Definitions of Literature (Cited) Essay

2230 Words Oct 14th, 2011 9 Pages
Definitions
Literature (from Latin litteraetantri (plural); letter) is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources (although, under circumstances unpublished sources can be exempt). Literally translated, the word literature means "acquaintance with letters" (as in the "arts and letters"). The two major classification of literature are poetry and prose.
"Literature" is at times differentiated from popular and ephemeral classes of writing. Terms such as "literary fiction" and "literary merit" are used to distinguish individual works as art-literature rather than vernacular writing, and some critics exclude works from being "literary", for example, on grounds of weak or faulty style, use of slang, poor characterization
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Nations can have literatures, as can corporations, philosophical schools or historical periods. Popular belief commonly holds that the literature of a nation, for example, comprises the collection of texts which make it a whole nation.

The Hebrew Bible, Persian Shahnama, the Indian Mahabharata, Ramayana and Thirukural, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Beowulf, and the Constitution of the United States, all fall within this definition of a kind of literature.
More generally, one can equate a literature with a collection of stories, poems, and plays that revolve around a particular topic. In this case, the stories, poems and plays may or may not have nationalistic implications. The Western Canon forms one such literature.

The term "literature" has different meanings depending on who is using it and in what context. It could be applied broadly to mean any symbolic record, encompassing everything from images and sculptures to letters. In a more narrow sense the term could mean only text composed of letters, or other examples of symbolic written language (Egyptian hieroglyphs, for example). An even more narrow interpretation is that text have a physical form, such as on paper or some other portable form, to the exclusion of inscriptions or digital media.
Furthermore, people may perceive a difference between "literature" and some popular forms of written work. The terms "literary fiction" and "literary merit" often serve to distinguish between individual

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