Knowing the etymological origin of the two words that give shape to the term that concerns us now is the first thing we are going to do:
-Description, first of all, derives from Latin, exactly from “descriptio”, which can be translated as “the action and effect of writing on the way something is perceived”. It is the result of the sum of three components: the prefix “des-”, which means “from top to bottom”; the verb “scribere”, which is synonymous with “write”; and the suffix “-cion”, which is used to indicate “action and effect”.
-Literary, secondly, also comes from Latin. In his case of “litterarius”, which can be translated as “proper to writing and reading”.
A literary description seeks to generate emotions and produce aesthetic pleasure.
Literary description concept
To understand what the notion of literary description refers to, then, it is convenient to analyze the two terms that make up the expression. A description is a detailed enumeration of the characteristics of something or someone. The literary, on the other hand, is that which is linked to literature: the art developed through the use of language.
A literary description, therefore, is one that is oriented to the communication of the perceived features but seeking to provide an aesthetic delight through the use of various linguistic resources. In this way, the description is not only informative, but also aims to generate a pleasant experience or arouse emotions.
Literary descriptions transcend the informative.
The example of “Platero and I”
A classic example of a literary description is the one made by the Spanish Juan Ramón Jiménez in his novel “Platero y yo”.
There the writer describes a donkey as “all cotton” and mentions that its eyes look like “black glass beetles”. The description, being literary, includes symbolic elements and rhetorical figures.
How to make a literary description
In order to carry out a good literary description, it is necessary to make use of a series of resources or take into account these keys:
-It is important to use explanatory adjectives.
-Language must be expressive.
-In the same way, it is essential to resort to the use of rhetorical figures such as comparisons or metaphors, among many others.
-The approach, as we have come to expose, can be surrealist, impressionist, exaggerated…
It is important to keep in mind that the literary description is not objective, but it is plausible. Going back to the description presented in “Platero y yo”, the reader should not assume that the animal in the story is actually made of “cotton”: that image is coherent and descriptive if one thinks about the comparison between the texture that can be found in the body of a donkey and a flake of cotton.
No objectivity or technical language
The scope of the idea of literary description can be easily understood by comparing it with other descriptions. A technical description of a television, to cite one case, could indicate: “It is a device with a 34-inch screen and WiFi connectivity”. A literary description, on the other hand, would indicate: “It is a rectangular creature that receives invisible signals”.
In addition to everything indicated, we can state that it is widely used both in poetry and in stories and in the novel. And not only that, in addition, its purpose is to inform, but also to generate an impact on the reader, so that they do not feel indifferent.