• Nur Asiyah

Definition on Literature


There have been various attempts to define literature. However, the answers of such a question, so far, have never been satisfactory. It is defined as anything written. It is too broad and too narrow then it excludes oral literature. Robert Frost as quoted by Barnet at all tries to define literature as a “performance in words” ( 1963: 3). At the same time, this project also weaken Dazinger’s and Johnson’s attempt to avoid the dichotomy of written and oral literature by broadly defining literature as ” a verbal art”( 1961:1).

Furthermore, Barnet says that literature is a “short of make- believe” as suggested by its genres : fiction, drama, and poetry. If literature is defined as something ‘creative’ or ‘imaginative’, it is still open arguments. Eagleton argues that It is defined as “ any writing which has the power to move readers’ hearth or to stir his/her emotions”.

Some others attempts to define as “the expression of beautiful thoughts and ideas in beautiful language. This may be not always acceptable. Eagleton states that literature may be better defined according to its particular use of language. He bases his statement upon Jacobson’s idea saying that literature is” a kind of writing which represents an organized violence committed on ordinary speech (and which) transforms and intensifies ordinary language and makes it deviate systematically from everyday speech”.

Anyhow, there is a notion worth considering: Literature is a cultural production which is in a certain society and in certain era regarded as literature. This view rests on facts that literature is not a free object. In specific term literature is defined as a permanent writing which expresses and communicates thought, feeling, and attitudes toward life and the world (William : 1965).

Others definition of literature:

  1. Definitions of the word literature tend to be circular. The Concise Oxford Dictionary says it is “writings whose value lies in the beauty of form or emotional effect.” The 19th-century critic Walter Pater referred to “the matter of imaginative or artistic literature” as a “transcript, not of mere fact, but of fact in its infinitely varied forms.”

  1. Based on pocket Oxford dictionary literature is writings values as works of art.

  1. Literature, according to Garnet in English literature, is the daughter of language. For the study, therefore of a literature is essential to process a clear view of any features of the idiom in which it is conveyed which may contribute to impress it with a peculiar character.

  1. Literature is the art that expresses life in words that appeal to our own sense of the beautiful, we have many writers but few artist. In the broadest sense perhaps literature means simply the written records of the race including all its history and sciences, as well as its poem and novels; in the narrower sense of literature is the artistic record of life and most of our writing is excluded from it, just as the mass of our buildings, mere shelters from storm and from cold, are excluded from architecture. A history or a work of science may be and some times is literature. But only as we forget the subject matter and the presentation of facts in the simple of its expression ( Long : 1945 )

  1. As one of the arts, literature is said to have esthetic value, the response to literature as an art form is called the esthetic response and the response is to its beauty the esthetic response is some what hard to define but every one is know what it is. It is an experience that can be isolated from other experiences, being different in character from them ( Rohr Berger )

  1. Literature is, first of all, a creative work of art, an object that an artist makes. It is not merely an idea a theory, a system of thought, although ideas, theories and system of thought enter into it. ( J William : 1965 )

References :.

Barnet Sylvan, Berman Morton, Burto William. 1963. An introduction to Literature. USA: Little Brawn and Company.

Garnet Richard. English literature an illustrated record. New York : The Macmillan Company

J. George William. 1965. Response to Literature. USA: Mc Hall inc

Long J William. 1945. English Literature its History and its significance for the life of the English speaking world. USA. Gin and Company.

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