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Related subjects Language and literature; Portals

The Literary Portal

Literature is literally "an acquaintance with letters", as in the first sense given in the Oxford English Dictionary (from the Latin littera meaning "an individual written character"). The term has generally come to identify a collection of texts or works of art, which in Western culture are mainly prose, both fiction and non-fiction, drama and poetry. In much, if not all of the world, texts can be oral as well, and include such genres as epic, legend, myth, ballad, other forms of oral poetry, and the folktale. The word "literature" as a common noun can refer to any form of writing, such as essays; "Literature" as a proper noun refers to a whole body of literary work.

The history of literature begins with the history of writing, in the Bronze Age of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, although the oldest literary texts date to a full millennium after the invention of writing, to the late 3rd millennium BC. The earliest literary authors known by name are Ptahhotep and Enheduanna, dating to ca. the 24th and 23rd centuries BC, respectively. More about Literature...

Selected article

Nineteen Eighty-Four (also titled 1984), by George Orwell (the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair), is a 1949 English novel about life under a futuristic authoritarian regime in the year 1984. It tells the story of Winston Smith, a functionary at the Ministry of Truth, whose work consists of editing historical accounts to fit the government's policies. Smith is degraded and tortured after he is arrested by the Thought Police under the instruction of the totalitarian government of Oceania.

The book has major significance for its vision of an all-knowing government which uses pervasive and constant surveillance of the populace, insidious and blatant propaganda, and brutal control over its citizens. The book had a substantial impact both in literature and on the perception of public surveillance, inspiring such terms as ' Big Brother' and ' Orwellian'.

Selected picture

Cover of Undine, a novel by Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué.


Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
Albert Camus

Did you know ...

... that Walter Mosley's Futureland is a series of nine loosely connected short pieces of science fiction set in a post- cyberpunk dystopian universe populated by humans living in a shellshocked, unfairly stratified society overseen by super-rich technocrats?

... that "The Computer Nevermore" is a filk based on Edgar Allan Poe's narrative poem "The Raven", and that that poem has been parodied countless times?

... that Dorothy B. Hughes's 1946 roman noir Ride the Pink Horse is set in a small New Mexican town during a three-day fiesta, and that the title of the novel refers to a dilapidated merry-go-round?

... that the members of the Pérez family are Marielitos?

... that Austrian political journalist and cabaret writer Jura Soyfer, the co-author of the "Dachaulied", died of typhus at Buchenwald concentration camp, aged only 26?

... that roman de gare is the French term for " airport novel"?

... that John Guare's 1990 play Six Degrees of Separation is based on the " small world phenomenon"?

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