic collections called exempla, including the Disciplina clericalis (Art of the Clerks) of Pedro Alfonso (1062–1140) and The Book of Count Lucanor by Juan Manuel (1282–1348). Subsequently, the compositional structure of the frame narrative can be seen in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the Heptaméron of Marguerite d’Angoulême, and the Italian novellas of the Renaissance, especially Boccaccio’s Decameron.


Shklovskii, V. O teorii prozy. Moscow, 1929.
Grintser, P. A. Drevneindiiskaia proza: Obramlennaia povest’. Moscow, 1963.
Benfey, T. Panchatantra: Fünf Bücher indischer Fabeln, Märchen, und Erzählungen, vols. 1–2. Leipzig, 1859. Jolles, A. Einfache Formen. Halle, 1956.


References in periodicals archive ?
In the frame story to "Das ode Haus," the poetological dimensions of the marvelous are brought prominently to the fore: The marvelous (das Wimderbare), which describes events that seem impossible and supernatural, is distinguished from the strange or bizarre (das Wunderliche), which concerns behavior without rational justification that can be understood in emotional terms.
in Dallenbach 7), (4) this literary term is commonly used to denote an embedded story that reflects the frame story or some part of it.
The frame story narrativizes the occasion for the telling of the Ramayana.
Later, the actor playing the embedded story's Masked Bandit changes from the man who also plays Alexandria's father in the frame story (Emil Hostina) to the actor Lee Pace (now in a double role), after Alexandria insists that Roy make the Bandit's voice like his own.
The debat amoureux, in an expanded and more complex form, features prominently in Marguerite de Navarre's Heptameron, both in the novellas themselves and in the frame story that surrounds them.
This possibility leads Murphy, when he moves in the second half of the book from background to reading the poem, to pay most of his attention to the frame story that Wolfram adds to Chretien's tale at both the beginning and the end.
The main text consists of 3,773 ten-syllable verses within an allegorical frame story narrated by the Traverseur--the first-person voice associated with Bouchet throughout his career.
The Frame story of the first section of the Panchtantra has a cunning Jackal contriving enmity between a Lion and a Bull, who have been close friends.
Sylvia, Malcolm, and Jerome, the artist who discovers Andrew's frozen body in a bleak landscape, are the center of the frame story that surrounds a rather conventional but strangely compelling and symbolically fraught historical tale of Andrew's ancestors on Timber Island.
Kaut-Howson's interpretation of King Lear as her mother's life was apparent through the program notes, a frame story that contextualized the action of the play, and the Eastern European setting, which drew on her Polish/Jewish background.
She examines the history of literary references to Cortesia from Brunetto's Tesoretto to Spenser's Faerie Queene, in order to characterize Boccaccio's treatment of the motif in this tale, as well as his view of its place in the society of the frame story brigata.
In common with many textual genres from Javanese and Malay traditions, the text is a frame story designed for oral performance, with considerable repetition and redundancy, flat characters and stock expressions and actions.