Literature is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose, fiction, drama, poetry, and including both print and digital writing. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to include oral literature, also known as orature much of which has been transcribed. Literature is a method of recording, preserving, and transmitting knowledge and entertainment, and can also have a social, psychological, spiritual, or political role.
Image 6An author portrait of Jean Miélot writing his compilation of the Miracles of Our Lady, one of his many popular works. (from History of books)
Image 7In 1901, French poet and essayist Sully Prudhomme (1839–1907) was the first person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect." (from Nobel Prize in Literature)
While MalcolmX and scholars contemporary to the book's publication regarded Haley as the book's ghostwriter, modern scholars tend to regard him as an essential collaborator who intentionally muted his authorial voice to allow readers to feel as though MalcolmX were speaking directly to them. Haley also influenced some of MalcolmX's literary choices; for example, when MalcolmX left the Nation of Islam during the composition of the book, Haley persuaded him to favor a style of "suspense and drama" rather than rewriting earlier chapters into a polemic against the Nation. Furthermore, Haley's proactive censorship of the manuscript's antisemitic material significantly influenced the ideological tone of the Autobiography, increasing its commercial success and popularity although distorting MalcolmX's public persona.
Owing to his keen observation of detail and unfiltered representation of society, Balzac is regarded as one of the founders of realism in European literature. He is renowned for his multi-faceted characters; even his lesser characters are complex, morally ambiguous and fully human. Inanimate objects are imbued with character as well; the city of Paris, a backdrop for much of his writing, takes on many human qualities. His writing influenced many famous writers, including the novelists Émile Zola, Charles Dickens, Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, and Henry James, and filmmakers François Truffaut and Jacques Rivette. Many of Balzac's works have been made into films and continue to inspire other writers. James called him "really the father of us all." (Full article...)
Amir began writing poetry while still a teenager: though his works are undated, the earliest are thought to have been written when he first travelled to Java. Drawing influences from his own Malay culture and Islam, as well as from Christianity and Eastern literature, Amir wrote 50 poems, 18 pieces of lyrical prose, and numerous other works, including several translations. In 1932 he co-founded the literary magazine Poedjangga Baroe. After his return to Sumatra, he stopped writing. Most of his poems were published in two collections, Nyanyi Sunyi (1937) and Buah Rindu (1941), first in Poedjangga Baroe then as stand-alone books. (Full article...)
Francis bin Fathallah bin Nasrallah Marrash (Arabic: فرنسيس بن فتح الله بن نصر الله مرّاش, ALA-LC: Fransīs bin Fatḥ Allāh bin Naṣr Allāh Marrāsh; 1835, 1836, or 1837 – 1873 or 1874), also known as Francis al-Marrash or Francis Marrash al-Halabi, was a Syrian scholar, publicist, writer and poet of the Nahda or the Arab Renaissance, and a physician. Most of his works revolve around science, history and religion, analysed under an epistemological light. He traveled throughout West Asia and France in his youth, and after some medical training and a year of practice in his native Aleppo, during which he wrote several works, he enrolled in a medical school in Paris; yet, declining health and growing blindness forced him to return to Aleppo, where he produced more literary works until his early death.
Andrade was a central figure in the avant-garde movement of São Paulo for twenty years. Trained as a musician and best known as a poet and novelist, Andrade was personally involved in virtually every discipline that was connected with São Paulo modernism. His photography and essays on a wide variety of subjects, from history to literature and music, were widely published. He was the driving force behind the Modern Art Week, the 1922 event that reshaped both literature and the visual arts in Brazil, and a member of the avant-garde "Group of Five." The ideas behind the Week were further explored in the preface to his poetry collection Pauliceia Desvairada, and in the poems themselves. (Full article...)
Robert Marshall (January 2, 1901–November 11, 1939) was an American forester, writer and wilderness activist who is best remembered as the person who spearheaded the 1935 founding of the Wilderness Society in the United States. Marshall developed a love for the outdoors as a young child. He was an avid hiker and climber who visited the Adirondack Mountains frequently during his youth, ultimately becoming one of the first Adirondack Forty-Sixers. He also traveled to the Brooks Range of the far northern Alaskan wilderness. He wrote numerous articles and books about his travels, including the bestselling 1933 book Arctic Village.
A scientist with a PhD in plant physiology, Marshall became independently wealthy after the death of his father in 1929. He had started his outdoor career in 1925 as forester with the U.S. Forest Service. He used his financial independence for expeditions to Alaska and other wilderness areas. Later he held two significant public appointed posts: chief of forestry in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, from 1933 to 1937, and head of recreation management in the Forest Service, from 1937 to 1939, both during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. During this period, he directed the promulgation of regulations to preserve large areas of roadless land that were under federal management. Many years after his death, some of those areas were permanently protected from development, exploitation, and mechanization with the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. (Full article...)
Gilbert's creative output included over 75 plays and libretti, and numerous short stories, poems and lyrics, both comic and serious. After brief careers as a government clerk and a lawyer, Gilbert began to focus, in the 1860s, on writing light verse, including his Bab Ballads, short stories, theatre reviews and illustrations, often for Fun magazine. He also began to write burlesques and his first comic plays, developing a unique absurdist, inverted style that would later be known as his "topsy-turvy" style. He also developed a realistic method of stage direction and a reputation as a strict theatre director. In the 1870s, Gilbert wrote 40 plays and libretti, including his German Reed Entertainments, several blank-verse "fairy comedies", some serious plays, and his first five collaborations with Sullivan: Thespis, Trial by Jury, The Sorcerer, H.M.S. Pinafore and The Pirates of Penzance. In the 1880s, Gilbert focused on the Savoy operas, including Patience, Iolanthe, The Mikado, The Yeomen of the Guard and The Gondoliers. (Full article...)
Mary's mother died 11 days after giving birth to her. She was raised by her father, who provided her with a rich if informal education, encouraging her to adhere to his own anarchist political theories. When she was four, her father married a neighbour, Mary Jane Clairmont, with whom Mary came to have a troubled relationship. (Full article...)
Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award, recognition as a gifted writer and financial security. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. This sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the depths. (Full article...)
There are no contemporaneous portraits of Du Fu; this is a later artist's impression.
Du Fu (Chinese:杜甫; Wade–Giles:Tu Fu; 712–770) was a Chinese poet and politician during the Tang dynasty. Along with his elder contemporary and friend Li Bai (Li Po), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and his last 15 years were a time of almost constant unrest.
An illustration from the story "The Winged Hats" from the first printing of Rudyard Kipling's 1906 fantasy book Puck of Pook's Hill, featuring the legend "'Hail, Caesar!'".
The book consists of a number of stories, all narrated to two children living near Burwash, in the area of Kipling's own house Bateman's, by people magically plucked out of history by the elf Puck, or told by Puck himself.
Dorothy(left) douses the Wicked Witch of the West with water, melting her, in this illustration from the first edition of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The appearance of the witch in the 1939 film adaptation of the novel has become an archetype for human wickedness. This film is the source of the oft-quoted phrase, "I'll get you, my pretty... and your little dog too!" The unique Broadway musical, Wicked, The Untold Story Of the Witches of Oz, tells of The Wicked Witch of the West, the Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow, and Glinda's shared history.
A scene from Oscar Wilde's 1895 play An Ideal Husband, originally published in a 1901 collected edition of Wilde's works. The comedy, which opened January 3, 1896, at the Haymarket Theatre in London, revolves around blackmail and political corruption, and touches on the themes of public and private honour. It has been adapted into television, radio/audio, and three films. The published version differs slightly from the performed play, for Wilde added many passages and cut others. Prominent additions included written stage directions and character descriptions. Wilde was a leader in the effort to make plays accessible to the reading public.
Hermann Vezin in the title role of Dan'l Druce, Blacksmith, an 1876 play by W. S. Gilbert. In the story, Druce begins as a miser and drunkard whose wife has left him. Two army deserters find shelter at his house, but they rob him and abandon a baby girl there. Many years later, Druce has become a blacksmith, and the two men return to try to claim the girl. The play was a success, running for about 100 performances and enjoying tours and several revivals.
The Hunting of the Snark is a poem composed by the English writer Lewis Carroll between 1874 and 1876, typically characterised as a nonsense poem. The plot follows a crew of ten who cross the ocean to hunt the Snark, which may turn out to be a highly dangerous Boojum. This is the second of Henry Holiday's original illustrations for the first edition of the poem. It introduces some of the crew, whose names all start with "B"; the Bellman and Baker are on the upper deck, with the Barrister seated in the background; below are the Billiard-marker, the Banker and the Broker, with the maker of Bonnets and Hoods visible behind.
Artist: George Pickering, Engraver: William Greatbatch; Restoration: Adam Cuerden
One of the two earliest illustrations of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, which was first published on January 28, 1813. This engraving comes from the first illustrated edition, published twenty years later, and depicts Elizabeth Bennet (the main protagonist, right) and her father, in fashions that were common in the 1830s, not the story's original time setting. The novel is told from Bennet's point of view and deals with issues of manners, upbringing, moral rightness, education and marriage in the aristocratic society of early 19th century England. The novel retains a fascination for modern readers, having sold some 20 million copies worldwide and continuing near the top of lists of 'most loved books'.
A scene from Sir Walter Scott's 1817 historical novelRob Roy, which tells the story of Frank Osbaldistone, the son of an English merchant who travels to Scotland to collect a debt stolen from his father. On the way he encounters the larger-than-life title character of Robert Roy MacGregor. Though Rob Roy is not the lead character (in fact the narrative does not move to Scotland until halfway through the book) his personality and actions are key to the story's development. The novel is a brutally realistic depiction of the social conditions in Highland and Lowland Scotland in the early 18th century.
This woodblock print, titled Kinhyōshi yōrin, hero of the Suikoden, is one of a series created by the Japanese artistUtagawa Kuniyoshi between 1827 and 1830 illustrating the 108 Suikoden ("Water Margin"). The publication of the series catapulted Kuniyoshi to fame. The story of the Suikoden is an adaptation of the Chinese Shuǐhǔ Zhuàn; during the 1800s, the publication of this woodblock series and other translations of the novel created a Suikoden craze in Japan. Following the great commercial success of the Kuniyoshi series, other ukiyo-e artists were commissioned to produce prints of the Suikoden heroes, which began to be shown as Japanese heroes rather than the original Chinese personages. The hero portrayed in this print is Yang Lin.
A scene from a late-16th century publication of Nezami Ganjavi's adaptation of the classical Persian story Layla and Majnun, which is based on the real story of Qays ibn al-Mulawwah, a young man from the northern Arabian Peninsula and his love Layla. There are two versions of the story, but in both, Majnun goes mad when her father prevents him from marrying her. In the depicted scene, the eponymous star-crossed lovers meet for the last time before their deaths. Both have fainted and Majnun's elderly messenger attempts to revive Layla while wild animals protect the pair from unwelcome intruders.
A watercolor illustration by John Bauer (1882–1918) titled "Still, Tuvstarr sits and gazes down into the water", which accompanied Helge Kjellin's fairy tale "The Tale of the Moose Hop and the Little Princess Cotton Grass" in the 1913 edition of Among Gnomes and Trolls. In this scene, Tuvstarr looks for her lost heart in a tarn, symbolizing innocence lost.
An illustration of Humpty Dumpty by American artist William Wallace Denslow, depicting the title character from the nursery rhyme of the same name. He is typically portrayed as an egg, although the rhyme never explicitly states that he is, possibly because it may have been originally posed as a riddle. The earliest known version is in a manuscript addition to a copy of Mother Goose's Melody published in 1803.
The Song of Los is an epic poem by William Blake first published in 1795 and considered part of his prophetic books. The poem consists of two sections, "Africa" and "Asia": in the first section Blake catalogues the decline of morality in Europe, which he blames on both the African slave trade and enlightenment philosophers, whereas in the second section he describes a worldwide revolution, urged by the eponymous Los.
The illustration here is from the book's frontispiece and shows Urizen presiding over the decline of morality.