Part I – The Historical Background
Introduction to the Study of Literature
Definition of Literature:
The word literature is derived from the Latin term litera which means letter. It has been defined differently by various writers.
Some loosely interpret literature as any printed matter written within a book, a magazine or a pamphlet. Others define literature as a faithful reproduction of man’s manifold experiences blended into one harmonious expression.
Because literature deals with ideas, thoughts and emotions of man, literature can be said to be the story of man. Man’s loves, griefs, thoughts, dreams and aspirations coached in beautiful language is literature. In order to know the history of a nation’s spirit, one must read its literature. Hence it is, that to understand the real spirit of a nation, one must “trace the little rills as they course along down the ages, broadening and deepening into the great ocean of thought which men of the present source are presently exploring.”
Brother Azurin, said that “literature expresses the feelings of people to society, to the government, to his surroundings, to his fellowmen and to his Divine Creator.” The expression of one’s feelings, according to him, may be through love, sorrow, happiness, hatred, anger, pity, contempt, or revenge.
For Webster, literature is anything that is printed, as long as it is related to the ideas and feelings of people, whether it is true, or just a product of one’s imagination.
In PANITIKING PILIPINO written by Atienza, Ramos, Salazar and Nazal, it says that “true literature is a piece of written work which is undying. It expresses the feelings and emotions of people in response to his everyday efforts to live, to be happy n his environment and, after struggles, to reach his Creator.” Why We Need to Study Philippine Literature
We can enumerate many reasons for studying literature.
Here are but a few:
We study literature so that we can better appreciate our literary heritage. We cannot appreciate something that we do not understand. Through a study of our literature, we can trace the rich heritage of ideas handed down to us from our forefathers. Then we can understand ourselves better and take pride in being a Filipino.
Like other races of the world, we need to understand that we have a great and noble tradition which can serve as the means to assimilate other cultures.
Through such a study, we will realize our literary limitations conditioned by certain historical factors and we can take steps to overcome them.
Above all, as Filipinos, who truly love and take pride in our own culture, we have to manifest our deep concern for our own literature and this we can do by studying the literature of our country.
Of Philippine Literature in English and Time Frames
It can be said that Philippine literature in English has achieved a stature that is, in a way, phenomenal since the inception of English in our culture.
Our written literature, which is about four hundred years old, is one of slow and evolutionary growth. Our writers strove to express their sentiments while struggling with a foreign medium. The great mass of literature in English that we have today is, indeed, a tribute to what our writers have achieved in the short span of time. What they have written can compare with some of the best works in the world.
Much is still to be achieved. Our writers have yet to write their OPUS MAGNUMS. Meanwhile, history and literature are slowly unfolding before us and we are as witnesses in the assembly lines to an evolving literary life.
Time frames may not be necessary in a study of literature, but since literature and history are inescapably related it has become facilitative to map up a system which will aid us in delineating certain time boundaries.
These time boundaries are not exactly well-defined; very...
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