CONCEPTS

What is literature?

We explain what literature is and how this artistic expression arises. Brief historical review. What are the literary genres.

  1. What is literature?

Literature is considered by the Royal Spanish Academy as an artistic expression that is based on the use of language ; In fact, we could say that it is almost any written document. It is also the science that studies literary works and a subject taught in colleges or universities.

Literature is a discipline that uses language aesthetically. The term literature comes from the Latin word  , which refers to the accumulation of knowledge that will guide us to the correct way of writing and reading. There are some definitions that affirm that, in addition to what is written, literature is sung or spoken.

It is also considered as literature the set of books that talk about a specific topic , are of a particular time or a particular genre. What makes a text literary , that is, what forms or converts it into literature, is literature, which is in the use made of language in such texts. This type of language has a particular significance because it is meant to last over time.

  1. Literature History

We can say that literature began when the printing press was invented (by Johannes Gutenberg) in the fifteenth century and the written word began to spread. Later, in the seventeenth century, literature was called poetry or eloquence . Then any text was understood as poetry, regardless of gender and not necessarily in verse .

Only in the eighteenth century was the word literature used for the first time with the current meaning. Anyway, there is a doubt as to what literature may or may not be considered, since there are types of texts that seem not to be typecast in any genre, for example, an autobiography or news .

In England, in the 18th century, it was questioned what was included in the concept of literature and what was not, basically consideration was given to the writings produced by those who belonged to the literate, educated class. There were letters, essays , philosophical texts and poetry in English literature at that time, but texts such as novels had a bad reputation and therefore did not come into consideration. Terry Eagleton defines that the criteria of that time to label something as literature or were not ideological and were according to the values ​​and tastes of the ruling class.

For Roland Barthes, literature is not a set of works or a category, but rather it is the practice of writing . Wolfgang Kayser planned, in the mid-twentieth century, to make a change in the term literature, using “belle lettres” instead so that the written text can be distinguished from speech.

It would be important to note that writings based on drawings , such as hieroglyphics of the Egyptians, are not considered literature .

  1. Literary genres

Literature - Literary Genres
The lyric genre is based on texts that are assigned a specific rhythm.

Literature has genres, that is, types in which the sets of books are classified according to the content of the works, these are called literary genres. Each literary genre is characterized by different semantic, formal or phonological aspects.

There are three major classifications and each one has subgenres:

  • Lyric genre  , developed by writers such as Federico García Lorca. These are texts that are assigned a specific rhythm , thus within which there are, among others, the anthem, the ode , the eclogue, the satire, etc.
  • Epic or narrative genre , in which Miguel de Cervantes is located, which aims to tell a non-true story. Within this genre we have the epic , the deeds of the story , the story and the novel.
  • Dramatic genre , which is a text that aims to act, can be tragedy , comedy , and so on. A writer of this literary genre is Pedro Calderón de la Barca.
  1. Universal literature

Universal literature is part of everyone, since the invention of the alphabet history, customs, messages and culture began to be transmitted also in written form (although we must clarify that until the Middle Ages oral culture lasted).

When we talk about universal literature we refer to those writings that belong to a particular region, but that we consider them as of all humanity , or at least it is thought that everyone should have knowledge of them, as happens with the book The Odyssey; of Homer or Don Quixote de la Mancha; from Miguel de Cervantes.

From the hand of the capitalist system , literature has become one of the largest cultural industries , because books are produced in series, and in some ways culture is also produced . This is why the best sellers were born; that is, the best sellers. This title labels the most successful books in terms of sales or criticism received.

Literary criticism is understood as the discipline dedicated to studying and valuing a text, either positively or negatively. The assessment of this critic is disseminated by the media .

Nowadays, literature has been revolutionized with the advent of virtual books , so the situation of the practice is uncertain, because buying electronic books is cheaper and in turn it reads less and less.

Literature has its greatest distinction in the Nobel Prize and the first award of this type was awarded to Sully Prudhomme, poet and essayist of French origin.

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