What is Literature?

  • What is literature?

Literature is an artistic expression of significant human experience (SHE) using the medium of language. In general, it refers to all recorded knowledge on thought. In its wider meaning, it includes everything that has been expressed through the written or the printed page.

Literature is an art expressing beauty to the medium of language; a recreation through language of human situation and experience; the orchestration of the manifold but elemental experiences of man blended into harmonious and desired patterns of expressions and a faithful reproduction of life executed in an artistic pattern.

In its restricted sense, it has a special object to serve, not only to give pleasures to the readers through the expression of true and beautiful thoughts in fitting language but also to fire the imagination and to arouse noble unselfish emotions. True literature is concerned with the needs of our higher nature. It is a creative work of art which expresses the truth of experience in terms of beauty to be contemplated and which meets the human necessity for communicating that which has intellectual and social significance.

Literature is (a) imaginative or creative writing, (b) distinguished writing, with deep sublime, noble feelings.  It includes oral tradition passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth (eg. proverbs, myths, legends, epic, folk song, etc.). Philosophically, literature is an idealistic work on the human condition.

In the past, literary works were recited or sung, and were retained only as long as people performed these oral acts by which these literary traditions are handed down from generation to generation. In some societies, these oral traditions of literature still exist, with most poems and stories being spoken rather than read from the pages of a book. Even today parents delight their children with stories and poems; poets and storywriters read their works to live audiences; and plays and scripts are interpreted on stage or before cameras.


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