Portal:Literature

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Literature is a term that does not have a universally accepted definition, but which has variably included all written work; writing that possesses literary merit; and language that foregrounds literariness, as opposed to ordinary language. Etymologically the term derives from Latin literatura/litteratura "writing formed with letters", although some definitions include spoken or sung texts. Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and whether it is poetry or prose; it can be further distinguished according to major forms such as the novel, short story or drama; and works are often categorised according to historical periods, or according to their adherence to certain aesthetic features or expectations (genre).

Literature may consist of texts based on factual information (journalistic or non-fiction), a category that may also include polemical works, biographies, and reflective essays, or it may consist of texts based on imagination (such as fiction, poetry, or drama). Literature written in poetry emphasizes the aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as sound, symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, ordinary meanings, while literature written in prose applies ordinary grammatical structure and the natural flow of speech. Literature can also be classified according to historical periods, genres, and political influences. While the concept of genre has broadened over the centuries, in general, a genre consists of artistic works that fall within a certain central theme; examples of genre include romance, mystery, crime, fantasy, erotica, and adventure, among others.

More about literature

Selected work

Illustration of Henry Fielding
The Author's Farce and the Pleasures of the Town is a play by the English playwright and novelist Henry Fielding, first performed on 30 March 1730 at the Little Theatre, Haymarket. Written in response to the Theatre Royal's rejection of his earlier plays, The Author's Farce was Fielding's first theatrical success. The Little Theatre allowed Fielding the freedom to experiment, and to alter the traditional comedy genre. The play ran during the early 1730s and was altered for its run starting 21 April 1730 and again in response to the Actor Rebellion of 1733. Throughout its life, the play was coupled with several different plays.

The first and second acts deal with the attempts of the central character, Harry Luckless, to woo his landlady's daughter, and his efforts to make money by writing plays. In the second act, he finishes a puppet theatre play titled The Pleasures of the Town, about the Goddess Nonsense's choice of a husband from allegorical representatives of theatre and other literary genres. After its rejection by one theatre, Luckless's play is staged at another. The third act becomes a play within a play, in which the characters in the puppet play are portrayed by humans. The Author's Farce ends with a merging of the play's and the puppet show's realities.

Selected figure

A 1797 painting of Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie
Mary Wollstonecraft (27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an eighteenth-century English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason.

Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing. After two ill-fated affairs, with Henry Fuseli and Gilbert Imlay (by whom she had a daughter, Fanny Imlay), Wollstonecraft married the philosopher William Godwin, one of the forefathers of the anarchist movement. After Wollstonecraft's death, her widower published a Memoir (1798) of her life, revealing her unorthodox lifestyle, which inadvertently destroyed her reputation for almost a century. However, with the emergence of the feminist movement at the turn of the twentieth century, Wollstonecraft's advocacy of women's equality and critiques of conventional femininity became increasingly important. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and work as important influences.

Selected excerpt

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Selected illustration

N. M. Price - Sir Walter Scott - Guy Mannering - At the Kaim of Derncleugh.jpg
Credit: N. M. Price

Guy Mannering or The Astrologer is a novel by Sir Walter Scott, published anonymously in 1815. It tells the story of Harry Bertram, the son of the Laird of Ellangowan, who is kidnapped at the age of five, and follows the fortunes and adventures of Harry and his family in subsequent years. This illustration depicts several of the main characters in a ruined hamlet, Dernclough, which serves as a recurring location in the story.

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23 January

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