Periphrasis(redirected from periphrases)
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(1) In stylistics and poetics, a trope expressing one concept by means of several. Periphrases of varying complexity are possible, from the simplest (“he sank into sleep” instead of “he fell asleep”) to the most complex; the latter approach metonymy, personification, and other tropes. An example is N. V. Gogol’s rendering of “a gray moustache” as “a long moustache powdered by that inexorable barber who, uninvited, appears to both the beautiful and the ugly and who for several thousand years now has been forcibly powdering the whole human race.” A particular type of periphrasis is euphemism, descriptive expression of “low” or “forbidden” concepts (“the evil one” instead of “the devil”). Periphrasis should not be confused with paraphrase.
(2) Sometimes periphrasis refers also to perepev, a type of parody in which the object of satire is not the form of the work parodied but its new content. An example is N. A. Nekrasov’s parody of M. Iu. Lermontov’s “Spi, mladenets moi prekrasnyi” (“Sleep, my beautiful child”) as “Spi, postrel, poka bezvrednyi!” (“Sleep, my little imp, and harmless yet!”).
M. L. GASPAROV