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.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
: Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knight
) is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance
. It is one of the better-known Arthurian stories, of an established type known as the "beheading game". Written in bob and wheel
stanzas, it emerges from Welsh
tradition and highlights the importance of honour and chivalry. It is an important poem in the romance genre
, which typically involves a hero who goes on a quest that tests his prowess, and it remains popular to this day in modern English renderings from J. R. R. Tolkien
, Simon Armitage
and others, as well as through film and stage adaptations.
It describes how Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table, accepts a challenge from a mysterious "Green Knight" who challenges any knight to strike him with his axe if he will take a return blow in a year and a day. Gawain accepts and beheads him with his blow, at which the Green Knight stands up, picks up his head and reminds Gawain of the appointed time. In his struggles to keep his bargain Gawain demonstrates chivalry and loyalty until his honour is called into question by a test involving Lady Bertilak, the lady of the Green Knight's castle.
, English: Lady Murasaki
) (c. 978 – c. 1014 or 1025) was a Japanese novelist
at the Imperial court
during the Heian period
. Murasaki Shikibu is a nickname; her real name is unknown, but she may have been Fujiwara Takako.
Murasaki wrote The Diary of Lady Murasaki, a volume of poetry, and The Tale of Genji. It is uncertain when she began to write The Tale of Genji, but it was probably while she in her mid to late twenties. In about 1005, Murasaki was invited to serve as a lady-in-waiting to Empress Shōshi at the Imperial court, probably because of her reputation as a writer. She continued to write during her service, adding scenes from court life to her work. Within a decade of its completion, Genji was distributed throughout the provinces; within a century it was recognized as a classic of Japanese literature and had become a subject of scholarly criticism. Early in the 20th century her work was translated; a six-volume English translation was completed in 1933. Scholars continue to recognize the importance of her work, which reflects Heian court society at its peak. Since the 13th century her works have been illustrated by Japanese artists and well-known ukiyo-e woodblock masters.
||It all seemed too good to be true. Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting—everything happy, and progressive, and occupied. And instead of having an uneasy conscience pricking him and whispering "whitewash!" he somehow could only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busy citizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.
|— Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows
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"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
- 1583 - Antonio Francesco Grazzini, Italian writer died
- 1609 - Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, English historian born
- 1654 - Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, French writer died
- 1658 - Charles-Irénée Castel de Saint-Pierre, French writer born
- 1780 - Kristijonas Donelaitis, Lithuanian poet died
- 1803 - Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim, German poet died
- 1846 - Wilson Barrett, English playwright born
- 1849 - Alexander Kielland, Norwegian author born
- 1883 - Nikos Kazantzakis, Greek writer born
- 1885 - Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is published.
- 1896 - Andre Breton, French writer born
- 1898 - Luis Muñoz Marín, Puerto Rican poet born
- 1909 - Wallace Stegner, American writer born
- 1929 - Len Deighton, British author born
- 1931 - Toni Morrison, American writer born
- 1936 - Jean Auel, American writer born
- 1942 - Albert Payson Terhune, American author died
- 1943 - Graeme Garden, Scottish writer born
- 1955 - Miles Tredinnick, English playwright born
- 1982 - Ngaio Marsh, New Zealand author died
- 1997 - Emily Hahn, American writer died
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