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anecdote (ănˈĭkdōtˌ), brief narrative of a particular incident. An anecdote differs from a short story 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.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Contrarios a la suspension, el exceso o la plenitud de sentido hacen fracasar la anecdota. El relato que Correas ofrece del ultimo encuentro con Masotta se lee como el reverso de aquella escena inicial.
Para ilustrar esa necesidad del olvido Zuniga propone una anecdota de la emperatriz Ana de Rusia.
Hernandez tambien cuenta como, gracias a esa anecdota, nacio la Catedra Borges en la Universidad de Los Andes.
A few of her videos present this storytelling in raw form, but most of her production-cartoonlike drawings in which the captions are more prominent than the images, patchwork blankets blazoned with seemingly arbitrary conglomerates of phrases, and so on-consists of stabs at pruning her anecdota down to some more contained quasi-iconic form.
Colburn relata esta anecdota para ejemplificar la forma en que muchos latinoamericanos yen sus nuevos sistemas democraticos.