The Meaning and Categories of Literature

What is Literature Meaning in English?

Literature is any written work that has artistic and intellectual value. It can be found in many different forms and genres, and is used to convey important ideas and messages to readers.

The term literature comes from the Latin word litera, which means “writing formed with letters.” It can include poetry, drama, fiction and nonfiction.

Definition of Literature

Literature, at its simplest, refers to any written work. It can also be defined more narrowly as writings that possess artistic and cultural merit, which may be separated into major categories such as poetry, fiction and drama.

For many critics, determining what makes something Literature involves establishing a canon. A work can be called Literature if it is included in this canon and if it is well-received by readers and critics. But this approach has its problems. Not all canonical works are considered to have lasting value, and a book like Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, which was not well received when it first appeared in 1851, has now found a place in the literary canon.

More recent approaches to defining literature are more subjective. They try to identify prototypical characteristics that most literary works share. These include a focus on the use of language, adherence to literary genres and styles, and the use of figurative language.

Time Periods of Literature

Literature is categorized into different time periods or epochs. These eras are based on the social and cultural influences of a particular period. These eras are also grouped according to their philosophy or ideology, aesthetic, and school of thought.

For example, during the Victorian era, the novel became a popular literary genre. This was due to the influence of industrialization and the rapid upheavals of society. The era was marked by the rise of women as authors and readers. It was also the time of such famous works as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Rudyard Kipling’s Kim and the Jungle Book, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass.

Other important literature periods include the Renaissance, and the Modernist and Postmodernist eras. The last of these eras is harder to define, but can be classified as a reaction against the previous one, with such works as Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar.

Characteristics of Literature

The term literature, etymologically at least, has something to do with letters, or writing. It is an art form which, according to many theories, foregrounds language in ways that are artistic. But the line between what constitutes literature and other forms of written communication can be a fine one. For example, a literary work may be a book such as the works of Shakespeare or Webster but might also include some legislative statutes of parliaments, the poems of Shelley and Marvell or the private letters of V. S. Naipaul.

The characteristics of literature are often grouped into four categories — plot, setting, characterization and theme. Plot deals with occurrences in a piece of literature; setting deals with where these occurrences happen; characterization deals with the people involved in these occurrences; and theme talks about how the occurrences are connected to each other. The other main feature of literature is figurative language. This involves creating images that reflect the way we perceive and experience our lives.

Themes in Literature

A literary theme is a meaningful main idea that the author explores in a story. It can be expressed through various characters, actions, and settings in the novel. The themes in literature may be major or minor, and they can relate to a variety of topics. Some popular literature themes include love, good vs. evil, and redemption.

Themes in literature often involve the human experience, such as the struggle of an individual against society or their own expectations. This may be explored through the theme of innocence vs experience, such as in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” where young boys stranded on an island gradually lose their childhood innocence and become violent savages, or in Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” where an individual struggles between conformity and rebellion.

Other common literature themes explore fundamental concepts of life, such as death and rebirth. Themes can also be found in the complexities of relationships and betrayal, such as in Shakespeare’s Macbeth or in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” where social class limitations restrict the Bennet sisters’ marriage prospects.

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