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Literature is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an
art Art is a diverse range of human activity, and resulting product, that involves creative or imaginative talent expressive of technical proficiency, beauty, emotional power, or conceptual ideas. There is no generally agreed definition of wha ...
form, especially
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language that follows the natural speech, natural flow of speech, uses a language's ordinary Grammar, grammatical structures, or follows the conventions of formal academic writing. It differs from most traditio ...
fiction Fiction is any creative work, chiefly any narrative work, portraying character (arts), individuals, events, or setting (narrative), places that are imagination, imaginary, or in ways that are imaginary. Fictional portrayals are thus inconsistent ...
,
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
, and
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...
. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to include oral literature, much of which has been transcribed. Literature is a method of recording, preserving, and transmitting knowledge and entertainment, and can also have a social, psychological, spiritual, or political role. Literature, as an art form, can also include works in various non-fiction genres, such as
biography A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person's experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or c ...
, diaries,
memoir A memoir (; , ) is any nonfiction narrative writing based in the author's personal memories. The assertions made in the work are thus understood to be factual. While memoir has historically been defined as a subcategory of biography or autobiog ...
, letters, and the essay. Within its broad definition, literature includes non-fictional books, articles or other printed information on a particular subject.''OED'' Etymologically, the term derives from
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
''literatura/litteratura'' "learning, a writing, grammar," originally "writing formed with letters," from ''litera/littera'' "letter". In spite of this, the term has also been applied to spoken or sung texts. Developments in print technology have allowed an ever-growing distribution and proliferation of written works, which now includes electronic literature. Literature is classified according to whether it is
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...
,
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language that follows the natural speech, natural flow of speech, uses a language's ordinary Grammar, grammatical structures, or follows the conventions of formal academic writing. It differs from most traditio ...
or
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
, and such works are often further categorized according to historical period, adherence to certain
aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics, is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions ...
features, or
genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of being, category of literature, ...
.


Definitions

Definitions of literature have varied over time.Leitch ''et al.'', ''The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism'', 28 In
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe. The region's countries and territories vary depending on context. The concept of "the West" appeared in Europe in juxtaposition to "the East" and originally applied to the ancient Mediterranean ...
, prior to the 18th century, literature denoted all books and writing literature can be seen as returning to older, more inclusive notions, so that cultural studies, for instance, include, in addition to canonical works, popular and minority genres. The word is also used in reference non-written works: to " oral literature" and "the literature of preliterate culture". A value judgment definition of literature considers it as consisting solely of high quality writing that forms part of the '' belles-lettres'' ("fine writing") tradition. An example of this in the (1910–11) ''Encyclopædia Britannica'' that classified literature as "the best expression of the best thought reduced to writing".Biswas, ''Critique of Poetics'', 538


History


Oral literature

The use of the term "literature" here is a little problematic because of its origins in the Latin ''littera'', “letter,” essentially writing. Alternatives such as "oral forms" and "oral genres" have been suggested but the word literature is widely used. Oral literature is an ancient human tradition found in "all corners of the world". Modern archaeology has been unveiling evidence of the human efforts to preserve and transmit arts and knowledge that depended completely or partially on an oral tradition, across various cultures: The earliest
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...
is believed to have been recited or sung, employed as a way of remembering
history History (derived ) is the systematic study and the documentation of the human activity. The time period of event before the invention of writing systems is considered prehistory. "History" is an umbrella term comprising past events as we ...
,
genealogy Genealogy () is the study of families, family history, and the tracing of their Lineage (anthropology), lineages. Genealogists use oral interviews, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family a ...
, and law. In Asia, the transmission of folklore, mythologies as well as scriptures in ancient India, in different Indian religions, was by oral tradition, preserved with precision with the help of elaborate mnemonic techniques. The early Buddhist texts are also generally believed to be of oral tradition, with the first by comparing inconsistencies in the transmitted versions of literature from various oral societies such as the Greek, Serbia and other cultures, then noting that the Vedic literature is too consistent and vast to have been composed and transmitted orally across generations, without being written down. According to Goody, the Vedic texts likely involved both a written and oral tradition, calling it a "parallel products of a literate society". Australian Aboriginal culture has thrived on oral traditions and oral histories passed down through thousands of years. In a study published in February 2020, new evidence showed that both Budj Bim and
Tower Hill Tower Hill is the area surrounding the Tower of London in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is infamous for the public execution of high status prisoners from the late 14th to the mid 18th century. The execution site on the higher grou ...
volcanoes erupted between 34,000 and 40,000 years ago. Significantly, this is a "minimum age constraint for human presence in Victoria", and also could be interpreted as evidence for the oral histories of the Gunditjmara people, an Aboriginal Australian people of south-western Victoria, which tell of volcanic eruptions being some of the oldest oral traditions in existence. An axe found underneath volcanic ash in 1947 had already proven that humans inhabited the region before the eruption of Tower Hill. All ancient Greek literature was to some degree oral in nature, and the earliest literature was completely so.
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
's epic poetry, states Michael Gagarin, was largely composed, performed and transmitted orally. As folklores and legends were performed in front of distant audiences, the singers would substitute the names in the stories with local characters or rulers to give the stories a local flavor and thus connect with the audience, but making the historicity embedded in the oral tradition as unreliable. The lack of surviving texts about the Greek and Roman religious traditions have led scholars to presume that these were ritualistic and transmitted as oral traditions, but some scholars disagree that the complex rituals in the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations were an exclusive product of an oral tradition. Writing systems are not known to have existed among Native North Americans before contact with Europeans. Oral storytelling traditions flourished in a context without the use of writing to record and preserve history, scientific knowledge, and social practices. While some stories were told for amusement and leisure, most functioned as practical lessons from tribal experience applied to immediate moral, social, psychological, and environmental issues. Stories fuse fictional, supernatural, or otherwise exaggerated characters and circumstances with real emotions and morals as a means of teaching. Plots often reflect real life situations and may be aimed at particular people known by the story's audience. In this way, social pressure could be exerted without directly causing embarrassment or social exclusion. For example, rather than yelling,
Inuit Inuit (; iu, ᐃᓄᐃᑦ 'the people', singular: Inuk, , dual: Inuuk, ) are a group of culturally similar Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic and subarctic regions of Greenland, Labrador, Quebec, Nun ...
parents might deter their children from wandering too close to the water's edge by telling a story about a sea monster with a pouch for children within its reach. See also African literature#Oral literature


Oratory

Oratory or the art of public speaking "was for long considered a literary art". From
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
to the late 19th century,
rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims to study the techniques writers or speakers utilize to inform, persuad ...
played a central role in Western education in training orators, lawyers, counselors, historians, statesmen, and poets.


Writing

Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration in
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن or ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the F ...
outgrew human memory, and
writing Writing is a medium of human communication which involves the representation of a language through a system of physically Epigraphy, inscribed, Printing press, mechanically transferred, or Word processor, digitally represented Symbols (semiot ...
became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form. Though in both
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
and
Mesoamerica Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in southern North America and most of Central America. It extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica. Withi ...
, writing may have already emerged because of the need to record historical and environmental events. Subsequent innovations included more uniform, predictable, legal systems, sacred texts, and the origins of modern practices of scientific inquiry and knowledge-consolidation, all largely reliant on portable and easily reproducible forms of writing.  


Early written literature

Ancient Egyptian literature, along with Sumerian literature, are considered the world's oldest literatures.Black et al. ''The Literature of Ancient Sumer'', xix The primary
genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of being, category of literature, ...
s of the literature of
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the ...
didactic Didacticism is a philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature, art, and design. In art, design, architecture, and landscape, didacticism is an emerging conceptual approach that is driven by the urgent need to ...
texts, hymns and prayers, and tales—were written almost entirely in verse; By the
Old Kingdom In ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100Anno Domini, BC (according to conventional Egyptian ...
(26th century BC to 22nd century BC), literary works included funerary texts, epistles and letters, hymns and poems, and commemorative autobiographical texts recounting the careers of prominent administrative officials. It was not until the early Middle Kingdom (21st century BC to 17th century BC) that a narrative Egyptian literature was created. Many works of early periods, even in narrative form, had a covert moral or didactic purpose, such as the Sanskrit '' Panchatantra''.200 BC – 300 AD, based on older oral tradition. Translator's introduction: "The ''Panchatantra'' is a ''niti-shastra'', or textbook of ''niti''. The word ''niti'' means roughly "the wise conduct of life." Western civilization must endure a certain shame in realizing that no precise equivalent of the term is found in English, French, Latin, or Greek. Many words are therefore necessary to explain what ''niti'' is, though the idea, once grasped, is clear, important, and satisfying."
Drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
and
satire Satire is a genre of the visual arts, visual, literature, literary, and performing arts, usually in the form of fiction and less frequently Nonfiction, non-fiction, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ...
also developed as urban culture provided a larger public audience, and later readership, for literary production. Lyric poetry (as opposed to epic poetry) was often the speciality of courts and aristocratic circles, particularly in East Asia where songs were collected by the Chinese aristocracy as poems, the most notable being the ''Shijing'' or '' Book of Songs'' (1046–c.600 BC), . In
ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the reign of king Wu Ding. Ancient historical texts such as the '' Book of Documents'' (early chapt ...
, early literature was primarily focused on philosophy,
historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historians in developing history as an academic discipline, and by extension is any body of historical work on a particular subject. The historiography of a specific topic covers how historians ha ...
, military science, agriculture, and
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...
. China, the origin of modern paper making and
woodblock printing Woodblock printing or block printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of textile printing, printing on textiles and later paper. Each page o ...
, produced the world's first print cultures. Much of Chinese literature originates with the
Hundred Schools of Thought The Hundred Schools of Thought () were philosophies and schools that flourished from the 6th century BC to 221 BC during the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period of ancient China. An era of substantial discrimination in China, ...
period that occurred during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (769‒269 BC). The most important of these include the Classics of
Confucianism Confucianism, also known as Ruism or Ru classicism, is a system of thought and behavior originating in ancient China. Variously described as tradition, a philosophy, a Religious Confucianism, religion, a humanistic or rationalistic religion, ...
, of
Daoism Taoism (, ) or Daoism () refers to either a school of Philosophy, philosophical thought (道家; ''daojia'') or to a religion (道教; ''daojiao''), both of which share ideas and concepts of China, Chinese origin and emphasize living in harmo ...
, of Mohism, of Legalism, as well as works of military science (e.g. Sun Tzu's '' The Art of War'', c.5th century BC)) and
Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the reign of king Wu Ding. Ancient historical texts such as the '' Book of Documents'' (early chap ...
(e.g.
Sima Qian Sima Qian (; ; ) was a Chinese historian of the early Han dynasty The Han dynasty (, ; ) was an imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 9 AD, 25–220 AD), established by Emperor Gaozu of Han, Liu Bang (Emperor Gao) and ruled by the H ...
's ''
Records of the Grand Historian ''Records of the Grand Historian'', also known by its Chinese language, Chinese name ''Shiji'', is a monumental Chinese historiography, history of China that is the first of China's Twenty-Four Histories, 24 dynastic histories. The ''Records'' ...
'', c.94 BC). Ancient Chinese literature had a heavy emphasis on historiography, with often very detailed court records. An exemplary piece of narrative history of ancient China was the '' Zuo Zhuan'', which was compiled no later than 389 BC, and attributed to the blind 5th-century BC historian Zuo Qiuming. In
ancient India According to consensus in modern genetics, anatomically modern humans first arrived on the Indian subcontinent from Africa between 73,000 and 55,000 years ago. Quote: "Y-Chromosome and Mt-DNA data support the colonization of South Asia by ...
, literature originated from stories that were originally orally transmitted. Early genres included
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
, fables, sutras and
epic poetry An epic poem, or simply an epic, is a lengthy narrative poem typically about the extraordinary deeds of extraordinary characters who, in dealings with gods or other superhuman forces, gave shape to the mortal universe for their descendants. ...
. Sanskrit literature begins with the
Vedas FIle:Atharva-Veda samhita page 471 illustration.png, upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the ''Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Co ...
, dating back to 1500–1000 BC, and continues with the Sanskrit Epics of Iron Age India. The Vedas are among the oldest sacred texts. The Samhitas (vedic collections) date to roughly 1500–1000 BC, and the "circum-Vedic" texts, as well as the redaction of the Samhitas, date to c. 1000‒500 BC, resulting in a
Vedic period The Vedic period, or the Vedic age (), is the period in the late Bronze Age in India, Bronze Age and early Iron Age in India, Iron Age of the history of India when the Vedic literature, including the Vedas (ca. 1300–900 BCE), was composed in ...
, spanning the mid-2nd to mid 1st millennium BC, or the
Late Bronze Age The Bronze Age is a historic period, lasting approximately from 3300 BC to 1200 BC, characterized by the use of bronze, the presence of writing in some areas, and other early features of urban civilization. The Bronze Age is the second prin ...
and the
Iron Age The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age division of the prehistory and protohistory of humanity. It was preceded by the Stone Age (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic) and the Bronze Age (Chalcolithic). The concept has been mostly appl ...
. Gavin Flood sums up mainstream estimates, according to which the Rigveda was compiled from as early as 1500 BC over a period of several centuries. The period between approximately the 6th to 1st centuries BC saw the composition and redaction of the two most influential Indian epics, the ''
Mahabharata The ''Mahābhārata'' ( ; sa, महाभारतम्, ', ) is one of the two major Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epics of ancient India in Hinduism, the other being the ''Ramayana, Rāmāyaṇa''. It narrates the s ...
'' and the ''
Ramayana The ''Rāmāyana'' (; sa, रामायणम्, ) is a Sanskrit literature, Sanskrit Indian epic poetry, epic composed over a period of nearly a millennium, with scholars' estimates for the earliest stage of the text ranging from the 8th ...
'', with subsequent redaction progressing down to the 4th century AD. Other major literary works are RamcharitmanasLutgendorf 1991, p. 1. & Krishnacharitmanas. The earliest known Greek writings are Mycenaean (c.1600–1100 BC), written in the
Linear B Linear B was a syllabary, syllabic script used for writing in Mycenaean Greek, the earliest Attested language, attested form of Greek language, Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet by several centuries. The oldest Mycenaean writing ...
syllabary on clay tablets. These documents contain prosaic records largely concerned with trade (lists, inventories, receipts, etc.); no real literature has been discovered. Michael Ventris and John Chadwick, the original decipherers of Linear B, state that literature almost certainly existed in
Mycenaean Greece Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1750 to 1050 BC.. It represents the first advanced and distinctively Greek civilization in mainland ...
, but it was either not written down or, if it was, it was on parchment or wooden tablets, which did not survive the destruction of the Mycenaean palaces in the twelfth century BC.
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') (born ) was a Greek poet who is credited as the author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are foundational works of ancient Greek literature. Homer is considered one of the ...
's epic poems, the ''
Iliad The ''Iliad'' (; grc, Ἰλιάς, Iliás, ; "a poem about Ilium") is one of two major ancient Greek Epic poem, epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by modern audiences. As with t ...
'' and the ''
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major Ancient Greek literature, ancient Greek Epic poetry, epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by moder ...
'', are central works of
ancient Greek literature Ancient Greek literature is literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent ...
. It is generally accepted that the poems were composed at some point around the late eighth or early seventh century BC. Modern scholars consider these accounts
legend A legend is a Folklore genre, genre of folklore that consists of a narrative featuring human actions, believed or perceived, both by teller and listeners, to have taken place in human history. Narratives in this genre may demonstrate human valu ...
ary. Most researchers believe that the poems were originally transmitted orally. From antiquity until the present day, the influence of Homeric epic on Western civilization has been great, inspiring many of its most famous works of literature, music, art and film. The Homeric epics were the greatest influence on ancient Greek culture and education; to
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
, Homer was simply the one who "has taught Greece" – ''ten Hellada pepaideuken''.
Hesiod Hesiod (; grc-gre, Ἡσίοδος ''Hēsíodos'') was an ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer. He is generally regarded by western authors as 'the first written poet i ...
's Works and Days (c.700 BC) and
Theogony The ''Theogony'' (, , , i.e. "the genealogy or birth of the polytheism, gods") is a poem by Hesiod (8th–7th century BC) describing the origins and genealogy, genealogies of the Greek gods, composed . It is written in the Epic dialect of Ancien ...
are some of the earliest, and most influential, of ancient Greek literature. Classical Greek genres included philosophy,
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...
, historiography, comedies and
drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
s.
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
(428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) and
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
(384–322 BC) authored philosophical texts that are the foundation of
Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with the ancient Greek philosophy of the Pre-Socratic p ...
,
Sappho Sappho (; el, Σαπφώ ''Sapphō'' ; Aeolic Greek ''Psápphō''; c. 630 – c. 570 BC) was an Archaic Greek poet from Eresos or Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. Sappho is known for her Greek lyric, lyric poetry, written to be sung while ...
(c. 630 – c. 570 BC) and Pindar were influential lyric poets, and
Herodotus Herodotus ( ; grc, , }; BC) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided in ...
(c. 484 – c. 425 BC) and
Thucydides Thucydides (; grc, , }; BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian historian and general. His ''History of the Peloponnesian War'' recounts Peloponnesian War, the fifth-century BC war between Sparta and Athens until the year 411 BC. Thucydides has ...
were early Greek historians. Although drama was popular in ancient Greece, of the hundreds of tragedies written and performed during the classical age, only a limited number of plays by three authors still exist:
Aeschylus Aeschylus (, ; grc-gre, wikt:Αἰσχύλος, Αἰσχύλος ; c. 525/524 – c. 456/455 BC) was an ancient Greece, ancient Greek Greek tragedy, tragedian, and is often described as the father of tragedy. Academic knowledge of the genre be ...
, Sophocles, and Euripides. The plays of Aristophanes (c. 446 – c. 386 BC) provide the only real examples of a genre of comic drama known as Old Comedy, the earliest form of Greek Comedy, and are in fact used to define the genre. The
Hebrew Hebrew (; ; ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants, ...
religious text, the
Torah The Torah (; hbo, ''Tōrā'', "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Book of Genesis, Genesis, Book of Exodus, Exodus, Leviticus, Book of Numbers, Numbers a ...
, is widely seen as a product of the Persian period (539–333 BC, probably 450–350 BC). This consensus echoes a traditional Jewish view which gives
Ezra Ezra (; he, עֶזְרָא, '; fl. 480–440 BCE), also called Ezra the Scribe (, ') and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra, was a Jewish scribe ('' sofer'') and priest ('' kohen''). In Greco-Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical lang ...
, the leader of the Jewish community on its return from Babylon, a pivotal role in its promulgation. This represents a major source of Christianity's
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, which has had a major influence on Western literature. The beginning of Roman literature dates to 240 BC, when a Roman audience saw a Latin version of a Greek play. Literature in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
would flourish for the next six centuries, and includes essays, histories, poems, plays, and other writings. The Qur'an (610 AD to 632 AD), the main holy book of
Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the direct word of God in Islam, God (or ''Allah'') as it was revealed to Muh ...
, had a significant influence on the Arab language, and marked the beginning of Islamic literature. Muslims believe it was transcribed in the Arabic dialect of the Quraysh, the tribe of
Muhammad Muhammad ( ar, مُحَمَّد;  570 – 8 June 632 Common Era, CE) was an Arab religious, social, and political leader and the founder of Islam. According to Muhammad in Islam, Islamic doctrine, he was a prophet Divine inspiration, di ...
. As Islam spread, the Quran had the effect of unifying and standardizing Arabic. Theological works in Latin were the dominant form of
literature Literature is any collection of Writing, written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to ...
in Europe typically found in libraries during the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the late 5th to the late 15th centuries, similar to the Post-classical, post-classical period of World history (field), global history. It began with t ...
. Western Vernacular literature includes the
Poetic Edda The ''Poetic Edda'' is the modern name for an untitled collection of Old Norse anonymous narrative poetry, narrative poems, which is distinct from the ''Prose Edda'' written by Snorri Sturluson. Several versions exist, all primarily of text from ...
and the sagas, or heroic epics, of Iceland, the Anglo-Saxon '' Beowulf'', and the German '' Song of Hildebrandt''. A later form of medieval fiction was the romance, an adventurous and sometimes magical narrative with strong popular appeal. Controversial, religious, political and instructional literature proliferated during the European
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a Periodization, period in History of Europe, European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an e ...
as a result of the
Johannes Gutenberg Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (; – 3 February 1468) was a German inventor and Artisan, craftsman who introduced letterpress printing to Europe with his movable type, movable-type printing press. Though not the first of its ki ...
's invention of the
printing press A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a printing, print medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring the ink. It marked a dramatic improvement on earlier printing methods in wh ...
around 1440, while the Medieval romance developed into the
novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself ...
,Margaret Anne Doody
''The True Story of the Novel''
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996, rept. 1997, p. 1. Retrieved 21 October 2020.


Publishing

Publishing became possible with the
invention of writing The history of writing traces the development of expressing language by systems of markings and how these markings were used for various purposes in different societies, thereby transforming social organization. Writing systems are the foundati ...
but became more practical with the invention of printing. Prior to printing, distributed works were copied manually, by
scribe A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist, especially one who made copies of manuscripts before the invention of Printing press, automatic printing. The profession of the scribe, previously widespread across cultures, lost mos ...
s. The Chinese inventor Bi Sheng made
movable type Movable type (US English; moveable type in British English) is the system and technology of printing and typography that uses movable Sort (typesetting), components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual alphanumeric charact ...
of earthenware c. 1045. Then c.1450,
Johannes Gutenberg Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (; – 3 February 1468) was a German inventor and Artisan, craftsman who introduced letterpress printing to Europe with his movable type, movable-type printing press. Though not the first of its ki ...
independently invented movable type in Europe. This invention gradually made books less expensive to produce and more widely available. Early printed books, single sheets, and images created before 1501 in Europe are known as incunables or ''incunabula''. "A man born in 1453, the year of the fall of Constantinople, could look back from his fiftieth year on a lifetime in which about eight million books had been printed, more perhaps than all the scribes of Europe had produced since Constantine founded his city in A.D. 330." Eventually, printing enabled other forms of publishing besides books. The history of modern newspaper publishing started in Germany in 1609, with publishing of magazines following in 1663.


University discipline


In England

In England in the late 1820s, growing political and social awareness, "particularly among the utilitarians and Benthamites, promoted the possibility of including courses in English literary study in the newly formed London University". This further developed into the idea of the study of literature being "the ideal carrier for the propagation of the humanist cultural myth of a well educated, culturally harmonious nation".


America


Women and literature

The widespread education of women was not common until the nineteenth century, and because of this literature until recently was mostly male dominated. There were few English-language women poets whose names are remembered until the twentieth century. In the nineteenth century some names that stand out are Emily Brontë, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and
Emily Dickinson Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet. Little-known during her life, she has since been regarded as one of the most important figures in American poetry. Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massa ...
(see American poetry). But while generally women are absent from the European cannon of Romantic literature, there is one notable exception, the French novelist and memoirist Amantine Dupin (1804 – 1876) best known by her pen name George Sand. One of the more popular writers in Europe in her lifetime, being more renowned than both
Victor Hugo Victor-Marie Hugo (; 26 February 1802 – 22 May 1885) was a French Romanticism, Romantic writer and politician. During a literary career that spanned more than sixty years, he wrote in a variety of genres and forms. He is considered to be one ...
and Honoré de Balzac in England in the 1830s and 1840s, Sand is recognised as one of the most notable writers of the European Romantic era.
Jane Austen Jane Austen (; 16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique, and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots oft ...
(1775 – 1817) is the first major English woman novelist, while Aphra Behn is an early female dramatist. Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded between 1901 and 2020 to 117 individuals: 101 men and 16 women. Selma Lagerlöf (1858 – 1940) was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, which she was awarded in 1909. Additionally, she was the first woman to be granted a membership in The Swedish Academy in 1914. Feminist scholars have since the twentieth century sought expand the literary canon to include more women writers.


Children's literature

A separate genre of
children's literature Children's literature or juvenile literature includes stories, books, magazines, and poems that are created for children. Modern children's literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader. Children's ...
only began to emerge in the eighteenth century, with the development of the concept of childhood. The earliest of these books were educational books, books on conduct, and simple ABCs—often decorated with animals, plants, and anthropomorphic letters.


Aesthetics


Literary theory

A fundamental question of literary theory is "what is literature?" – although many contemporary theorists and literary scholars believe either that "literature" cannot be defined or that it can refer to any use of language.


Literary fiction

Literary fiction is a term used to describe
fiction Fiction is any creative work, chiefly any narrative work, portraying character (arts), individuals, events, or setting (narrative), places that are imagination, imaginary, or in ways that are imaginary. Fictional portrayals are thus inconsistent ...
that explores any facet of the
human condition The human condition is all of the characteristics and key events of human life, including childbirth, birth, learning, emotion, aspiration, morality, conflict, and death. This is a very broad topic that has been and continues to be pondered and ...
, and may involve social commentary. It is often regarded as having more artistic merit than genre fiction, especially the most commercially oriented types, but this has been contested in recent years, with the serious study of genre fiction within universities. The following, by the award-winning British author William Boyd on the short story, might be applied to all prose fiction:
hort storiesseem to answer something very deep in our nature as if, for the duration of its telling, something special has been created, some essence of our experience extrapolated, some temporary sense has been made of our common, turbulent journey towards the grave and oblivion.
The very best in literature is annually recognized by the Nobel Prize in Literature, which is awarded to an author from any country who has, in the words of the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, produced "in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction" (original Swedish: ''den som inom litteraturen har producerat det mest framstående verket i en idealisk riktning'').


The value of imaginative literature

Some researchers suggest that literary fiction can play a role in an individual's psychological development. Psychologists have also been using literature as a therapeutic tool. Psychologist Hogan argues for the value of the time and emotion that a person devotes to understanding a character's situation in literature; that it can unite a large community by provoking universal emotions, as well as allowing readers access to different cultures, and new emotional experiences. One study, for example, suggested that the presence of familiar cultural values in literary texts played an important impact on the performance of minority students. Psychologist Maslow's ideas help literary critics understand how characters in literature reflect their personal culture and the history. The theory suggests that literature helps an individual's struggle for self-fulfillment.


The influence of religious texts

Religion has had a major influence on literature, through works like the
Vedas FIle:Atharva-Veda samhita page 471 illustration.png, upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the ''Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ) are a large body of religious texts originating in ancient India. Co ...
, the
Torah The Torah (; hbo, ''Tōrā'', "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") is the compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, namely the books of Book of Genesis, Genesis, Book of Exodus, Exodus, Leviticus, Book of Numbers, Numbers a ...
, the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, and the Qur'an. The
King James Version The King James Version (KJV), also the King James Bible (KJB) and the Authorized Version, is an Bible translations into English, English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, which was commissioned in 1604 and publis ...
of the Bible has been called "the most influential version of the most influential book in the world, in what is now its most influential language", "the most important book in English religion and culture", and "the most celebrated book in the
English-speaking world Speakers of English language, English are also known as Anglophones, and the countries where English is natively spoken by the majority of the population are termed the ''Anglosphere''. Over two billion people speak English , making English the ...
" - principally because of its literary style and widespread distribution. Prominent atheist figures such as the late
Christopher Hitchens Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British-American author and journalist who wrote or edited over 30 books (including five essay collections) on culture, politics, and literature. Born and educated in England, ...
and Richard Dawkins have praised the King James Version as being "a giant step in the maturing of English literature" and "a great work of literature", respectively, with Dawkins then adding, "A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian". Societies in which
preaching A sermon is a religious discourse or oration by a preacher, usually a member of clergy. Sermons address a scriptural, theological, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law, or behavior within both past and present contexts. El ...
has great importance, and those in which religious structures and authorities have a near-monopoly of reading and writing and/or a censorship role, may impart a religious gloss to much of the literature those societies produce or retain - as for example in the European Middle Ages. The traditions of close study of religious texts has furthered the development of techniques and theories in literary studies.


Types of literature


Poetry

Poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...
has traditionally been distinguished from
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language that follows the natural speech, natural flow of speech, uses a language's ordinary Grammar, grammatical structures, or follows the conventions of formal academic writing. It differs from most traditio ...
by its greater use of the
aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics, is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions ...
qualities of language, including
music Music is generally defined as the The arts, art of arranging sound to create some combination of Musical form, form, harmony, melody, rhythm or otherwise Musical expression, expressive content. Exact definition of music, definitions of mu ...
al devices such as assonance, alliteration, rhyme, and
rhythm Rhythm (from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''rhythmos'', "any regular repetition (music), recurring motion, symmetry#Symmetry in music, symmetry") generally means a "motion, movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of o ...
, and by being set in lines and verses rather than paragraphs, and more recently its use of other typographical elements. This distinction is complicated by various hybrid forms such as sound poetry, concrete poetry and prose poem, and more generally by the fact that prose possesses rhythm. Abram Lipsky refers to it as an "open secret" that "prose is not distinguished from poetry by lack of rhythm". Prior to the 19th century, poetry was commonly understood to be something set in metrical lines: "any kind of subject consisting of or Verses". Possibly as a result of
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatet ...
's influence (his '' Poetics''), "poetry" before the 19th century was usually less a technical designation for verse than a normative category of fictive or rhetorical art.Ross, "The Emergence of 'Literature': Making and Reading the English Canon in the Eighteenth Century", 398 As a form it may pre-date
literacy Literacy in its broadest sense describes "particular ways of thinking about and doing reading and writing" with the purpose of understanding or expressing thoughts or ideas in Writing, written form in some specific context of use. In other wo ...
, with the earliest works being composed within and sustained by an oral tradition; hence it constitutes the earliest example of literature.


Prose

As noted above,
prose Prose is a form of written or spoken language that follows the natural speech, natural flow of speech, uses a language's ordinary Grammar, grammatical structures, or follows the conventions of formal academic writing. It differs from most traditio ...
generally makes far less use of the aesthetic qualities of language than poetry. However, developments in modern literature, including free verse and prose poetry have tended to blur the differences, and American poet T.S. Eliot suggested that while: "the distinction between verse and prose is clear, the distinction between
poetry Poetry (derived from the Greek '' poiesis'', "making"), also called verse, is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and often rhythmic qualities of language − such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre The metre (Brit ...
and prose is obscure". There are verse novels, a type of narrative poetry in which a novel-length narrative is told through the medium of poetry rather than prose. '' Eugene Onegin'' (1831) by
Alexander Pushkin Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin (; rus, links=no, Александр Сергеевич ПушкинIn pre-Revolutionary script, his name was written ., r=Aleksandr Sergeyevich Pushkin, p=ɐlʲɪkˈsandr sʲɪrˈɡʲe(j)ɪvʲɪtɕ ˈpuʂkʲɪn, ...
is the most famous example. On the historical development of prose, Richard Graff notes that "[In the case of ancient Greece] recent scholarship has emphasized the fact that formal prose was a comparatively late development, an "invention" properly associated with the Classical antiquity, classical period".
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
was a major influence on the development of prose in many European countries. Especially important was the great Roman orator Cicero. It was the ''lingua franca'' among literate Europeans until quite recent times, and the great works of Descartes (1596 – 1650), Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), and Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677) were published in Latin. Among the last important books written primarily in Latin prose were the works of Emanuel Swedenborg, Swedenborg (d. 1772), Carl Linnaeus, Linnaeus (d. 1778), Leonhard Euler, Euler (d. 1783), Carl Friedrich Gauss, Gauss (d. 1855), and Isaac Newton (d. 1727).


Novel

A
novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself ...
is a long fictional prose narrative. In English, the term emerged from the Romance languages in the late 15th century, with the meaning of "news"; it came to indicate something new, without a distinction between fact or fiction. The romance is a closely related long prose narrative. Walter Scott defined it as "a fictitious narrative in prose or verse; the interest of which turns upon marvelous and uncommon incidents", whereas in the novel "the events are accommodated to the ordinary train of human events and the modern state of society". Other European languages do not distinguish between romance and novel: "a novel is ''le roman'', ''der Roman'', ''il romanzo''",Doody (1996), p. 15. indicates the proximity of the forms. Although there are many historical prototypes, so-called "novels before the novel", the modern novel form emerges late in cultural history—roughly during the eighteenth century. Initially subject to much criticism, the novel has acquired a dominant position amongst literary forms, both popularly and critically.


Novella

The publisher Melville House Publishing, Melville House classifies the novella as "too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story". Publishers and literary award societies typically consider a novella to be between 17,000 and 40,000 words.


Short story

A dilemma in defining the "short story" as a literary form is how to, or whether one should, distinguish it from any short narrative and its contested origin, that include the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek , , 'the books') is a collection of religious texts or scriptures that are held to be sacredness, sacred in Christianity, Judaism, Samaritanism, and many other religions. The Bible is an anthologya compilation of ...
, and Edgar Allan Poe.


Graphic novel

Graphic novels and comic books present stories told in a combination of artwork, dialogue, and text.


Electronic literature

Electronic literature is a literary genre consisting of works created exclusively on and for digital devices.


Nonfiction

Common literary examples of nonfiction include, the essay; travel literature and nature writing;
biography A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person's experience of these life events. Unlike a profile or c ...
, autobiography and
memoir A memoir (; , ) is any nonfiction narrative writing based in the author's personal memories. The assertions made in the work are thus understood to be factual. While memoir has historically been defined as a subcategory of biography or autobiog ...
; journalism; Letter (message), letters; Diary, journals; history, Philosophy and literature#Philosophical writing as literature, philosophy, economics; scientific writing, scientific, and technical writing, technical writings. Nonfiction can fall within the broad category of literature as "any collection of written work", but some works fall within the narrower definition "by virtue of the excellence of their writing, their originality and their general aesthetic and artistic merits".


Drama

Drama Drama is the specific Mode (literature), mode of fiction Mimesis, represented in performance: a Play (theatre), play, opera, mime, ballet, etc., performed in a theatre, or on Radio drama, radio or television.Elam (1980, 98). Considered as a g ...
is literature intended for performance. The form is combined with music and dance in opera and musical theatre (see libretto). A Play (theatre), play is a written dramatic work by a playwright that is intended for performance in a theatre; it comprises chiefly dialogue between Fictional character, characters. A closet drama, by contrast, is written to be read rather than to be performed; the meaning of which can be realized fully on the page. Nearly all drama took verse form until comparatively recently. The earliest form of which there exists substantial knowledge is Greek theatre, Greek drama. This developed as a performance associated with religion, religious and civic festivals, typically enacting or developing upon well-known history, historical, or mythology, mythological themes, In the twentieth century Screenplay, scripts written for non-stage media have been added to this form, including radio drama, radio, television and film.


Law


Law and literature

The law and literature movement focuses on the interdisciplinary connection between law and literature.


Copyright

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form. Copyright is intended to protect the original expression of an idea in the form of a creative work, but not the idea itself.


United Kingdom

Literary works have been protected by copyright law from unauthorized reproduction since at least 1710. Literary works are defined by copyright law to mean "any work, other than a dramatic or musical work, which is written, spoken or sung, and accordingly includes (a) a table or compilation (other than a database), (b) a computer program, (c) preparatory design material for a computer program, and (d) a database." Literary works are all works of literature; that is all works expressed in print or writing (other than dramatic or musical works).


United States

The copyright law of the United States has a long and complicated history, dating back to colonial times. It was established as federal law with the Copyright Act of 1790. This act was updated many times, including a Copyright Act of 1976, major revision in 1976.


European Union

The copyright law of the European Union is the copyright law applicable within the European Union. Copyright law is largely harmonized in the Union, although country to country differences exist. The body of law was implemented in the EU through a number of Directive (European Union), directives, which the member states need to enact into their national law. The main copyright directives are the Copyright Term Directive, the Information Society Directive and the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market. Copyright in the Union is furthermore dependent on international conventions to which the European Union is a member (such as the TRIPS Agreement and conventions to which all Member States are parties (such as the Berne Convention)).


Copyright in communist countries


Copyright in Japan

Copyright in Japan, Japan was a party to the original Berne convention in 1899, so its copyright law is in sync with most international regulations. The convention protected copyrighted works for 50 years after the author's death (or 50 years after publication for unknown authors and corporations). However, in 2004 Japan extended the copyright term to 70 years for cinematographic works. At the end of 2018, as a result of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, the 70 year term was applied to all works. This new term is not applied retroactively; works that had entered the public domain between 1999 and 2018 by expiration would remain in the public domain.


Censorship

Censorship of literature is employed by states, religious organizations, educational institutions, etc., to control what can be portrayed, spoken, performed, or written. Generally such bodies attempt to ban works for sedition, political reasons, or because they deal with other controversial matters such as race, or obscenity, sex. A notorious example of censorship is James Joyce's novel Ulysses (novel), Ulysses, which has been described by Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov as a "divine work of art" and the greatest masterpiece of 20th century prose. It was Obscenity trial of Ulysses in The Little Review, banned in the United States from 1921 until 1933 on the grounds of obscenity. Nowadays it is a central literary text in English literature courses, throughout the world.


Awards

There are numerous Literary award, awards recognizing achievement and contribution in literature. Given the diversity of the field, awards are typically limited in scope, usually on: form,
genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a Category of being, category of literature, ...
, language, nationality and output (e.g. for first-time writers or debut novels). The Nobel Prize in Literature was one of the six Nobel Prizes established by the will of Alfred Nobel in 1895, and is awarded to an author on the basis of their body of work, rather than to, or for, a particular work itself. Other literary prizes for which all nationalities are eligible include: the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Man Booker International Prize, Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Pulitzer Prize, Hugo Award for Best Novel, Hugo Award, Guardian First Book Award and the Franz Kafka Prize.


See also

*Outline of literature *Index of literature articles


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* An overview of several hundred short stories. * * Brief summary of major periods in literary history of the Western tradition.


External links


Project Gutenberg Online Library

Internet Book List
similar to Internet Movie Database, IMDb but for books
Internet Archive Digital eBook Collection
{{Authority control Literature,