What does it mean?
I don't know about you, but the word literature just shouts 'boring books' to me! Now, that's coming from somewhere who'll read almost any genre! And it makes me wonder both why I've got that view, and if my definition of literature is the same as the world's in general.
And so, I turned to the dictionary and this is what it said:
Origin: late Middle English (in the sense 'knowledge of books'): via French from Latin litteratura, from littera (see letter)
- written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit: a great work of literature
- books and writings published on a particular subject: the literature on environmental epidemiology
- leaflets and other printed matter used to advertise products or give advice: advertising and promotional literature
Well, leaflets and adverts certainly don't come to my mind when I think of literature, and neither do letters. Whilst I don't particularly like advertising (especially junk-mail), I do like both receiving and writing letters. And I've read some great books of letters. such at 'The Morello Letters'.
Literature and books and writings on a particular subject allows quite a broad range of books. I don't usually read non-fiction text-books, but some light-hearted approaches can be quite interesting and I guess they'd also fall under this heading.
But I suppose its the first defination that most of us think of when we talk about literature. And I think that's where I rebel. I don't want to think that I'm reading something just because its considered to having "lasting artistic merit". Nor do I really consider some books superior to others. In my opinion different books are considered great by different people, and so I guess what is considered literature to one person is trash to another.
In which case I love literature! I love Terry Pratchett! I love Jasper Fforde! I love Ursula Le Guin! And I love Christian Jacq! All in great warks of literature as far as I'm concerned!
What are your personal great works of literature?