Indeed, it becomes more and more difficult to categorize literature, for in modern civilization words are everywhere.
Man is subject to a continuous flood of communication.
And indeed its central meaning, at least, is clear enough.
Deriving from the Latin , “a letter of the alphabet,” literature is first and foremost humankind’s entire body of writing; after that it is the body of writing belonging to a given language or people; then it is individual pieces of writing.
Yet through words literature elevates and transforms experience beyond “mere” pleasure.
Literature also functions more broadly in society as a means of both criticizing and affirming cultural values.We currently have over 3500 full books and over 4400 short stories and poems by over 260 authors. Our quotations database has over 8500 quotes, and our quiz system features over 340 quizzes. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work! The name has traditionally been applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose distinguished by the intentions of their authors and the perceived aesthetic excellence of their execution.Some literatures are treated separately by language, by nation, or by special subject (e.g., Arabic literature, Celtic literature, Latin literature, French literature, Japanese literature, and biblical literature).Walter Pater referred to “the matter of imaginative or artistic literature” as a “transcript, not of mere fact, but of fact in its infinitely varied forms.” But such definitions assume that the reader already knows what literature is.when describing literature is itself misleading, for one may speak of “oral literature” or “the literature of preliterate peoples.” The art of literature is not reducible to the words on the page; they are there solely because of the craft of writing.As an art, literature might be described as the organization of words to give pleasure.Some are in a highly polished literary style; others, couched in a privately evolved language, win their standing as literature because of their cogency, insight, depth, and scope.of the 2nd-century Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius are a collection of apparently random thoughts, and the Greek in which they are written is eccentric.