Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Topos

A characteristic pattern of action whose surface manifestations may be very various but whose underlying structure constitutes an essential element of Story. A typical topos is the action of journeying Into the Woods. Another is the exemplary transformation of a man into an Ass, with consequences comic and erotic and educational. A further is the search of the reluctant immortal (> Accursed Wanderer; Flying Dutchman; Wandering Jew) for surcease. [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.