Open main menu

Introduction

Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.

Its Latin root literatura/litteratura (derived itself from littera: letter or handwriting) was used to refer to all written accounts. The concept has changed meaning over time to include texts that are spoken or sung (oral literature), and non-written verbal art forms. Developments in print technology have allowed an ever-growing distribution and proliferation of written works, culminating in electronic literature.

Selected work

Margaret Atwood in 2006
The Penelopiad is a novella by Margaret Atwood. It was published in 2005 as part of the first set of books in the Canongate Myth Series where contemporary authors rewrite ancient myths. In The Penelopiad, Penelope reminisces on the events during the Odyssey, life in Hades, Odysseus, Helen, and her relationships with her parents. A chorus of the twelve maids, whom Odysseus believed were disloyal and whom Telemachus hanged, interrupt Penelope's narrative to express their view on events. The maids' interludes use a new genre each time, including a jump-rope rhyme, a lament, an idyll, a ballad, a lecture, a court trial and several types of songs.

The novella's central themes include the effects of story-telling perspectives, double standards between the sexes and the classes, and the fairness of justice. Atwood had previously used characters and storylines from Greek mythology in fiction such as her novel The Robber Bride, short story The Elysium Lifestyle Mansions and poems "Circe: Mud Poems" and "Helen of Troy Does Counter Dancing" but used Robert Graves' The Greek Myths and E. V. Rieu and D. C. H. Rieu's version of the Odyssey to prepare for this novella.

Selected figure

1913 photograph of Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (30 October 1885 – 1 November 1972) was an expatriate American poet and critic who was a major figure of the early modernist movement. His contribution to poetry began with his development of Imagism, a movement derived from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry, stressing clarity, precision and economy of language. His best-known works include Ripostes (1912), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) and the unfinished 120-section epic, The Cantos (1917–69).

Outraged by the carnage of World War I, Pound lost faith in England. He moved to Italy in 1924, and throughout the 1930s and 1940s embraced fascism. During World War II the Italian government paid him to make hundreds of radio broadcasts criticizing the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Jews. As a result, he was arrested by American forces in Italy in 1945 on charges of treason. While in custody he had begun work on sections of The Cantos that became known as The Pisan Cantos (1948), for which he was awarded the Bollingen Prize in 1949 by the Library of Congress, triggering enormous controversy. His political views ensure that his work remains as controversial now as it was during his lifetime; Hemingway nevertheless wrote: "The best of Pound's writing – and it is in the Cantos – will last as long as there is any literature."

Selected excerpt

Subcategories

Click [+] or ► to view subcategories

Selected illustration

Water Babies(Restored, Alternate crop 2).jpg
Credit: Jessie Willcox Smith

The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby is a didactic moral fable written in the 1860s by Reverend Charles Kingsley. Its themes include Christian redemption, support of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, and opposition to child labor. This illustration depicts the protagonist, having been newly transformed into a water baby, learning from a salmon and his wife of the existence of other water babies.

Did you know

Today in literature

21 July

Topics

Literature: History of literature · History of the book · Literary criticism · Literary theory · Publishing
By genre: Biography · Comedy · Drama · Epic · Erotic · Fable · Fantasy · Historical fiction · Horror · Mystery · Narrative nonfiction · Nonsense · Lyric · Mythopoeia · Poetry · Romance · Satire · Science fiction · Tragedy · Tragicomedy · more...
By region: African literature · Asian · European · Latin American · North American · Oceanic
By era: Ancient literature · Early medieval · Medieval · Renaissance · Early Modern · Modern
By century: 10th century in literature · 11th · 12th · 13th · 14th · 15th · 16th · 17th · 18th · 19th · 20th · 21st
Recent: 2018 in literature· 2017 · 2016 · 2015 · 2014 · 2013 · 2012 · 2011 · 2010 · 2009 · 2008 · 2007 · more...

Things you can do

Related portals

Related WikiProjects

WikiProjects related to literature:

Concepts: Biographies · Books · Comics · Magazines · Manga · Novels · Poetry · Short stories · Translation studies
Genres: Alternate history · Children's literature · Crime · Fantasy · Horror · Mythology · Romance · Science fiction
Authors: Honoré de Balzac · Roald Dahl · William Shakespeare
Series: Artemis Fowl · Chronicles of Narnia · Discworld · Harry Potter · His Dark Materials · Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy · Inheritance Cycle · James Bond · King Arthur · Middle-earth · Percy Jackson · Redwall · A Series of Unfortunate Events · Shannara · Sherlock Holmes · A Song of Ice and Fire · Star Wars · Sword of Truth · Twilight · Warriors · Water Margin · Wizard of Oz
Regions: Australian literature · Indian literature · Persian literature

Associated Wikimedia

The following Wikimedia Foundation sister projects provide more on this subject:

Wikibooks
Books

Commons
Media

Wikinews 
News

Wikiquote 
Quotations

Wikisource 
Texts

Wikiversity
Learning resources

Wiktionary 
Definitions

Wikidata 
Database