Faizal Risdianto,S.S,M.Hum 4 INTRODUCTION TO LITERATURE
CHAPTER II ENGLISH LITERATURE
WHAT’S ENGLISH LITERATURE? To answer this question, you should first know the meaning of literature? There are a
lot of definitions of literature. Some short explanation on it would be useful for you. Very often it simply means anything that is written: time tables, dialogues, textbooks, travel brochures and so on. If you are thinking of buying a bicycle or a motorcycle or a washing machine, you will probably want to see the literature about it. If you are medical student, you will have to read the literature about surgery. An advertisement for soap is as much literature as Shakespeare’s plays or Dickens’s novels. So, we may conclude all written materials, like this general grouping: historical books, magazines, newspapers, dictionaries, novels, catalogues, plays, short stories, encyclopedias, etc. We can divide this large mass of material into two different groups. The first one mainly presents information and the next mainly gives some entertainment. In English we use the word in at least two different ways: Informative literature and imaginative literature. Informative literature tells us about facts, explanations, history, real ‘great’ life figure, etc. It tells us the world, for instance, the life of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, The story of Malcolm-X, etc. Its main purpose is to offer knowledge. Hence, there is also imaginative literature that aims to arouse thoughts and feelings. Its author expresses his ideas, his feelings, his attitude, he may talks of things; people, etc. He wants to communicate feelings, not facts; emotion, not information only. Imaginative literature according to many men of letters and writers has fuller and deeper sense than informative literature. Now when we use the term of literature in this book, we will be talking about written material that deals with thought and feelings in imaginative or ‘serious’ literature. This kind of literature we will discuss, the one that appeals to the imagination rather than to the intellect; to 4
Faizal Risdianto,S.S,M.Hum 5 INTRODUCTION TO LITERATURE
the emotion rather than to the reason of the reader. Rees defines this kind of literature is writing which expresses and communicate thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards life. In addition, there is a little note for the definition of literature. Many of the things we now call literature began to live without being written at all. Long time ago before we can read the printed forms of their literary works, there were narrators who moved from place to place to tell stories. Even today we find folks songs and comic verses passing from person to person by word of mouth. In English literature we see the word ‘ballad’, a simple, spirited poem in short stanzas, narrating some popular story, there were old songs, legends, folk stories, or folk tales handed down from mouth to mouth since people had not known alphabets. Thus, we see what is called oral literature. Some epics were told, several lyrics were presented orally, even they were sometimes “sung” or accompanied with certain musical instruments to attract audience. Plays were prepared and performed from place to place. Literature is generally divided into tree groups, respectively prose, drama, and poetry. Prose uses language not in verse form, e.g., novels, short stories, novellas, etc. Drama is play with its act(s) and its scenes in dialogues, conversations, comedies, tragedies, tragic-comedies, etc. Poetry is the art of poets; poems, in verse form, e.g. ballads, epics, lyrical poetry, etc. There will be further discussions in details on each group above. What is Literature? * It is sometimes defined as ‘anything written’. * However we can surely distinguish between literature in the sense of any writing and literature in the sense of verbal works of art. * Robert Frost said,” Literature is a performance in words” * Another...
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