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Portal:Literature

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The Literature Portal

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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

Gabriel García Márquez in 2002
The General in His Labyrinth is a novel by the Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez. It is a fictionalized account of the last days of Simón Bolívar, liberator and leader of Gran Colombia. First published in 1989, the book traces Bolívar's final journey from Bogotá to the Caribbean coastline of Colombia in his attempt to leave South America for exile in Europe. In this dictator novel about a continental hero, "despair, sickness, and death inevitably win out over love, health, and life". Breaking with the traditional heroic portrayal of Bolívar El Libertador, García Márquez depicts a pathetic protagonist, a prematurely aged man who is physically ill and mentally exhausted. The story explores the labyrinth of Bolívar's life through the narrative of his memories.

García Márquez's insertion of interpretive and fictionalized elements—some dealing with Bolívar's most intimate moments—caused outrage in parts of Latin America when the book was released. Many prominent Latin American figures believed that the novel damaged the reputation of one of the region's most important historic figures and portrayed a negative image to the outside world. Others saw The General in His Labyrinth as a tonic for Latin American culture and a challenge to the region to deal with its problems.

Selected figure

1913 photograph of Ezra Pound
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (30 October 1885 – 1 November 1972) was an expatriate American poet and critic who was a major figure of the early modernist movement. His contribution to poetry began with his development of Imagism, a movement derived from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry, stressing clarity, precision and economy of language. His best-known works include Ripostes (1912), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) and the unfinished 120-section epic, The Cantos (1917–69).

Outraged by the carnage of World War I, Pound lost faith in England. He moved to Italy in 1924, and throughout the 1930s and 1940s embraced fascism. During World War II the Italian government paid him to make hundreds of radio broadcasts criticizing the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Jews. As a result, he was arrested by American forces in Italy in 1945 on charges of treason. While in custody he had begun work on sections of The Cantos that became known as The Pisan Cantos (1948), for which he was awarded the Bollingen Prize in 1949 by the Library of Congress, triggering enormous controversy. His political views ensure that his work remains as controversial now as it was during his lifetime; Hemingway nevertheless wrote: "The best of Pound's writing – and it is in the Cantos – will last as long as there is any literature."

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Dalziel Brothers - Sir Walter Scott - Rob Roy in the Crypt of Glasgow Cathedral.jpg
Credit: Brothers Dalziel

Rob Roy is a historical novel by Walter Scott. It is narrated son of an English merchant who travels to the North of England and the Scottish Highlands to collect a debt, encountering the title character, Rob Roy MacGregor, along the way. This illustration depicts Rob Roy (left) delivering a message to the narrator, which results in the narrator becoming involved in the Jacobite risings.

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Today in literature

27 May

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Regions: Australian literature · Indian literature · Persian literature

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