Ring composition

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Ring composition is a narrative technique said to be characteristic of preliterate peoples and oral modes of composition. It is also called chiasmus, chiastic structure, or simply ring structure. In ring composition, a narrator touches on a number of topics until a significant topic is reached, then continues on in the narrative by retracing in reverse order the topics which were mentioned on the way to the significant point. Ring composition is an important element in epic poetry like Beowulf, Homeric epics, Ovidian poetry, the Aeneid, Paradise Lost, in the Hebrew scriptures and in many other traditional texts that show signs of being composed orally.[1]


  1. ^ Mary Douglas, Thinking in circles: An essay on ring composition, Yale Univ. Press, 2007