Portal:Literature

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The Literature Portal

Books-aj.svg aj ashton 01f.svg
Literature is a term that does not have a universally accepted definition, but which has variably included all written work; writing that possesses literary merit; and language that foregrounds literariness, as opposed to ordinary language. Etymologically the term derives from Latin literatura/litteratura "writing formed with letters", although some definitions include spoken or sung texts. 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).

Literature may consist of texts based on factual information (journalistic or non-fiction), a category that may also include polemical works, biographies, and reflective essays, or it may consist of texts based on imagination (such as fiction, poetry, or drama). Literature written in poetry emphasizes the aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as sound, symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, ordinary meanings, while literature written in prose applies ordinary grammatical structure and the natural flow of speech. Literature can also be classified according to historical periods, genres, and political influences. While the concept of genre has broadened over the centuries, in general, a genre consists of artistic works that fall within a certain central theme; examples of genre include romance, mystery, crime, fantasy, erotica, and adventure, among others.

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Selected work

Miguel Ángel Asturias in 1970
El Señor Presidente (Mister President) is a 1946 novel written in Spanish by Nobel Prize–winning Guatemalan writer and diplomat Miguel Ángel Asturias (1899–1974). A landmark text in Latin American literature, El Señor Presidente explores the nature of political dictatorship and its effects on society. Asturias makes early use of a literary technique now known as magic realism. One of the most notable works of the dictator novel genre, El Señor Presidente developed from an earlier Asturias short story, written to protest social injustice in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in the author's home town.

Although El Señor Presidente does not explicitly identify its setting as early twentieth-century Guatemala, the novel's title character was inspired by the 1898–1920 presidency of Manuel Estrada Cabrera. Asturias began writing the novel in the 1920s and finished it in 1933, but the strict censorship policies of Guatemalan dictatorial governments delayed its publication for thirteen years.

On its eventual publication in Mexico in 1946, El Señor Presidente quickly met with critical acclaim. In 1967, Asturias received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his entire body of work. This international acknowledgment was celebrated throughout Latin America, where it was seen as a recognition of the region's literature as a whole.

Selected figure

Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928) is an American author and poet. She has published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She has received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences.

With the publication of critically acclaimed I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She is respected as a spokesperson of black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Although attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou's major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She has made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet, although her poems have received mixed reviews.

Selected excerpt

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Selected illustration

Charles Robert Leslie - Sir Walter Scott - Ravenswood and Lucy at the Mermaiden's Well - Bride of Lammermoor.jpg
Credit: James Davis Cooper

The Bride of Lammermoor is a historical novel by Sir Walter Scott; a member of his Waverley Novels series. Set in the Lammermuir Hills of south-east Scotland, it tells a tragic love story that Scott indicated was based on an actual incident. This illustration depicts the two lovers, Lucy Ashton and Edgar Ravenswood, the Ashton family's political enemy.

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Today in literature

25 April

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Regions: Australian literature · Indian literature · Persian literature

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