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Definitions of Literature Through the Ages


Definitions of Literature Through the Ages

Definitions of Literature Through the Ages

Definitions of Literature Through the Ages

Literature is a broad and multifaceted term that has evolved over the centuries, encompassing various forms of written, spoken, or sung artistic expression. The definitions of literature have evolved over time, reflecting changes in cultural, social, and intellectual contexts. Here are some key definitions that have come down to us through the centuries: Definitions of Literature Through the Ages

Classical Definition (Ancient Greece and Rome):

In ancient Greece, literature was often associated with written works that demonstrated skill in language and rhetoric. It included epic poetry, drama, and philosophical dialogues. The Roman poet Horace emphasized the importance of both delight (pleasure) and instruction (profit) in literature, suggesting that literature should entertain and educate.

Middle Ages:

During the Middle Ages, literature was closely tied to religious and moral instruction. Many works were written in Latin and focused on religious themes, often promoting moral virtues and values. Definitions of Literature Through the Ages


The Renaissance marked a revival of interest in classical literature and a shift towards the humanistic approach. Literature was seen as a means to explore human experiences, emotions, and individualism.

Neoclassical Period:

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Neoclassical theorists emphasized reason, order, and decorum in literature. They believed that literature should adhere to established rules and serve a didactic purpose, instructing and morally guiding the reader.


The Romantic period in the late 18th and early 19th centuries challenged Neoclassical ideals. Romantics celebrated emotion, imagination, and the expression of individual experience. Literature was seen as a means of exploring the sublime and the transcendent. Definitions of Literature Through the Ages

Victorian Era:

The Victorian era saw a diverse range of literary forms, including novels, poetry, and essays. Literature often reflected the social issues of the time, addressing industrialization, class struggles, and moral questions.


In the early 20th century, Modernist writers experimented with form, language, and narrative structure. Literature became a vehicle for exploring the fragmented nature of reality and the subjectivity of experience. Definitions of Literature Through the Ages


Postmodernism, emerging in the mid-20th century, questioned grand narratives and embraced irony, self-reflexivity, and intertextuality. Literature became a space for deconstructing traditional norms and exploring the multiplicity of perspectives.

Contemporary Views:

Today, literature encompasses a wide range of forms, including novels, short stories, poems, plays, essays, and digital media. It is often characterized by diversity, inclusivity, and a global perspective, reflecting the complexities of the modern world.

In summary, the definition of literature has evolved over time, influenced by cultural, philosophical, and artistic movements. It remains a dynamic and ever-changing field that continues to explore and express the human experience in various forms. 0 0 0.

Definitions of Literature Through the Ages

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