Portal:Literature

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The Literature Portal

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Literature is a term that does not have a universally accepted definition, but which has variably included all written work; writing that possesses literary merit; and language that foregrounds literariness, as opposed to ordinary language. Etymologically the term derives from Latin literatura/litteratura "writing formed with letters", although some definitions include spoken or sung texts. Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and whether it is poetry or prose; it can be further distinguished according to major forms such as the novel, short story or drama; and works are often categorised according to historical periods, or according to their adherence to certain aesthetic features or expectations (genre).

Literature may consist of texts based on factual information (journalistic or non-fiction), a category that may also include polemical works, biographies, and reflective essays, or it may consist of texts based on imagination (such as fiction, poetry, or drama). Literature written in poetry emphasizes the aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as sound, symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, ordinary meanings, while literature written in prose applies ordinary grammatical structure and the natural flow of speech. Literature can also be classified according to historical periods, genres, and political influences. While the concept of genre has broadened over the centuries, in general, a genre consists of artistic works that fall within a certain central theme; examples of genre include romance, mystery, crime, fantasy, erotica, and adventure, among others.

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Gabriel García Márquez in 2002
The General in His Labyrinth is a novel by the Colombian writer and Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez. It is a fictionalized account of the last days of Simón Bolívar, liberator and leader of Gran Colombia. First published in 1989, the book traces Bolívar's final journey from Bogotá to the Caribbean coastline of Colombia in his attempt to leave South America for exile in Europe. In this dictator novel about a continental hero, "despair, sickness, and death inevitably win out over love, health, and life". Breaking with the traditional heroic portrayal of Bolívar El Libertador, García Márquez depicts a pathetic protagonist, a prematurely aged man who is physically ill and mentally exhausted. The story explores the labyrinth of Bolívar's life through the narrative of his memories.

García Márquez's insertion of interpretive and fictionalized elements—some dealing with Bolívar's most intimate moments—caused outrage in parts of Latin America when the book was released. Many prominent Latin American figures believed that the novel damaged the reputation of one of the region's most important historic figures and portrayed a negative image to the outside world. Others saw The General in His Labyrinth as a tonic for Latin American culture and a challenge to the region to deal with its problems.

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A painting of Rădulescu by Mișu Popp
Ion Heliade Rădulescu (January 6, 1802 – April 27, 1872) was a Wallachian-born Romanian academic, Romantic and Classicist poet, essayist, memoirist, short story writer, newspaper editor and politician. A prolific translator of foreign literature into Romanian, he was also the author of books on linguistics and history. For much of his life, Heliade Rădulescu was a teacher at Saint Sava College in Bucharest, which he helped reopen. He was a founding member and first president of the Romanian Academy.

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 Italian neologisms 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.

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Cowardly lion2.jpg
Credit: W. W. Denslow

The Cowardly Lion is a character in L. Frank Baum's children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This illustration, from the book's first edition, depicts the book's protagonist, Dorothy Gale — accompanied by the Tin Woodman, Toto, and the Scarecrow — meeting the lion for the first time.

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Today in literature

28 September

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