Look and Listen... | Regardez et écoutez ...

Literary Genres | Les genres littéraires

The term genre | le genre specifies the literary form or type into which works are classified. Literary genres may be categorized according to what they have in common, either in their formal structures or in their treatment of subject matter, or both.

Texts are primarily classified within the fiction or non-fiction categories.

Fiction | Un texte de fiction
The fictional literary genre
  • includes a variety of narrative genres that intend to entertain and engage the reader in an imaginative experience
  • describes imaginary events and people 
  • features content that is produced by the author’s imagination
  • may be realistic or may not be based on facts

Non-fiction | Un texte de non-fiction
The non-fictional literary genre
  • features accurate and credible information
  • explores factual and informational themes about things, events, people, constructs, concepts, and theories

The following table includes common genres of fiction and non- fiction literature and highlights their key features.

Genres | Genres
Features | Les traits
Adventure | Une aventure
 The adventure literary genre
  • focuses on the solving of a problem through a series of action events
  • typically includes an aspect of peril, threat, or danger
  • involves risk and physical danger, as its main theme
  • often features a hero and a villain as characters

Autobiography | Une autobiographie
 The autobiographical literary genre
  • explains an account of a real person’s life written by that person from his or her own point of view
  • is often written from the first person singular perspective

Biography | Une biographie
 The biographical literary genre
  • is usually a description or an account of a person’s life written by another person
  • often situates a person’s life in historical terms and/or in a cultural context

Drama | Un drame
 The drama literary genre
  • presents the actions and words of characters
  • is typically designed for the theatre because characters are assigned roles usually enacted on stage
  • generally appears as a play (or a script) such as radio broadcasts, comedy sketches, and opera
  • expresses conflicts and emotions through dialogue and action 

Epic | Une épopée   
 The epic literary genre
  • recounts the actions, travels, or adventures of a hero, who is usually on a quest or attempting to perform a difficult task
  • describes the deeds of a heroic figure, often of national or cultural importance

Essay | Une dissertation
 The essay literary genre
  • discusses a subject or makes an argument
  • often presents the writer’s own ideas on a topic and may reflect an author’s perspective or point of view
  • frequently found in magazines and periodicals

Fable | Une fable
 The fable literary genre
  • teaches a moral or lesson through the narration of a brief tale
  • involves characters that are usually animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature that embody different human characteristics

Fairy tale | Un conte de fées
 The fairy tale literary genre
  • involves magical beings, lands, and objects
  • often begin with “Once upon a time . . . ” | « Il était une fois. . . » or “Long, long ago . . . ” | « Il ya bien longtemps. . ./ En ce temps-là...  »
  • includes enchanting, fantastic or marvelous episodes and imaginative characters, events, or symbols 

Fantasy | Une fantaisie
 The fantasy literary genre
  • features an imaginative setting, often in the past or the future
  • involves characters (human and animal) who have adventures
  • typically contains elements of magic
  • includes unrealistic, nonsensical or impossible aspects

Folk tale | Un conte populaire
 The  folk tale literary genre 
  • is usually based on a story from the past that has been transmitted orally from generation to generation
  • is typically of unknown authorship
  • may entertain, teach, reinforce cultural and social mores, and reflect cultural differences

Historical fiction | Un texte de fiction historique
 The historical fiction literary genre
  • gives an accurate portrayal of life and events during a particular time in history
  • often features real settings
  • usually involves imaginary characters and plots

Horror | Un texte d’horreur
 The horror literary genre
  • typically highlights events or characters that evoke fear in other characters and in the reader
  • is designed to make the reader feel horror, disgust or terror
  • features characters such as phantoms, witches or a variety of  monsters that threaten humans

Humour | Un texte d’humour
 The humour literary genre
  • uses comedy, wit, fancy, and funny anecdotes
  • intends to entertain, amuse, ridicule or satirize
  • focuses on funny characters, situations or events
  • may be realistic or fantastic

Informational | Un texte informatif
 The informational literary genre
  • explains a subject or concept
  • includes factual texts of documented knowledge
  • features accurate, authentic, up-to-date and clearly organized information
  • may incorporate maps, photos, diagrams, illustrations or charts to help explain and justify the facts

Legend | Une légende
 The legend as a literary genre
  • often focuses on a national or folk hero
  • is typically rooted in real historical events, may have a basis in facts and/or includes imagined characters, events, and settings
  • has usually been transmitted orally from generation to generation

Memoir | Une mémoire
 The memoir as a literary genre
  • is a historical account
  • has been written by someone with first-hand knowledge of the time and events
  • involves a public portion of the author’s life as it relates to a person, historic event, or thing
  • is usually written in the first person

Mystery | Une énigme
 The mystery literary genre
  • deals with a puzzling question or crime that is solved through investigation and the following of clues
  • commonly features suspense, adventure, crimes, secrets and detectives

Myth | Une mythologie
 The myth as a literary genre
  • describes the early history of a people or explains some natural or social phenomenon
  • usually involves gods, goddesses, and other supernatural beings
  • reveals human behaviour and/or natural phenomena by its symbolism 

Poetry | Une poésie
 Poetry as a literary genre
  • appeals to the thoughts and feelings of the reader
  • features compositions including rhyme, imaginative language, and beautiful words
  • is usually written in verse rather than in prose

Realistic fiction | Un texte de fiction réaliste
 The realistic fiction literary genre
  • depicts imaginary characters and events in a way that seems true to life
  • may include topics such as lifelike family situations, peer relationships, and cultural differences
  • is often set in modern times

Romance | Une romance
 The romance literary genre
  • depicts love relationships, often in idealized ways
  • typically has an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending
  • may be set in any place or time

Satire | Une satire
 The satire literary genre
  • exposes and makes fun of human folly and vice
  • commonly uses irony, mockery, sarcasm, and ridicule
  • may ridicule the shortcomings of individuals, institutions, or society

Science fiction | Un texte de science-fiction
 The science fiction literary genre
  • depicts the potential effect of scientific changes on an imagined future world and the characters in that world
  • typically features futuristic settings, science and technology, space travel, and paranormal abilities

Sport | Un texte de sport
 The sports literary genre
  • explores and celebrates the role and influence of athletics in characters’ lives and/or society
  • includes plots and themes that deal with the characters’ participation in sports

Tall tale | Un grand conte
 The tall tale literary genre
  • focuses on key elements of exaggeration
  • depicts characters with exaggerated characteristics such as larger-than-life or superhuman abilities