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What is Literature

Updated on March 23, 2020
Anas Tariq 287 profile image

Anas Tariq is student of BS-English . He studies at Department of English and Applied Linguistics , University of Peshawar.

What is Literature

Written piece which reflects human emotions, nature and society is called literature.

Literature is very broad term. It covers wide range of ideas. Single definition of Literature might not be possible. Everyone defines it according to his/her own views. I myself admire definition of T.S.Eliot, “The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink". This definition can be elaborated by describing allegories of blood and ink. Blood basically denotes elements which reside inside human body. These are abstract elements which can be only felt I.e. zeal , love , hate , anger , enthusiasm, courage , cowardice , zealous , hope , etc.
This definition basically romanticizes literature and literature in fact is romantic but it covers only one aspect of literature.
I myself define literature as , The written piece which reflects human emotions , nature and society.
Life is time span of an individual from birth to death . Literature is directly related to life of an individual because it basically reflects life. It surfaced positive , negative and love , hate and hurdles and comforts of life .
Everything which surrounds our body is nature one is outside nature one is inside nature which is combination of mind and heart. Both have great impact on the life of an individual and also glorify literature. William Wordsworth was pantheist. He considers nature a living force . He celebrates nature to find God in it and learn morality from nature. In one of his poem “My Heart Leaps up” he uses element of nature, rainbow, to be in the celestial light.
Literature is basically divided into fiction and non- fiction literature .
Fiction literature includes imagination and has fictitious characters which are not real but exist in mind of writer. It includes poetry , drama , novel and story. Non-fiction literature is not dependent on imagination and characterization I.e. Essays and biographies.
Story, drama, novel and poetry are genres of fiction and are different from each other.
According to William Wordsworth poetry is spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquillity.
"Poetry is emotion put into measure. Thomas Hardy".
"Poetry is the language of the imagination and the passions". William Hazlitt.
Story and novel are series of events but have different scope of action I.e. Story has short scope of action while novel has long scope of action , (scope of action is the description of space and time). Moreover, We can also differentiate story and novel by elements i.e. story has plot while sub-plot is not mandatory , story has two to three characters while in novel sub-plot is mandatory and has more characters.
Drama is different genre in which there is no narration. It is live actions of characters. Drama rely on exchange of dialogues.
Essay basically emerges in English literature after Francis Bacon. The meaning of essay is to do something new. Essay is the combination of paragraphs which describes certain subject.
It is pertinent to mention significance of literature. Their are many important questions originates in the mind of individual. Like , why we study literature and why someone write different things. What are effects and importance of literature.
Literature is the stream of ideas. It is the world of developed thoughts. It contain experiences of veteran personalities. It discusses all ups and downs of life. Literature may have authentic description of future. It is said that poets create world of imagination and on the power of imagination they think ahead of their time while scientists and engineers deal with existing time. Whatsoever imagine by poets come into existence later on. The cars , the aeroplanes and large machines are result of prolong imagination.
So, whosoever study literature will take advantage from ideas and experiences of writers. The reader will have developed thoughts and will better know how to deal with life . Literature also make person civilised, according to , Bertrand Russell , civilisation is not development of material adjuncts , it is basically development of thought and literature develops it.
Now imagine society where everyone read , read and read . They will have develop positive and constructive thoughts and in turn they will make civilised society.
Does every written material is good literature. Answer will be no. It is because if literature promulgate filthy ideas , negative experiences then it will pollute reader’s mind and will make negative development. Now important thing is , why someone write something bad and negative. It is because of society.
Society and literature are interconnected , society shape literature while literature shape society.
“Literature is reflection of society" is very common definition of literature and it makes clear the affects of literature and society on each other. The things which we see in literature are mostly present in society. Literature of certain region basically reflects: norms, behaviours , rituals, culture and religion of that region. So , if the behaviours and norms of society are well organized then literature of that society will be rich , serious and worthy . It is a common stance that “degradation of literature is degradation of society" . I.e. if society is involve in sullen affairs then it will make literature indecent. In short, we can say that society and literature influence each other.
This is short article in which I have tried my best to surfaced all important ideas related to literature. Such that , literature is a written piece which reflects human emotions, nature and society. It may be fiction and non- fiction . How society and literature are interconnected to each other.

Written by : Anas Tariq

Writer currently studies at Department of English & Applied Linguistics
University of Peshawar.

© 2020 Anas Tariq


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