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Portal:Literature

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Introduction

Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.

Its Latin root literatura/litteratura (derived itself from littera: letter or handwriting) was used to refer to all written accounts. The concept has changed meaning over time to include texts that are spoken or sung (oral literature), and non-written verbal art forms. Developments in print technology have allowed an ever-growing distribution and proliferation of written works, culminating in electronic literature.

Selected work

Gustave Doré's illustration of the final lines of the poem.
"The Raven" is a narrative poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe. Its publication made Poe widely popular in his lifetime. Although it did not bring him much financial success it was soon reprinted, parodied, and it nevertheless remains one of the most famous poems ever written.

First published in January 1845, the poem is often noted for its musicality, stylized language, and supernatural atmosphere. It tells of a talking raven's mysterious visit to a distraught lover, tracing the man's slow fall into madness. The lover, often identified as being a student, is lamenting the loss of his love, Lenore. Sitting on a bust of Pallas, the raven seems to further instigate his distress with its constant repetition of the word "Nevermore". The poem makes use of a number of folk and classical references.

Poe claimed to have written the poem very logically and methodically, intending to create a poem that would appeal to both critical and popular tastes, as he explained in his 1846 follow-up essay "The Philosophy of Composition". The poem was inspired in part by a talking raven in the novel Barnaby Rudge: A Tale of the Riots of 'Eighty by Charles Dickens. Poe borrows the complex rhythm and meter of Elizabeth Barrett's poem "Lady Geraldine's Courtship", and makes use of internal rhyme as well as alliteration throughout.

Selected figure

Maya Angelou reciting poetry at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, in January 1993
Maya Angelou (/ˈænəl/ (About this soundlisten); born Marguerite Annie Johnson; April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014) was an American poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. The first, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her life up to the age of 17 and brought her international recognition and acclaim.

She became a poet and writer after a series of occupations as a young adult, including fry cook, sex worker, nightclub dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa. She was an actress, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. In 1982, she was named the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was active in the Civil Rights Movement and worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Beginning in the 1990s, she made around 80 appearances a year on the lecture circuit, something she continued into her eighties. In 1993, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" (1993) at the first inauguration of Bill Clinton, making her the first poet to make an inaugural recitation since Robert Frost at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961.

Selected excerpt

Audio-input-microphone.svg
 
An 1890 recording of Walt Whitman reading the opening four lines of his poem "America", from his collection Leaves of Grass

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Selected illustration

John Masey Wright - John Rogers - Robert Burns - Auld Lang Syne.jpg
Credit: John Masey Wright and John Rogers

"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight. This illustration accompanied an 1841 printing of the poem.

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Today in literature

16 January

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Concepts: Books · Library and information science · Novels · Poetry · Theatre · Writing
Genres: Children and Young Adult · Speculative fiction
Religions: Bible

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Authors: Honoré de Balzac · Roald Dahl · William Shakespeare
Series: Artemis Fowl · Chronicles of Narnia · Discworld · Harry Potter · His Dark Materials · Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy · Inheritance Cycle · James Bond · King Arthur · Middle-earth · Percy Jackson · Redwall · A Series of Unfortunate Events · Shannara · Sherlock Holmes · A Song of Ice and Fire · Star Wars · Sword of Truth · Twilight · Warriors · Water Margin · Wizard of Oz
Regions: Australian literature · Indian literature · Persian literature

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