The Nature of Literature | BA English Semester 1 Notes

The Nature of Literature: Literature is an expression of human feelings, thoughts, and ideas whose medium is language, oral, or written. Literature is about human ideas, thoughts, and feelings and the authors’ experiences. Literature is the medium for humans to communicate what they feel, think, and experience to the readers. 

There are several ways to define “literature” from different viewpoints: literature as art and language; the word “literature” is considered aesthetic. It is fiction and expressive, and Literature is effective. Literature can be described as everything that is printed. It is a term that means all writings could be classified as literature. Another method of categorizing literature is restricting it to “great” books that can’t be considered literary in form or expression. ” Ellis (1989:30) defines literature as the verbal expression of human imagination and one primary means by which a culture transmits itself. Based on these definitions, the literature contains universal ideas, human imagination, and human interest written in any writings and uses language to express human ideas and feelings.

Imaginative and non-imaginative literature

In conjunction with literature as an art form, it is broken down into imaginative and non-imaginative literature. Imaginative and non-imaginative literature are distinguished based on the particular use of language in literature. The language of imaginative literature is highly ‘connotative,’ and non-imaginative literature is purely ‘denotative.’ The connotative meaning means words used in literary works have feelings and shades of meaning that words tend to evoke, while denotative meaning means that the words refer to meaning in a dictionary.

Literary and Spoken Language

The language of literary works differs from the standard written or spoken language. Specific words, structures, and features characterize literature. The language of literature is different from normal languages in three ways:

  1. Language is concentrated and meaningful.
  2. Its purpose is not simply to explain, argue, or make a point but to give a sense of pleasure in discovering a new experience.
  3. It demands intense concentration from the readers. It signifies that literature’s language is unique, quality, creative, and enjoyable.

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In this case, to differentiate between literary and non-literary texts (imaginative and non-imaginative), Kleden (2004:7-8) states that literature can be differentiated based on the kind of meanings in a text. A literary text is composed of both referential and textual meanings. Non-literary text is merely a reference to meaning. The textual meaning is the meaning that is produced by the relationship of the text itself. While referential meaning is meaning that is produced by the relationship between internal text and external text (the world beyond the text). 

From the use of language and the existence of meaning in literary works, it can be concluded that poetry, prose, and drama put in literary works, articles, journalism, news, bibliography, memoir, and so on can be categorized as non-literary works. 

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