Forms of Literature

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Forms of literature Poetry A poem is a composition usually written in verse. Poems rely heavily on imagery, precise words choice, and metaphor; they may take the form of measures consisting of patterns of stresses (metric feet) or of patterns of different-length syllables (as in classical prosody); and they may or may not utilise rhyme. One cannot readily characterise poetry precisely. Typically though, poetry as a form of literature makes some significant use of the formal properties of the wor
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  Forms of literature Poetry A poem is a composition usually written in verse . Poems rely heavily on imagery , precisewords choice, and metaphor ; they may take the form of measures consisting of patterns of stresses ( metric feet ) or of patterns of different-length syllable s (as in classical prosody ); andthey may or may not utilise rhyme . One cannot readily characterise poetry precisely. Typicallythough, poetry as a form of literature makes some significant use of the  formal  properties of thewords it uses — the properties attached to the written or  spoken form of the words, rather thanto their meaning. Metre depends on syllable s and on rhythm s of speech; rhyme and alliteration depend on words that have similar pronunciation. Some recent poets, such as E. E. Cummings ,made extensive use of words' visual form. Poetry perhaps pre-dates other forms of literature: early known examples includethe Sumerian   Epic of Gilgamesh (dated from around 3000 B.C. ), parts of the Bible , and the surviving works of  Homer (the Iliad and the Odyssey ). In culturesbased primarily on oral traditions the formal characteristics of poetry often have a mnemonic function, and important texts: legal, genealogical or moral, forexample, may appear first in verse form.Much poetry uses specific forms: the haiku , the limerick  , or the sonnet , forexample. A haiku must have seventeen syllables, distributed over three lines ingroups of five, seven, and five, and should have an image of a season andsomething to do with nature . A limerick  has five lines, with a rhyme scheme of AABBA, and line lengths of 3,3,2,2,3 stressed syllables. It traditionally has a lessreverent attitude towards nature .Language and tradition dictate some poetic norms: Greek poetry rarely rhymes,Italian or French poetry often does, English and German can go either way(although modern non-rhyming poetry often, perhaps unfairly, has a more serious aura). Perhaps the most paradigmatic style of English poetry, blank verse, asexemplified in works by Shakespeare and by Milton , consists of unrhymed iambic pentameter s. Some languages prefer longer lines; some shorter ones.Some of these conventions result from the ease of fitting a specific language'svocabulary and grammar into certain structures, rather than into others; forexample, some languages contain more rhyming words than others, or typicallyhave longer words. Other structural conventions come about as the result of historical accidents, where many speakers of a language associate good poetry witha verse form preferred by a particular skilled or popular poet.Works for theatre (see below) traditionally took verse form. This has now becomerare outside opera and musicals , although many would argue that the language of drama remains intrinsically poetic.  In recent years,digital poetryhas arisen that takes advantage of the artistic,publishing, and synthetic qualities of digital media. Drama A play or  drama offers another classical literary form that has continued to evolve over theyears. It generally comprises chiefly dialogue between characters , and usually aims at drama tic/ theatrical performance (see theatre ) rather than at reading. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries , opera developed as a combination of poetry, drama , and music . Nearlyall drama took verse form until comparatively recently. Greek drama exemplifies the earliest form of drama of which we have substantialknowledge. Tragedy , as a dramatic genre , developed as a performance associatedwith religious and civic festival s, typically enacting or developing upon well-known historical or mythological   theme s. Tragedies generally presented veryserious theme s and treated important conflicts in human nature, but notnecessarily tragic ones as currently understood — meaning sad and without a happy ending . Greek comedy , as a dramatic genre , developed later thantragedy; Greek festival s eventually came to include three tragediescounterbalanced by a comedy or satyr play .Modern theatre does not in general adhere to any of these restrictions of form ortheme. Plays cover anything written for performance by actor s ( screenplay s, forexample); and even some things not intended for performance: many contemporarywriters have taken advantage of the dialogue-centred character of plays as a way of presenting literary work intended simply for reading rather than performance. ssays An essay consists of a discussion of a topic from an author's personal point of view, exemplified by works by Francis Bacon or by Charles Lamb . 'Essay' in English derives from the French 'essai', meaning 'attempt'. Thus one canfind open-ended, provocative and/or inconclusive essays. The term essays firstapplied to the self-reflective musings of Michel de Montaigne, and even today hehas a reputation as the father of this literary form. Genres related to the essay may include: Prose fiction  Prose consists of writing that does not adhere to any particular formal structures (other thansimple grammar ); non-poetic writing, writing, perhaps. The term sometimes appears pejoratively, but prosaic writing simply says something without necessarily trying to say it in a beautiful way, or using beautiful words. Prose writing can of course take beautiful form; butless by virtue of the formal features of words (rhymes, alliteration, meter). But one need notmark the distinction precisely, and perhaps cannot do so. Note the classifications: ã thememoir , telling the story of an author's life from the author's personal point of view ã theepistle: usually a formal, didactic, or elegantletter . ã   prose poetry , which attempts to convey the aesthetic richness typical of poetryusing only prose ã  free verse , or poetry not adhering to any of the strictures of one or another formal poetic style ã  Narrative fiction (narrative prose) generally favours prose for the writing of  novels , shortstories, and the like. Singular examples of these exist throughout history, but they did notdevelop into systematic and discrete literary forms until relatively recent centuries.Length often serves to categorize works of prose fiction . Although limits remainsomewhat arbitrary, modern publishing conventions dictate the following: ã A  Flash fictionis generally defined as a piece of prose under a thousand words. ã A  short storycomprises prose writing of less than 10,000 to 20,000 words, buttypically more than 500 words, which may or may not have a narrative arc. ã A story containing between 20,000 and 50,000 words falls into the  novella category. ã A work of fiction containing more than 50,000 words falls squarely into the realm of    thenovel. ã A novel consists simply of a long story written in prose; yet it developed comparativelyrecently. Icelandic prose sagas dating from about the 11th century bridge the gap between traditional national verse epic s and the modern psychological novel . In mainlandEurope, the Spaniard   Cervantes wrote perhaps the first influential novel : Don Quixote , published in 1600 . Earlier collections of  tale s, such as Boccaccio 's Decameron and Chaucer 's The Canterbury Tales , have comparable forms and would probably classifyas novel s if written today. Earlier works written in Asia resemble even more strongly the novel as we now think of it — for example, works such as the Chinese   Romance of theThree Kingdoms and the Japanese   Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki . Compare too The Book of One Thousand and One Nights . Early novels in Europe did not, at the time, count as significant literature, perhapsbecause mere prose writing seemed easy and unimportant. It has become clear,however, that prose writing can provide aesthetic pleasure without adhering topoetic forms. Additionally, the freedom authors gain in not having to concernthemselves with verse structure translates often into a more complexplotor intoone richer in precise detail than one typically finds even in narrative poetry. Thisfreedom also allows an author to experiment with many different literary styles —including poetry — in the scope of a single novel. Other prose literature  Philosophy , history ,  journalism , and legal and scientific writings traditionally ranked asliterature. They offer some of the oldest prose writings in existence; novels and prose storiesearned the names fiction to distinguish them from factual writing or  nonfiction , which writershistorically have crafted in prose. he literary nature of science writing has become less pronounced over the lasttwo centuries, as advances and specialization have made new scientific researchinaccessible to most audiences; science now appears mostly in  journals . Scientificworks of  Euclid , Aristotle , Copernicus , and Newton still possess great value; butsince the science in them has largely become outdated, they no longer serve forscientific instruction, yet they remain too technical to sit well in most programmesof literary study. Outside of history of science programmes students rarely readsuch works. Many books popularizing science might still deserve the title literature ; history will tell.Philosophy, too, has become an increasingly academic discipline. More of itspractitioners lament this situation than occurs with the sciences; nonetheless mostnew philosophical work appears in academic journals . Major philosophers throughhistory -- Plato , Aristotle , Augustine , Descartes , Nietzsche -- have become ascanonical as any writers. Some recent philosophy works are argued to merit the title literature , such as some of the works by Simon Blackburn ; but much of it doesnot, and some areas, such as logic , have become extremely technical to a degreesimilar as that of  mathematics .A great deal of historical writing can still rank as literature, particularly the genreknown as creative nonfiction . So can a great deal of journalism, such as literary journalism . However these areas have become extremely large, and often have aprimarily utilitarian purpose: to record data or convey immediate information. As aresult the writing in these fields often lacks a literary quality, although it often andin its better moments has that quality. Major literary historians include Herodotus , Thucydides and Procopius , all of whom count as canonical literaryfigures. Law offers a less clear case. Some writings of  Plato and Aristotle , or even theearly parts of the Bible , might count as legal literature. The law tables of  Hammurabi of  Babylon might count. Roman civil law as codified in the Corpus Juris Civilis during the reign of   Justinian I of the Byzantine Empire has areputation as significant literature. The founding documents of many countries,including the United States Constitution , can count as literature; however legalwriting now rarely exhibits literary merit.Most of these fields, then, through specialization or proliferation, no longergenerally constitute literature in the sense under discussion. They may sometimescount as literary literature ; more often they produce what one might call technical literature or professional literature .
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