What is literature? Definition. Main types and genres

This article will discuss what literature is, what are its main features, types and genres.

Definition of term

Everyone knows what literature is. In a broad sense, this is the totality of all the texts ever written by man. But most often the literature refers to the kind of art whose main task is the writing of works of art. However, this is too narrow an understanding of the term. Literature is publicistic, scientific, philosophical, religious. Educated contemporaries of Homer, for example, with equal pleasure read out the "Aeneid" of Virgil and treatise "On the nature of things" by Lucretius. And critics in the 1820s recognized the best examples of Russian prose "The Experience of Tax Theory" by N. Turgenev and "The History of the Russian State" by N. Karamzin. Both of these works in the modern sense of the art texts do not apply, but this does not prevent them from remaining masterpieces.

The concept of "Literature" has several properties that have remained unchanged for many years.

what is literature


Only authors' texts are considered to be literature. They can be both anonymous (created by an unknown author), and collective (written by a certain group of persons). This moment is important because the presence of the author provides the text with completeness. A person puts a point and thereby defines the boundaries of the created work, which from now on will live by itself. Otherwise it is, for example, with folklore texts. Any person can add something to it from themselves, make changes, and compose details. And no one in the world can put a signature under this work. What is literature? This text belongs to a certain author.

Written text

Only literary texts pertain to literature. Oral creativity has no relation to this art form. Folklore has always been passed by word of mouth, it can be fixed on paper, but it will be just an author's version of the non-literary text. In the modern world, there are exceptions to this rule, the so-called transitional cases. They exist in the national cultures of those peoples who, with the advent of writing, still retain narrators, whose creativity, created in an oral form, is immediately subjected to written fixation. Such texts are considered literary. Thus, we come to a broader understanding of what literature is. This is a written text created by a certain author.

Russian language and literature

Using Words

Literary texts are those that are created withusing the words of the human language. They do not include texts syncretic and synthetic, in which the verbal component can not be detached from the visual, musical or some other. Opera or song is not part of literature. However, in our time it often happens that music and words in a work are created by the same author. As far as it is legitimate to consider literature, for example, Vysotsky's poetry to his own songs - it is difficult to say. On the other hand, the fairy tale "The Little Prince" of Saint Exupery is also not easy to be called exclusively a literary work because an important role in it is played by author's illustrations to the text.

book literature

Social importance

In order to finally come to understandWhat is literature, we must consider one more criterion. It refers not to the structure of the text, but to its function. Literary works are considered to be records of social significance, that is, school essays, personal diaries, official correspondence do not have any relation to literature. This rule has exceptions. If letters or diaries are written by a significant author (writer, scientist, politician, etc.) and shed light on his creative activity, then in due course they receive the status of a literary work. For example, Sergei Yesenin's diary has long been made public and is published along with other works of the poet.


Basic views

Literature is artistic, documentary,memoir, scientific or popular science, as well as educational, technical and reference. Fiction, unlike its other species, has a clearly expressed aesthetic orientation. Through artistic fiction, the author seeks to convey his conclusions to the reader, and sometimes simply to entertain him.

Even in antiquity, the ancient Greek philosopherAristotle in his Poetics divided all the works into three kinds: drama, lyric poetry and epic. In later European literature passed many genres: a novel, an elegy, a satire, an ode, a poem, a tragedy, a comedy. The drama appeared only in the XVIII century. The genre development of literature never ceases. In the modern world, we read detectives, science fiction, thrillers, action films, "horrors" and other interesting books. Literature these days is distributed not only on paper, but also through computer files on electronic media.

Russian literature

Russian literature

Literature was of great importance forsocial and political life of Russia. In a state where an enlightened society could not freely express its ideas and thoughts, this kind of art became a kind of outlet. For example, in the nineteenth century, the Russian language and literature had a compulsory publicistic character. The most widely read authors were documentaries and journalists. Critic VG Belinsky, who did not compose during his life a single novel, story or play, became a famous and highly readable writer.

Once the absolute power of the leader or monarch inRussia was somehow limited, in the country it was announced a "great ending of literature" (VV Rozanov). So it was in 1910, when in Russia the parliamentary monarchy first appeared, something similar country experienced in the 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR.

Russian classical literature is one of the most interesting and readable in the world. L. Tolstoy, N. Gogol, A. Pushkin, F. Dostoevsky - recognized masters of the artistic word.

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