The definition of literature, in the broadest sense, is everything that has everbeen written. Anything from the earliest poems of Homer, to today’s web pages,can be considered literature. But for a specific sense, there are various kindsof literature. Literature can be written in a specific language, like EnglishLiterature or be written by a specific culture, such as African Literature. Butliterature really means more than printed words. It is considered a fine art.
The word literature comes from the French phrase belles-lettres, which means”beautiful writing”. When a piece of work is called literature, it isusually considered a great work of art. There are two main classes ofliterature: fiction and nonfiction. Fiction is writing that an author createsfrom the imagination. Authors may include personal experience, or facts aboutreal people or events, but they combine these facts with imagined situations.
Most fiction is narrative writing, such as novels and short stories. Fictionalso includes drama and poetry. Nonfiction is factual writing about real-lifesituations. The principal forms of nonfiction include the essay, biography,autobiography, and diary. People read literature for a variety of reasons. Themost common reason for reading is pleasure. People read to pass the time, or forinformation and knowledge. Through literature, people meet characters they canidentify with, and sometimes find solutions for their own problems. Withliterature, a person can often understand situations they could not otherwiseunderstand in real life. Often, just the arrangement of the words can beenjoyable, just as a child likes the sound of “Ring Around the Rosie”, eventhough they might not understand what the words mean. There are four elements ofliterature: characters, plot, theme, and style. A good author has the ability tobalance these elements, creating a unified work of art. The characters make upthe central interest of many dramas and novels, as well as biographies andautobiographies. A writer must know each character thoroughly and have a clearidea about each ones look, speech, and thoughts. Motivation is the reason forcharacters actions. A good writer will be sure that the motives of a characterare clear and logical. Setting is where a character’s story takes place. Theplot is built around a series of events that take place within a definiteperiod. It is what happens to the characters. No rules exist for the order inwhich the events are presented. A unified plot has a beginning, middle, and anend. In literary terms, a unified plot includes an exposition, a rising action,a climax, and a denouement, or outcome. The exposition gives the background andsituation of the story. The rising action builds upon the exposition. It createssuspense, or a reader’s desire to find out what happens next. The climax is thehighest point of interest, also a turning point of a story. The denouement isthe conclusion. The theme is the basic idea expressed by a work of literature.
It develops from the interplay of character and plot. A theme may containmorals, to warn the reader to lead a better life or a different kind of life. Aserious writer strives to make his work an honest expression of sentiment, ortrue emotion. They avoid sentimentality, which means giving too much emphasis toemotion or pretending to feel an emotion. A writer of honest emotion does nothave to tell the reader what to think about a story. A good story will directthe reader to the author’s conclusion. Style is the way a writer uses words tocreate literature. It is difficult to enjoy a story’s characters or plot withoutenjoying the author’s style. The style of an author is as important as what heis trying to say. Point of view, or the way a story is presented, is anotherpart of style. A writer may tell a story in the first person, using the pronounI, as though the narrator were a major or minor character in it. Or, the writermay use the third person method, in which the narrator stands apart from thecharacters and describes the action using such pronouns as he and she. There aretwo types of third person views: limited and omniscient. In the third personlimited point of view, the narrator describes the events as seen by a singlecharacter. In the third person omniscient, or all knowing, point of view, thenarrator reports on what several characters are thinking and feeling. Reading isan intently personal art. There