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Portal:Literature

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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

Ernest Hemingway in military uniform in 1918
"Big Two-Hearted River" is a two-part short story written by American author Ernest Hemingway, published in the 1925 Boni & Liveright edition of In Our Time, the first American volume of Hemingway's short stories. It features a single protagonist, Hemingway's recurrent autobiographical character Nick Adams, whose speaking voice is heard just twice. The story explores the destructive qualities of war which is countered by the healing and regenerative powers of nature. When it was published, critics praised Hemingway's sparse writing style and it became an important work in his canon.

The story is one of Hemingway's earliest pieces to employ his Iceberg Theory of writing; a modernist approach to prose in which the underlying meaning is hinted at, rather than explicitly stated. "Big Two-Hearted River" is almost exclusively descriptive and intentionally devoid of plot. Hemingway was influenced by the visual innovations of Cézanne's paintings and adapted the painter's idea of presenting background minutiae in lower focus than the main image. In this story, the small details of a fishing trip are explored in great depth, while the landscape setting, and most obviously the swamp, are given cursory attention.

Selected figure

Chinua Achebe in 2008
Chinua Achebe (born Albert Chinualumogu Achebe; 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, and critic. He was best known for his first novel and magnum opus, Things Fall Apart (1958), which is the most widely read book in modern African literature.

Raised by his parents in the Igbo town of Ogidi in southeastern Nigeria, Achebe excelled at school and won a scholarship for undergraduate studies. He became fascinated with world religions and traditional African cultures, and began writing stories as a university student. He gained worldwide attention for Things Fall Apart in the late 1950s; his later novels include No Longer at Ease (1960), Arrow of God (1964), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987).

A titled Igbo chieftain himself, Achebe's novels focus on the traditions of Igbo society, the effect of Christian influences, and the clash of Western and traditional African values during and after the colonial era. His style relies heavily on the Igbo oral tradition, and combines straightforward narration with representations of folk stories, proverbs, and oratory. He also published a number of short stories, children's books, and essay collections. From 2009 until his death, he served as a professor at Brown University in the United States.

Selected excerpt

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Selected illustration

William Blake - Sconfitta - Frontispiece to The Song of Los.jpg
Credit: William Blake

The Song of Los, written in 1795, is one of William Blake's epic poems, known as prophetic books. The poem consists of two sections, "Africa" and "Asia". In the first section Blake catalogues the decline of morality in Europe, while the second section consists of Los urging revolution. This illustration of Urizen presiding over the decline of morality served as the work's frontispiece.

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23 January

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Regions: Australian literature · Indian literature · Persian literature

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