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      With the development of language, the human imagination has found a way to create and communicate through the written word. A literary work can transport us into a fictional, fantastic new world, describe a fleeting feeling, or simply give us a picture of the past through novels, poems, tragedies, epic works, and other genres. Through literature, communication becomes an art, and it can bridge and bond people and cultures of different languages and backgrounds.
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      Featured content, January 21, 2021

      How did Albert Camus die?
      How did Albert Camus die?
      Companion / Literature
      Albert Camus.
      10 Captivating Contemporary Novels Set in the British Isles
      These works of fiction will leave you dreaming of the wonderful and diverse lands of the British Isles.
      List / Literature
      Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales.
      Where Does the Concept of a “Grim Reaper” Come From?
      Harvester of souls since when?
      Demystified / Literature
      grim reaper, death
      What Did Shakespeare Sound Like?
      “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.”
      #WTFact / Literature
      William Shakespeare, 1564-1616. c 1907
      Short story
      Short story, brief fictional prose narrative that is shorter than a novel and that usually deals with only a few characters....
      Encyclopedia / Literature
      Brazilian literature
      Brazilian literature, the body of written works produced in the Portuguese language in Brazil. Brazil was claimed for Portugal...
      Encyclopedia / Literature
      Andrada e Silva, portrait by an unknown artist
      Literature, a body of written works. The name has traditionally been applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose...
      Encyclopedia / Literature
      English literature
      English literature, the body of written works produced in the English language by inhabitants of the British Isles (including...
      Encyclopedia / Literature
      Nicolaus Copernicus: heliocentric system

      Literature Quizzes

      William Shakespeare etching. English poet, dramatist, and actor.
      William Shakespeare: Fact or Fiction?
      Is William Shakespeare nicknamed "the Bard of Avon?" Did Shakespeare always spell his name one way? Spell check your smarts...
      Helen Keller with hand on braille book in her lap as she smells a rose in a vase. Oct. 28, 1904. Helen Adams Keller American author and educator who was blind and deaf.
      Write vs. Wrong: Fact or Fiction?
      Who did Helen Keller dedicate her autobiography to? What was Lewis Carroll’s profession? Sort right from wrong in this quiz...
      "Shakuntala looking back to glimpse Dushyanta" Painting by Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906).  (Indian painter, India, art, oil painting, Mahabharata character, Indian folklore)
      Indian Literature: Fact or Fiction?
      You may be familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, but how much do you know of Indian literature? Sort...
      English novelist Charles Dickens; undated engraving.
      Famous Writers: Fact or Fiction?
      From the Italian Renaissance and Victorian era to India and Canterbury, delve into the lives of Dante, Isaac Asimov, and...
      Frontispiece and title page of Phillis Wheatley's book of poetry, "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral"  1773. Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784). African American slave. Black woman poet.
      Poetry Puzzle: Fact or Fiction?
      Was the first published African American poet a woman? Were Emily Dickinson’s poems widely published during her lifetime?...
      Camelot, engraving by Gustave Dore to illustrate the Arthurian poems in Idylls of the King, by Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1868.
      A Study of Poems: Fact or Fiction?
      In the poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas, how many reindeer does Santa have? Is Xanadu a real place? What king does...
      Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain, three-quarter length portrait, seated, facing slightly right, with cigar in hand.
      Lives of Famous Writers: Fact or Fiction?
      You may be familiar with J.K. Rowling and Dr. Seuss, but how much do you know of A.A. Milne and Dr. Dolittle? Test your knowledge...
      Kabuki Theater. Unknown Artist, 'Scene at Kabuki Theater', 19th century. From a private collection. The strongest ties of Kabuki are to the Noh and to joruri, the puppet theatre that developed during the 17th century.
      Playing Around: Fact or Fiction?
      Is a soliloquy a section of a play in which two characters engage in an extended conversation? From King Lear to...
      Scene from "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens, (London c1870). Joe Gargery, the gentle giant, is provoked into violence in his smithy. In the background his brother-in-law Philip Pirrip, known as Pip, the hero of the novel, works the...
      Getting Into Character: Fact or Fiction?
      From Tarzan and Dracula to Sherlock Holmes and Mowgli, test your smarts and read between this line-up of literary characters.
      Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1342/43-1400), English poet; portrait from an early 15th century manuscript of the poem, De regimine principum.
      The ABCs of Poetry: Fact or Fiction?
      Are prose and poetry the same? Do narrative poems tend to be very short? Test the long and short of your poetic knowledge...
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      Sign up for daily fun facts about this day in history, updates, and special offers delivered right to your inbox.

      Literature Subcategories

      subcategory placeholder Folk Literature & Fable
      Step into the world of folklore, fables, legends, tall tales, and epics, in which heroes are known to undertake arduous journeys and dragons, fairies, and giants abound. Stories such as these circulated long before systems of writing were developed; ballads, folktales, poems, and the like were transmitted exclusively by word of mouth before written languages took over, and they continue to captivate listeners and readers to this day.
      Fantastic Four Fictional Characters
      Here you'll find some of your favorite fictional characters from literature, film, television, and the like, whether it's the analytical mastermind Sherlock Holmes and his endearing associate Dr. Watson or the menacing and helmeted Darth Vader, the ill-tempered Donald Duck or the teenage sleuth Nancy Drew.
      subcategory placeholder Journalism
      Extra, extra! Although the content and style of journalism and the medium through which it is delivered have varied significantly over the years, journalism has always given us a way to keep up with current events, so that we always have our fingers on the pulse.
      Edward O. Wilson Libraries & Reference Works
      Looking to impress your friends with your expansive knowledge of historical events, philosophical concepts, obscure words, and more? We may be biased, but it seems fair enough to say that reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and textbooks have provided such a service for years (in some cases, hundreds or even thousands of years). You can look for them at your local public library, which likely stores books, manuscripts, journals, CDs, movies, and other sources of information and entertainment.
      wine bottle Literatures of the World
      Literature knows no geographical bounds; authors can be found in nearly all corners of the globe (except, perhaps, on the open sea). Find out more about regional literary styles and forms.
      subcategory placeholder Literary Criticism
      Everyone's a critic. But not all literary criticism involves judging the quality of a text; it can also focus on interpreting the meaning of a work or evaluating an author's place in literary history.
      To the Lighthouse Literary Terms
      This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
      subcategory placeholder Nonfiction
      The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Nonfiction works are all about facts and real events. Although there is some debate about which kinds of literature qualify as nonfiction, the genre typically includes books in the categories of biography, memoir, science, history, self-help, cooking, health and fitness, business, and more.
      The War of the Worlds Novels & Short Stories
      Whether it's "Don Quixote," "Pride and Prejudice," "The Great Gatsby," or "The Fall of the House of Usher," novels and short stories have been enchanting and transporting readers for a great many years. There's a little something for everyone: within these two genres of literature, a wealth of types and styles can be found, including historical, epistolary, romantic, Gothic, and realist works, along with many more.
      Justus of Ghent: Saint Augustine Oratory
      "I have a dream..." "Four score and seven years ago..." It's not a fluke that these phrases came to be so widely known and remembered. Truly great and persuasive speeches elicit strong emotional reactions in their audiences and may have broad historical repercussions. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, quoted above, are two iconic examples of successful oratory, as are Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury and Winston Churchill's first speech as prime minister to the House of Commons.
      Hamlet Plays
      All the world's a stage, as Shakespeare put it in "As You Like It"; and the stage is where you'll find performances of works by such famed playwrights as Anton Chekhov, Eugene O'Neill, and the Bard himself, among many others.
      subcategory placeholder Poetry
      Poetry is a vast subject that encompasses much more than just your average "Roses are red, violets are blue" poem. Delve into the category of literature that Percy Bysshe Shelley called "a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted," and which includes sonnets, haikus, nursery rhymes, epics, and more.
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