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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, though contemporary definitions extend the term to include texts that are spoken or sung (oral literature). The concept has changed meaning over time: nowadays it can broaden to have non-written verbal art forms, and thus it is difficult to agree on its origin, which can be paired with that of language or writing itself. Developments in print technology have allowed an ever-growing distribution and proliferation of written works, culminating in electronic literature.

Selected work

An 1870 oil painting by Ford Madox Brown depicting Romeo and Juliet's famous balcony scene
Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare early in his career about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately reconcile their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with Hamlet, is one of his most frequently performed plays.

Romeo and Juliet belongs to a tradition of tragic romances stretching back to antiquity. Its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet by Arthur Brooke in 1562 and retold in prose in Palace of Pleasure by William Painter in 1567. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from both but, to expand the plot, developed supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris. Believed to have been written between 1591 and 1595, the play was first published in a quarto version in 1597.

Shakespeare's use of his poetic dramatic structure, especially effects such as switching between comedy and tragedy to heighten tension, his expansion of minor characters, and his use of sub-plots to embellish the story, has been praised as an early sign of his dramatic skill. The play ascribes different poetic forms to different characters, sometimes changing the form as the character develops. Romeo, for example, grows more adept at the sonnet over the course of the play.

Selected figure

1849 daguerreotype of Poe
Edgar Allan Poe (born Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American author, poet, editor, and literary critic, considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story, and is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. He is further credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.

His publishing career began with an anonymous collection of poems, Tamerlane and Other Poems (1827), credited only to "a Bostonian". Poe switched his focus to prose and spent the next several years working for literary journals and periodicals, becoming known for his own style of literary criticism. His work forced him to move among several cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. In Baltimore in 1835, he married Virginia Clemm, his 13-year-old cousin. In January 1845 Poe published his poem, "The Raven", to instant success. His wife died of tuberculosis two years after its publication. For years, he had been planning to produce his own journal, The Penn (later renamed The Stylus), though he died before it could be produced.

Selected excerpt

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Selected illustration

Alice 05a-1116x1492.jpg
Credit: Sir John Tenniel

The Caterpillar is a character in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a novel that is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. This illustration is noted for its ambiguity; the Caterpillar's head can be viewed as being a human male's face with a pointed nose and pointy chin, or being the head end, with two legs, of an actual caterpillar.

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Today in literature

21 September

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Regions: Australian literature · Indian literature · Persian literature

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