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Literature

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, July 10, 2021

How did Albert Camus die?
How did Albert Camus die?
Companion / Literature
Albert Camus.
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
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.
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
Panchatantra
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
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

Lobby card for the motion picture film "Things to Come" (1936); directed by William Cameron Menzies. (science fiction, futurism)
Science Fiction Writers Quiz
Science fiction has a long history and wide influence. Here’s a quick tour through some of this genre’s greatest writers....
"The Feast of Sada", folio 22v from the Shah-nameh Book of Kings) of Shah Tahmasp, by Ferdowsi; painting attributed to Sultan Muhammad, c. 1525; made in Tabriz, Iran. (Shahnama, poems, poetry)
Poets and Poetry (Part One) Quiz
Do you know who wrote “The Wild Swans at Coole”? What’s the title of the first known play in blank verse? Take a tour of...
Record of a haiku exchange on kaishi writing paper by Matsuo Basho and one of his pupils in the teacher's own handwriting, 2nd half of the 17th century, from a hanging scroll (ink on paper). (calligraphy)
Irony, Oxymoron, Alliteration, and More: A Quiz
Test what you know about literary terms with this quiz.
Beginning of the old English poem, Beowulf, believed to have been composed between 700 and 750. (Old English literature)
Poets and Poetry (Part Two) Quiz
Do you know which ancient Roman poet wrote Metamorphoses? Who wrote poetry to a woman named Laura? Test the outer...
Japanese poet Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (Kakinomoto Hitomaro), woodblock print by Yashima Gakutei, c. 1820; in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
Japanese Literature: A Pop Quiz
Here’s an extremely short quiz about the long history of Japanese literature. (Hint: It’s mostly about renga.) How...
French  Honore de Balzac; undated portrait. (Honore Balzac)
Literary Terms (Part Three) Quiz
Do you know what figure of speech relies on the words like or as to compare two things? If you do, take...
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) in 1876. Russian novelist and short-story writer. Also spelled Dostoevsky
Another Russian Literature Quiz
Who wrote Dead Souls? Which character is the protagonist in Crime and Punishment? Test what you know about...
Handscroll is one of a set that illustrates the 305 poems in the Shijing (The Book of Odes), a work traditionally believed to have been compiled by Confucius, by Ma Hezhi and assistants, Southern Song dynasty, mid-12th century.
Chinese Literature Quiz
How much do you know about the history of Chinese literature? Find out with this quiz.
Sappho (early 6th century B.C.), engraving 1866
Ancient Greek Literature Quiz
How well do you know Old Comedy? Who wrote Oedipus the King? Figure out what you know about ancient Greek literature...
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) only confirmed photograph of Emily Dickinson. Daguerreotype. ca. 1847; in the Amherst College Archives. American poet
Poets of America Quiz
Poetry derived from European traditions dates to the early 17th century in the Americas. How much of that history do you...
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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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
wine bottle Literatures of the World
Literature knows no geographical bounds; s 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.
Articles
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 's place in literary history.
Articles
To the Lighthouse Literary Terms
This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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