Literature broadly is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prosefiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to include oral literature, 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.
Literature, as an art form, can also include works in various non-fiction genres, such as biography, diaries, memoir, letters, and the essay. Within its broad definition, literature includes non-fictional books, articles or other printed information on a particular subject. (Full article...)
Image 54Statuta Mutine Reformata, 1420–1485; parchment codex bound in wood and leather with brass plaques worked the corners and in the center, with clasps. (from Medieval literature)
Image 55In 1901, French poet and essayistSully 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)
Written over a period of several years and influenced by European literature, Siti Akbari differs from earlier syairs in its use of suspense and emphasis on prose rather than form. It also incorporates European realist views to expand upon the genre, although it maintains several of the hallmarks of traditional syairs. Critical views have emphasised various aspects of its story, finding in the work an increased empathy for women's thoughts and feelings, a call for a unifying language in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), and a polemic regarding the relation between tradition and modernity.
Siti Akbari was a commercial and critical success, seeing two reprints and a film adaptation in 1940. When Sjair Abdoel Moeloek's influence became clear in the 1920s, Lie was criticised as unoriginal. However, Siti Akbari remains one of the better known syairs written by an ethnic Chinese author. Lie was later styled as the "father of Chinese Malay literature".
Maya Angelou (/ˈændʒəloʊ/(listen)AN-jə-loh; born Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American memoirist, popular poet, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
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 of 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.
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...)
Mary Wollstonecraft (/ˈwʊlstənkræft/, also UK: /-krɑːft/; 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was a British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships at the time, received more attention than her writing. Today Wollstonecraft is regarded as one of the founding feminist philosophers, and feminists often cite both her life and her works as important influences.
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...)
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...)
Heliade Rădulescu is considered one of the foremost champions of Romanian culture from the first half of the 19th century, having first risen to prominence through his association with Gheorghe Lazăr and his support of Lazăr's drive for discontinuing education in Greek. Over the following decades, he had a major role in shaping the modern Romanian language, but caused controversy when he advocated the massive introduction of Italianneologisms into the Romanian lexis. A Romantic nationalist landowner siding with moderate liberals, Heliade was among the leaders of the 1848 Wallachian revolution, after which he was forced to spend several years in exile. Adopting an original form of conservatism, which emphasized the role of the aristocratic boyars in Romanian history, he was rewarded for supporting the Ottoman Empire and clashed with the radical wing of the 1848 revolutionaries. (Full article...)
William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "the Bard"). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. He remains arguably the most influential writer in the English language, and his works continue to be studied and reinterpreted.
Sir Hugh Seymour Walpole, CBE (13 March 1884 – 1 June 1941) was an English novelist. He was the son of an Anglican clergyman, intended for a career in the church but drawn instead to writing. Among those who encouraged him were the authors Henry James and Arnold Bennett. His skill at scene-setting and vivid plots, as well as his high profile as a lecturer, brought him a large readership in the United Kingdom and North America. He was a best-selling author in the 1920s and 1930s but has been largely neglected since his death.
After his first novel, The Wooden Horse, in 1909, Walpole wrote prolifically, producing at least one book every year. He was a spontaneous story-teller, writing quickly to get all his ideas on paper, seldom revising. His first novel to achieve major success was his third, Mr Perrin and Mr Traill, a tragicomic story of a fatal clash between two schoolmasters. During the First World War he served in the Red Cross on the Russian-Austrian front, and worked in British propaganda in Petrograd and London. In the 1920s and 1930s Walpole was much in demand not only as a novelist but also as a lecturer on literature, making four exceptionally well-paid tours of North America. (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. Late in the 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially some problems she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was the book Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. It also inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter. She wrote 24 books and her most popular book was "Silent Spring." Carson died at age 56 after a long battle against breast cancer. (Full article...)
It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my brain, but, once conceived, it haunted me day and night. Object there was none. Passion there was none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult. For his gold I had no desire. I think it was his eye! Yes, it was this! One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture—a pale blue eye with a film over it. Whenever it fell upon me my blood ran cold, and so by degrees, very gradually, I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever.
Sir John Tenniel's illustration of the Caterpillar for Lewis Carroll's classic children's book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The illustration is noted for its ambiguous central figure, which can be viewed as having either a human male's face with pointed nose and protruding lower lip or as the head end of an actual caterpillar, with the right three "true" legs visible. The small symbol in the lower left is composed of Tenniel's initials, which was how he signed most of his work for the book. The partially obscured word in the lower left-center is the last name of Edward Dalziel, the engraver of the piece.
In this scene from Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Uncle Toby's colonel invents a device for firing multiple miniature cannons at once, based on a hookah. Unfortunately, he and Toby find the puffing on the hookah pipe so enjoyable that they keep setting the cannons off. The novel was published in nine volumes over ten years, starting in 1759. Although it was not always held in high esteem by other writers, its bawdy humour was popular with London society, and it has come to be seen as one of the greatest comic novels in English, as well as a forerunner for many modern narrative devices and styles.
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.
"The Sleeping Beauty" is a poem written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and published in 1830; it was later expanded and published in 1842 as "The Day-Dream". Based on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, the poem (as with many of Tennyson's adaptations of existing literary works) focuses on a single aspect of the story, the appearance of the eponymous character as she sleeps.
This illustration by W. E. F. Britten was published in 1901 to accompany a reprinting of "The Sleeping Beauty". It accompanies the poem's final lines: "She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever dwells / A perfect form in perfect rest."
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.
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 Princess and the Trolls, by John Bauer (1882–1918), was painted as an illustration for "The Changeling", a short story by Helena Nyblom. A watercolour held by the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, it was first published in the 1913 edition of the anthology Among Gnomes and Trolls. It shows the princess Bianca Maria between two trolls in a forest. Bauer's illustrations of fairy tales and children's stories made him a household name in his native Sweden, and shaped perceptions of many fairy tale characters.
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.
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.
A scene from "The Canterville Ghost", Oscar Wilde's first published story, which is about an American family that moves into a haunted house in England. However, instead of being frightened of the eponymous ghost, they turn the tables and prank him, such as in this scene, where the twin boys have set up a butter-slide, causing the ghost to slip down the staircase. The story satirises both the unrefined tastes of Americans and the determination of the British to guard their traditions.