in its broadest sense, is any written work; etymologically the term derives from Latin literatura/litteratura "writing formed with letters", although some definitions include spoken or sung texts. More restrictively, it is writing that possesses literary merit, and language that foregrounds literariness, as opposed to ordinary language. 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).
A calligram by Guillaume Apollinaire. These are a type of poem in which the written words are arranged in such a way to produce a visual image. Poetry is a form of literary art which uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, prosaic ostensible meaning. Poetry has traditionally been distinguished from prose by its being set in verse;[a] prose is cast in sentences, poetry in lines; the syntax of prose is dictated by meaning, whereas that of poetry is held across metre or the visual aspects of the poem. Prior to the nineteenth century, poetry was commonly understood to be something set in metrical lines; accordingly, in 1658 a definition of poetry is "any kind of subject consisting of Rythm or Verses". Possibly as a result of Aristotle's influence (his Poetics), "poetry" before the nineteenth century was usually less a technical designation for verse than a normative category of fictive or rhetorical art. As a form it may pre-date literacy, with the earliest works being composed within and sustained by an oral tradition; hence it constitutes the earliest example of literature.
Prose is a form of language that possesses ordinary syntax and natural speech rather than rhythmic structure; in which regard, along with its measurement in sentences rather than lines, it differs from poetry. On the historical development of prose, Richard Graff notes that "[In the case of Ancient Greece] recent scholarship has emphasized the fact that formal prose was a comparatively late development, an "invention" properly associated with the classical period".
a long fictional prose narrative. It was the form's close relation to real life that differentiated it from the chivalric romance; in most European languages the equivalent term is roman, indicating the proximity of the forms. In English, the term emerged from the Romance languages in the late fifteenth century, with the meaning of "news"; it came to indicate something new, without a distinction between fact or fiction. Although there are many historical prototypes, so-called "novels before the novel", the modern novel form emerges late in cultural history—roughly during the eighteenth century. Initially subject to much criticism, the novel has acquired a dominant position amongst literary forms, both popularly and critically.
in purely quantitative terms, the novella exists between the novel and short story; the publisher Melville House classifies it as "Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story". There is no precise definition in terms of word or page count. Literary prizes and publishing houses often have their own arbitrary limits, which vary according to their particular intentions. Summarising the variable definitions of the novella, William Giraldi concludes "[it is a form] whose identity seems destined to be disputed into perpetuity". It has been suggested that the size restriction of the form produces various stylistic results, both some that are shared with the novel or short story, and others unique to the form.
a dilemma in defining the...
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