paradox, statement that appears self-contradictory but actually has a basis in truth, e.g., Oscar Wilde's "Ignorance is like a delicate fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone." Many New Critics maintained that paradox is not just a rhetorical or illustrative device but a basic aspect of all poetic language.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.