Literature (from Latin litterae (plural); letter) is the art of written work and can, in some circumstances, refer exclusively to published sources. The word literature literally means "things made from letters" and the pars pro toto term "letters" is sometimes used to signify "literature," as in the figures of speech "arts and letters" and "man of letters." Literature is commonly classified as having two major forms—fiction and non-fiction—and two major techniques—poetry and prose.
Literature may consist of texts based on factual information (journalistic or non-fiction), as well as on original imagination, such as polemical works as well as autobiography, and reflective essays as well as belles-lettres. Literature can be classified according to historical periods, genres, and political influences. The concept of genre, which earlier was limited, has broadened over the centuries. A genre consists of artistic works which fall within a certain central theme, and examples of genre include romance, mystery, crime, fantasy, erotica, and adventure, among others. Important historical periods in English literature include Old English, Middle English, the Renaissance, the 17th Century Shakespearean and Elizabethan times, the 18th Century Restoration, 19th Century Victorian, and 20th Century Modernism. Important political movements that have influenced literature include feminism, post-colonialism, psychoanalysis, post-structuralism, post-modernism, romanticism, and Marxism.
Famous quotes containing the word literature:
“I am not fooling myself with dreams of immortality, know how relative all literature is, dont have any faith in mankind, derive enjoyment from too few things. Sometimes these crises give birth to something worth while, sometimes they simply plunge one deeper into depression, but, of course, it is all part of the same thing.”
—Stefan Zweig (18811942)
“The high-water mark, so to speak, of Socialist literature is W.H. Auden, a sort of gutless Kipling.”
—George Orwell (19031950)
“I did toy with the idea of doing a cook-book.... The recipes were to be the routine ones: how to make dry toast, instant coffee, hearts of lettuce and brownies. But as an added attraction, at no extra charge, my idea was to put a fried egg on the cover. I think a lot of people who hate literature but love fried eggs would buy it if the price was right.”
—Groucho Marx (18951977)