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Literature has many meanings but to me when I hear the word literature I think of large tomes of words and stories that have become classics over time however this is only one definition of literature. Literature comes from that Latin word littera, that directly translated means letter, thus supporting the idea that literature is written. This view however leaves out the idea that there can be oral literature as well from which many of our stories and books come from.
The main form of literature, the book, has had a great impact upon the formation of our society today. Before the 1940’s TV had not come into being yet and there was not much else to do other than read books. Thus books formed my grandparents and to some extent my parents and, although I grew up in the generation of TV, books as literature have indirectly formed me as well.
There also can be forms of artistic literature such as poetry or play writing. These also play an important part in literature, I believe, such as Robert frost’s poems or the works of Shakespeare the playwright. These are great authors, whose literature is not in the form of a great story or a moving novel, but in irregular works that have stayed with us for a long time many years.
I believe that one very good definition of literature is that literature must have certain qualities such as plot, characters, tone, symbols, conflict, point of view, and many other elements working together in a dynamic relationship to produce a literary work. This pretty much defines the way that most people see literature today. This allows for oral traditional stories as well as for the irregular forms of writing such as plays and poems that can also have plot, characters, tone and the other elements mentioned so that they can be deemed a literary work.
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I think that literature is very important and can be a lot of fun too if you let it be. It is a good mind exercise so that after you have watched too much TV you can stretch your brain a little by reading a good novel or collection of poems. Literature is an important part of any society and will be around for a very long time no matter how much technology advances.