Definition of Literature
Definition of Literature
Literature is an outlet of escape from reality. At the end of the day, I open a book and allow the story to take me to a world where my own fades into a distant memory. With every turn of a page, my imagination is free to reinvent a narrative that is better than the reality I live. Literature can be non-fiction and based on facts surrounding real events, people, and places. Examples include history books, memoirs, biographies, newspapers, self-help, devotionals, and textbooks. Literature can also be writings based not on truth, but on the imagination and creativity of the author.
This includes fiction novels and children story books. A lot of times authors of fiction will get their idea from a real life event and then they allow their imagination to recreate the characters and plot. Aside from being fiction or non-fiction, literature can also fall into different categories according to the genre, purpose, and style. Some genres include romance, science fiction, Christian, suspense, and western. The authors purpose for writing will likely determine what style and genre they will use. Poetry and drama are forms of literature that are stylistically different from other writings.
Every writer wants to engage their audience and capture their attention in order to convey a message. The meaning of the text may hold differing messages within the audience, but it is the goal of the author to captivate the reader and keep them wanting to read more. John Smith wrote historical accounts of life while he was living. His writings brought insight and hope regarding English settlement during the early 1600s. The General History of Virginia is difficult to comprehend in areas because I am unfamiliar with his use and style of language, but nonetheless it is a beautifully written piece of literature.
John Smith’s targeted audience was most likely the people of his time, with the goal of informing them of recent events. I appreciate the way he portrays the struggles of daily life realistically and in a way that inspires and intrigues. William Bradford was not formally educauted, yet he was a wise and well-read man. His writings spread throughout the world and have been studied and quoted by many. As with most of the literature from his time period, Bradford’s style is simple, but he writes with such conviction that demands the attention and respect of the reader.
Bradford was a man of faith and often expressed this in his writing. In Of Plymouth Plantation he often refers to God’s providence and makes continuous references to God. Bradford may refer to God more than any other author in this colonial unit. Anne Bradstreet was a powerful force in literature during the 1960s because she was one of the first recognized women poets. Centuries later she is a revered writer and her poetry remains enchanting. “Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain…” is the opening line to her poem The Author of Her Book and illustrates just how feeble her brain is not.
She has the unique capacity to use words to express herself so creatively and with so much emotion. To My Dear and Loving Husband is a great romantic poem that I admire. Bradstreet’s style reminds me slightly of my own. However I need more experience and practice to become nearly as talented as she. Upon the Burning of Our House reminds of my own experience of a house fire and has inspired me to attempt to capture my experience through poetry. Through all Anne Bradstreet’s work, she inspires others to recognize the beauty and power in writing.
Edward Taylor was a highly educated, well respected, and devout religious man who used poetry as a private expression of his faith. He did not seek fame or recognition for his writing, rather just the pleasure it brought him. Taylor writes of God beautifully and is a master of creating moving and emotional works of art without intending to. As with most poets, Taylor and Bradstreet used metaphors and had a personal style unique from others. There is also an overflowing of emotion from both Taylor and Bradstreet within all their writings.
William Byrd was a very accomplished man of his time. He was well educated, respected, and prosperous. His most famous writings are the journals that he wrote to describe day to day life. In The History of the Dividing Line I was able to pick up on the humor that has lead Byrd to be one of the first distinct comedic writers. The humor is not “pee your pants funny” rather it is more light-hearted humor that makes the reader smile. It is evident in his writing that Byrd was indeed well-read. A writer is capable of learning a great deal about language, word usage, and style through reading.
Byrd’s style is simple, yet he articulates his message very well and although he wrote for himself, he managed to write in a way that would capture an audience’s attention. Jonathan Edwards was an intelligent man of God who served as a preacher. As an author, he wrote popular sermons and other serious works on religion, metaphysics, and philosophy. Edwards’ style of writing is quite different from other authors in this unit because unlike the others he gives the reader an array of possible positions for the topic he is presenting.
In the sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, Edwards develops his view on destruction and punishment from verses in Deuteronomy. Not only does he explain how he interprets the scripture, he also gives other possible views. St. Jean De Crevecoeur wrote about religion but he did not profess or maintain that he believed in God. He was a well-educated humanitarian who served his people and country. I found Letters from an American Farmer difficult to get through because his style of writing is unexciting. I was also turned off by the way he wrote about certain topics particularly African American issues.
Crevecoeur was not a racist man, but he lacked some sensitivity in discussing his unique view on negroes and parenting. He believed that negroes should not continue having children because if they did misery would undeniably result for themselves and their offspring. I understand that he is referring to slaves and perhaps even slaves may have wished to not have children in order to save future generations from being forced into slavery. Crevecoeur surprised me with the boldness in his writing. The progression of writing from Smith to Crevecoeur is interesting to track and there are noticeable changes in language and word usage.
As defined earlier, literature to me is written art that engages my imagination and takes my mind away from reality. Not every piece of literature will bring me the pleasure of leaving my own world for a moment and that does not mean the author has failed. Genre plays an important role in this element of the definition. For example the writings from the colonies unit are primarily non-fiction history writings that are meant to inform more than entertain. Anne Bradstreet is an exception. As the writer of poetry, her style is most obviously different from the more serious and constructed essays of the other writers.
Every writer has a style that is unique, however one similarity in the colonial writings is the purpose of the author’s writing. Many of the writers were writing for the sake of recording daily life and making historical accounts of slavery, war, and developing colony life. Centuries later, authors such as Smith, Bradford, Bradstreet, Taylor, Edwards, and Crevecoeur are recognized as masters in the field of writing. Writers during the establishment of the colonies wrote simple, yet serious and powerful pieces of art. They have a style of writing and voice that still captures the hearts of readers.