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Literature

With the development of language, the human imagination has found a way to create and communicate through the written word. A literary work can transport us into a fictional, fantastic new world, describe a fleeting feeling, or simply give us a picture of the past through novels, poems, tragedies, epic works, and other genres. Through literature, communication becomes an art, and it can bridge and bond people and cultures of different languages and backgrounds.
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Featured content, March 12, 2021

Why Do Languages Die?
How does someone become the last known speaker of a language?
Demystified / Literature
Portion of the Aleppo Codex, a manuscript of the Hebrew Bible written in the Hebrew language in the 10th century CE; in the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
Diagnosing 9 of Charles Dickens’s Most Famous Characters
Dickens had a knack for expertly portraying human diseases.
#WTFact / Literature
Scene from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, 1843. The irascible, curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Present, the third of the four apparitions that visit him on Christmjas Eve. From "A Christmas Carol" by...
10 Frequently Confused Literary Terms
Do you confuse "denotation" with "connotation"? Oh, the irony! ...or is it coincidence?
List / Literature
The word "communication" has an accent or stress on the fourth syllable, the letters "ca."
Was there a feud between William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway?
Was there a feud between William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway?
Companion / Literature
Combo image of Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner to be used in high engagement content only
Japanese literature
Japanese literature, the body of written works produced by Japanese authors in Japanese or, in its earliest beginnings, at...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Nise-e of Minamoto Kintada, one of the 36 poets, from a handscroll by Fujiwara Nobuzane, Kamakura period (1192–1333); in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
African American literature
African American literature, body of literature written by Americans of African descent. Beginning in the pre-Revolutionary...
Encyclopedia / Literature
title page of Olaudah Equiano's autobiography
American literature
American literature, the body of written works produced in the English language in the United States. Like other national...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Smith, John: Virginia
Yiddish literature
Yiddish literature, the body of written works produced in the Yiddish language of Ashkenazic Jewry (central and eastern European...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Yiddish theatre poster

Literature Quizzes

Summer red bird, Tanager from The Birds of America by John James Audubon, 4 vol. (435 hand-coloured plates, 1827-38), pl. 44, London. Engraver Robert Havell. Engraving, hand-colored.
Authors of Classic Literature
Who wrote Lord of the Flies? Who wrote I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? Test your mental wingspan by sorting...
Jules Verne (1828-1905) prolific French author whose writings laid much of the foundation of modern science fiction.
Famous Authors
You may be familiar with The Shining and Frankenstein, but do you know the names of the authors behind...
4:043 Dickinson, Emily: A Life of Letters, This is my letter to the world/That never wrote to me; I'll tell you how the Sun Rose/A Ribbon at a time; Hope is the thing with feathers/That perches in the soul
Famous Poets and Poetic Form
Who wrote the long poem The Waste Land? What is the most common meter in English poetry? Test the long and short...
Antoine de Saint-Exupery (1900-44) French aviator and writer of the fable Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) pictured on the left, on French paper currency.
The Little Prince
It was translated into over 250 languages and sold over 140 million copies worldwide, but how much do you know about The...
Performer and audience. An actor with  an outstretched arm performing with spectators, concert, crowd. Hompepage blog 2009, arts and entertainment, history and society
Famous Quotes
From what play does the phrase "Alas, poor Yorick" come? What is the motto of the Three Musketeers? Test your knowledge of...
Books. Lord Alfred Tennyson. Lord Byron. Poetry. Reading. Literacy. Library. Bookshelf. Antique. Four antique leather bound books.
Matching Names to Novels
From Rudyard Kipling and The Great Gatsby to C.S. Lewis and Brave New World, test the depths of your literary...
Sherlock Holmes explaining to Dr. Watson what he has deduced from the pipe left behind by a visitor (see Notes); engraving from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Yellow Face by Arthur Conan Doyle, The Strand Magazine, London, 1893.
Characters in Literature
What did the Wicked Witch of the West demand of Dorothy? Who was the sole survivor of the Pequod? Test your knowledge...
Gulliver in Lilliput. Lemuel Gulliver, set ashore after a mutiny, regains consciousness and finds himself a prisoner of the Lilliputians. From Gulliver's Travels, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts by Jonathan Swift.
Character Education
Do you know the names of the Three Musketeers? From Gulliver’s Travels to Where the Wild Things Are, test...
Ernest Hemingway at the Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba, 1953. Ernest Hemingway American novelist and short-story writer, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.
Profiles of Famous Writers
Was Charles Dickens from the American South? Which Russian writer lived in exile from 1974 to 1994? From a failed Peruvian...
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) The Star Child and the planet Jupiter from the film's final segment "Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite" directed by Stanley Kubrick. Science fiction
From Moby-Dick to Space Odysseys
Who wrote a novel about a world of Eastasia, Eurasia, and Oceania? From Moby-Dick to 2001: A Space Odyssey,...
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Literature Subcategories

subcategory placeholder Folk Literature & Fable
Step into the world of folklore, fables, legends, tall tales, and epics, in which heroes are known to undertake arduous journeys and dragons, fairies, and giants abound. Stories such as these circulated long before systems of writing were developed; ballads, folktales, poems, and the like were transmitted exclusively by word of mouth before written languages took over, and they continue to captivate listeners and readers to this day.
Articles
Fantastic Four Fictional Characters
Here you'll find some of your favorite fictional characters from literature, film, television, and the like, whether it's the analytical mastermind Sherlock Holmes and his endearing associate Dr. Watson or the menacing and helmeted Darth Vader, the ill-tempered Donald Duck or the teenage sleuth Nancy Drew.
Articles
subcategory placeholder Journalism
Extra, extra! Although the content and style of journalism and the medium through which it is delivered have varied significantly over the years, journalism has always given us a way to keep up with current events, so that we always have our fingers on the pulse.
Articles
Edward O. Wilson Libraries & Reference Works
Looking to impress your friends with your expansive knowledge of historical events, philosophical concepts, obscure words, and more? We may be biased, but it seems fair enough to say that reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, and textbooks have provided such a service for years (in some cases, hundreds or even thousands of years). You can look for them at your local public library, which likely stores books, manuscripts, journals, CDs, movies, and other sources of information and entertainment.
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wine bottle Literatures of the World
Literature knows no geographical bounds; authors can be found in nearly all corners of the globe (except, perhaps, on the open sea). Find out more about regional literary styles and forms.
Articles
subcategory placeholder Literary Criticism
Everyone's a critic. But not all literary criticism involves judging the quality of a text; it can also focus on interpreting the meaning of a work or evaluating an author's place in literary history.
Articles
To the Lighthouse Literary Terms
This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
Articles
subcategory placeholder Nonfiction
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Nonfiction works are all about facts and real events. Although there is some debate about which kinds of literature qualify as nonfiction, the genre typically includes books in the categories of biography, memoir, science, history, self-help, cooking, health and fitness, business, and more.
Articles
The War of the Worlds Novels & Short Stories
Whether it's "Don Quixote," "Pride and Prejudice," "The Great Gatsby," or "The Fall of the House of Usher," novels and short stories have been enchanting and transporting readers for a great many years. There's a little something for everyone: within these two genres of literature, a wealth of types and styles can be found, including historical, epistolary, romantic, Gothic, and realist works, along with many more.
Articles
Justus of Ghent: Saint Augustine Oratory
"I have a dream..." "Four score and seven years ago..." It's not a fluke that these phrases came to be so widely known and remembered. Truly great and persuasive speeches elicit strong emotional reactions in their audiences and may have broad historical repercussions. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech and Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, quoted above, are two iconic examples of successful oratory, as are Elizabeth I's speech to the troops at Tilbury and Winston Churchill's first speech as prime minister to the House of Commons.
Articles
Hamlet Plays
All the world's a stage, as Shakespeare put it in "As You Like It"; and the stage is where you'll find performances of works by such famed playwrights as Anton Chekhov, Eugene O'Neill, and the Bard himself, among many others.
Articles
subcategory placeholder Poetry
Poetry is a vast subject that encompasses much more than just your average "Roses are red, violets are blue" poem. Delve into the category of literature that Percy Bysshe Shelley called "a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted," and which includes sonnets, haikus, nursery rhymes, epics, and more.
Articles
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