What is literature?
When we talk about literature, we refer to a type of artistic expression that is based mainly on the use of oral and written language. In this sense, the author of literary works uses the word as the medium that will serve for the expression of a feeling, dream, desire, idea, event or experience, which can be real or fictitious.
Literature as a concept also applies to the means of expression of a language, a set of knowledge and a set of productions of a specific space and time.
Definition of literature
We can define literature as an artistic activity whose means of expression is language. The concept also allows us to define a group of literary productions that are born in a country, a particular genre or a period of time. Literature is defined as a verbal expression that includes written texts, as well as sung or spoken texts.
The earliest known form of literature is oral transmission, hence literature defines both orality and writing. Literature is an art and therefore it is united with other arts that have an aesthetic purpose.
Meaning of literature
The word Literature, comes from the term litterae, which in Latin, refers to a selection of knowledge for reading and writing, so it is also coined to meanings related to learning itself or grammar. Thus, the author makes aesthetic use of the word in order to develop a literary work or production, whether spoken or written. Because of its etymology, literature is related to culture and that is why it has been gathered within the artistic field.
Although the concept and meaning of literature has changed over time due to its subjective nature, it is still considered that literary works must have an intellectual or aesthetic value.
Literary canon: What is not literature?
The literary canon is the means by which a model is measured and constructed to define what is and is not literature. In this sense, the literary canon gathers a list of classic works that, in spite of time, are still read with great interest and enjoy artistic prestige, considered fundamental works for the teaching of literature. These types of works become inescapable references of a particular culture and of universal culture, capable of stimulating literary reading.
It is important to bear in mind that there is no universally accepted definition of the literary canon, since it has been the subject of extensive discussions in relation to its origin, literary components, among other aspects. However, the prevailing criterion is that it must be aesthetic excellence that allows a work to reach this level.
So, what is not literature? A text is non-literary when its purpose is informative, expository or instructive, so that scientific, academic or instructive articles, journalistic articles, chronicles, advertising texts, informative letters, web page content, etc. are not part of literature. They do not contain marvelous or fictitious content.
Language and literature (introduction)
Language refers to the system of signs that has specific characteristics, i.e. the linguistic code, the vowels and the way in which they articulate. Language is governed by rules within a community that knows and uses them on a daily basis. It is an essential part of language. Thus, it becomes humanity’s means of expression and communication, and literature as its immediate means of expression in a given area.
Characteristics of literature
Among the main characteristics of literature, we find that it is an ancient artistic expression. In fact, the oldest work that has been found is the Poem of Gilgamesh.
Literature is composed of literary genres that give rise to other types of literature that have spread throughout the world. The language used in each of the works fulfills a poetic function within the language. It is a production that is born from the creativity and originality of each of the authors, who for the creation can be based on sensations, experiences, historical events, feelings and others. On the other hand, literature is studied on the basis of literary theory, which allows, among other things, to analyze the structure of its discourse and composition in general.
As we mentioned, not everything that is written or said is considered literature; it must be based on the literary canon and the function of the text to determine whether it is or not.
Literary movements refer to a series of works of literature that are created in a specific period and, at the same time, share elements in terms of themes, ideology, styles, among other key aspects. Thus, within the literary currents, there are a large number of authors who begin to put on the table the reality from its social, cultural and political context, according to a specific space and time.
It is important to take into account that several of the literary movements have contact and some of them coincide with other artistic expressions that take place, in this case with fundamental fields such as painting and music, where the strength of the literary currents is evident.
The literary movements are: classicism, renaissance, neoclassicism, realism, medieval, baroque, romanticism, modernism, postmodernism, avant-gardism and post-avant-gardism.
Literature, since its consolidation, has begun to be divided into categories historically, although it should be mentioned that another part of this organization is directly related to the writing and content of these literary manifestations. Since this is how it has functioned throughout history, it has undergone changes and multiple forms of classification.
Thus, literary genres are the classes into which literary texts are divided, which have a specific purpose and a specific concept in which they are developed. In turn, each of these genres has subgenres into which they are divided and which share key characteristics.
Types of literature
Within the literary genres, particularly within the narrative genre with subgenres such as the novel, the short story and poetry, there are types or classes of literature, which allow to classify a work with much more specific characteristics of distinction. Thus, in the first place, two essential categories are distinguished: oral literature, linked to popular beliefs transmitted through the spoken word, and written literature, which appears through physical forms, from its beginnings with clay tablets and figures on rocks and walls.
After this, comes a second classification that includes non-fiction literature, which is elaborated from facts and fictional or fictional literature, which is permeated by inventions up to certain aspects.
Hence, other types of literature are derived such as: fantastic literature, children’s literature, juvenile literature, erotic literature, realistic fiction literature, cult literature, romantic literature, futuristic literature, gray literature, feminist literature, gothic literature, horror literature, crime literature.
History of Literature – Epochs and Origin
The origin of literature at an exact time and place remains unknown to experts. Literary history is based on the dissemination of events that have taken place in the world from epochs or stages, being these expressed in written or narrated form.
Preclassical period (19th century B.C. – 7th century B.C.)
During this time, the human being tries to give an explanation to the origin of the universe and the world in which he lives based on supernatural beings. These will be characteristics of the time that will be marked in the literary field expressing, also, the relationship between human beings and nature, in addition to the natural phenomena to which they also seek to explain, the origin of peoples, human behavior and the relationship between human beings and God. This period is located in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt and Judea, but also in India and China.
It is in the pre-classical period that legends, myths and other works were born, which later gave rise to epic songs and epics (which we will discuss in the literary genres).
Classical or ancient period (7th century B.C. – 3rd century A.D.)
At this time, the development of Latin and Greek culture began. The concerns of human beings revolve around rationality, the universe and the world, where literary expression will be endowed with predominant languages. Thus, literature will take on more defined characteristics in terms of its forms and content. Other elements that will emerge at this time will be the classification of works according to the narration of historical facts and the description of human prototypes.
Its main center of development will be Greece, the place where the most important epics of universal literature will emerge, such as “The Odyssey” and “The Iliad”, which contain mythical and legendary facts. It is to this culture that we owe the classification of literary works into literary genres.
Medieval period (End of the 3rd century A.D. – 14th century A.D.)
Christianity begins to gain strength in the West and in this sense the cultural manifestations will be characterized by carrying content around religious activity, expressing the ideals of the Christian religion, including the duration of life, religious morality, contemplation of God, divine punishments, among other aspects, all governed by the theocentric vision.
However, artistic manifestations, including literature, will come into contact with the popular classes and the cult begins to shape a symbiosis that combines religion with paganism. Literature is divided between cult literature with the preservation of ancient texts elaborated by clerics, bearing the name of “Mester de clerecía”, and the literature of oral tradition that will be a reflection of daily life and popular imagination.
At this time, literature will be based on the study of classical Greco-Latin antiquity. The anthropocentric vision of the world will be united with a rationalist attitude open and applied to life. The human being will be exalted in the artistic expressions, while the theater will be the one that evidences the religious crisis that arises in this instant by the Reformation. Mystical poetry will stand out at this time, planting the communion with God, the narrative will be key and one of the most important works will emerge “The Divine Comedy” by Dante, and the lyric gives way to courtly poetry with the figures of idealized love and nature. Other fundamental references for the development of literature appear, such as Lope de Vega, William Shakespeare and Tirso de Molina.
Baroque period (16th century A.D. and 17th century A.D.)
Known as the baroque literature, at this time, the literary field will be impregnated with an excess of ornaments that will enter into communication with the use of literary figures and with the hermeticism of the language. This moment that arose in Europe, mainly in Spain, since it was born as a religious art, would later be divided into conceptismo and culteranismo. The former is defined by the intention of intensifying the expression with verses and prose, as part of the lyric. While culteranismo will be the current that focuses on the meaning of words, also known as cultism.
Neoclassical period (End of the XVII century A.D. – XVIII century A.D.)
After the baroque period, there is a concern of artists to return to the imitation of classical models, including models of expression and approaches that had the literature, a time also known as neoclassicism. The main characteristic of the time will be the dominance of reason in the arts, a moment that will give rise to the pedagogical ideal of literature for teaching using it as a medium.
At this time, other genres and components of literature were born, such as the essay and the fable, where the content and the form of expression continued to be used in the same models. The adventure novel also arises, it is the space for the development of classical theater in France and other key ideas for the development of the ideas of the Enlightenment appear, opening the door to romanticism in literature.
Romantic period (End of the XVIII century A.D. – XIX)
Although it began in the European continent, this period also extended to America due to the wars of independence that arose there. Thus, the also known as literary romanticism comprises the literary school that focused on a spirit that highlights subjectivism, expresses the predominance of feelings over reason, the union and contemplation of nature and the general breaking of norms.
The Romantics, precursors of this literary school, establish that the works developed should not necessarily be subject to reality, but should express the writer’s state of mind, since the content is more important than the form in which it is realized. The refuge of his own “I” will be one of the most important characteristics of literary creation that does not exempt him from the events of reality.
In this period, realist literature and naturalist literature arose, which developed productions evidencing other types of valuations where objectivism, positivism, science and other aspects of human life prevailed.
Modernist period (19th century A.D. – 20th century A.D.)
During this period, the literature produced is subject to the search for formal perfection, so that it moves away from reality and is housed in the fantasy world, resorting to characters such as princesses and princes, also drawing spaces with remote landscapes. Here arises the concept of “art for art’s sake”. For modernist literature it will be important to maintain form over content.
It is important to keep in mind that the lyrical movement belongs to Latin America, giving rise to the exotic that unites symbols that are part of classical antiquity. It was a short-lived period but considered a literary school that expanded substantially in the field of poetry.
Contemporary period (20th century A.D. to the present)
This period is characterized by an intense development of literary technique, as well as the methods of production that emerged in the middle of the 19th century mixed with the methods of the beginning of the 20th century. Aspects such as the new theories of language, the development of socialist ideas, the world wars, the emergence of psychoanalysis, among others, will give particularities to literature.
An important reference of the time is Ferdinand de Saussure, who will say that words are signs that serve to express reality but do not coincide with the essence of each of the objects, which will open the door to forms of artistic expression involving discoveries and other conflicts in movements, which became known as “avant-gardism”.
For its part, avant-gardism will be responsible for including progress and technological products with the new techniques of narrative, creating experimental techniques in relation to the use of language, the creation of words, the creation of terms, among other activities.
This moment will give birth to modern literature in which will emerge, also, the literature of postromanticism, modernism, postmodernism and the literary avant-garde.
Literature by place in the world
Although we saw before a little of its history and origin of literature, each part of the world lived in a different way the art of literature, so we will make a small summary.
Literature in the Middle East
We begin with this area of the world, since it was here that the first types of texts were developed due to the development of the main cities. These texts appear on clay tablets with varied content, such as mythological themes, among the most important, as well as love texts. Sumerian literature is the oldest literature known to date, since it was precisely the Sumerians who created the first writing system that began to be formed with cuneiform logograms until it reached the development of the syllabic writing system. However, it is important to keep in mind that Sumerian literature begins in a phase of oral literature and it is only until the year 2600 B.C. that it begins to be represented in writing. The legendary events narrated within the epic literature of this period, begin to form links with four kings, among them and one of the most representative of oriental literature is that of Gilgamesh, where a series of episodes that will be part of the well-known Poem of Gilgamesh are narrated.
For their part, the Phoenicians will have a strong influence on Hebrew literature or Hebrew literature, mainly due to the variety that will appear in this field. However, after the Hellenistic conquest of the Middle East and another series of events such as the Roman conquest of Carthage, the information available has been substantially reduced.
It is in Eastern literature where the first manifestations of literary genres that would later be consolidated within the field of literature appear, especially in Sanskrit literature, which would be characterized by its religious character and use within the liturgy. The best known and oldest is the Rig-Veda, a series of hymns dedicated to the gods that will give an account of the manifestations of the Indo-European peoples. Also at this time, Vedic literature will emerge with works such as Upanishada, epic literature that was transmitted orally with legendary acts that also narrate the wanderings of the gods and other figures. The Ramayana of Valmiki and the Mahabharata stand out in this area.
This is one of the most important manifestations in the literary field, since it is one of the most important references of writing, which began with a symbolism based on figures that are currently known as hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphs were implemented for the writing of the set of elements that were part of their culture and the history of the inhabitants who gathered on the banks of the Nile River.
Thanks to this series of practices, the world was able to have knowledge of the pigments that were used for the creation of manuscripts and the production of papyrus, resources that, later on, would be key to the development of writing and that facilitate access for all. Egyptian literature focused, in principle, on the compilation of culture and rituals to be passed on from generation to generation. Often its hieroglyphs were related to mythology, the proper behavior of the inhabitants, laws and customs. After this, the texts began to be used for educational purposes, so that the language was made easier to understand.
Both Mesopotamian literature, to whom the invention of writing is attributed, and Egyptian literature, were the historical origin and development of writing for the later emergence of literature.
Mesopotamia is credited with the development of writing, which was first pictographic and later phonetic. Little by little, the pictographic symbols began a linearization that led to the emergence of cuneiform writing, which was shared by both the Akkadians and the Sumerians. This writing, in its beginnings, was used for administrative purposes of the inhabitants, hence, later, Mesopotamian literature emerged, which began to include the explanation of events and the writing of legends to transmit them.
Mesopotamian literature began with oral literature, where texts were developed in relation to myths and thus the life of the gods, lamentations, which were songs about catastrophes and war, and hymns, which were sung in praise of the gods and kings.
Within literature we find Hebrew literature, which was mainly noted for its productions in verse and prose written in Hebrew by both Jews and non-Jews from the twelfth century BC. Hebrew literature had a great importance within literature and culture, because it highlights texts of great value as the Old Testament, one of the divisions of the Bible and the Torah, the latter being fundamental for the Hebrew history, customs and traditions.
Thus, Hebrew literature is one of the most widely spread cultural manifestations in the world. One of the main reasons why it managed to spread is because it was produced at different times in history, although it is in medieval times where it will have its maximum boom and part of the modern era.
Hebrew literature will stand out mainly for its strong religious themes, which, as mentioned, will give rise to the most important works in this language. Gradually it came to be combined with genres of literature, a process that was crucial for the enrichment of literature in several countries such as Italy and Spain.
It is believed that the origin of literature in China appears more than three thousand years ago, given the documents that experts have found, which date back to the dynasties, especially the Zhou dynasty that ruled in 1122 BC, known as the traditional Chinese dynasty and the second after the Shang dynasty.
It is important to emphasize that Chinese philosophy begins a path away from Greek philosophy, since, instead of extensive dialogues in his writings, he opted for proverbs that touch on issues related primarily to love and respect for nature, but also to the elders, parents, political order, social order and religious order. This will be a crucial element in all artistic compositions.
These first manifestations in Chinese literature will be evidenced in bronze vessels, which appear in the Shang dynasty. Among the fields handled by Chinese literature texts are philosophy, poetry compilations, history and other texts dedicated to oral transmission to the next generations. Another notorious particularity of this literature is that it will not allow any kind of foreign influence, since it does not allow the passage to the outside world.
This type of literature, as in other regions of the world, was used to tell the daily life, as well as the relationship with the gods and other elements that were part of their way of seeing the world. However, the arrival of the conquistadors caused the loss of most of these works, considering their productions and texts as “demonic” and wrong.
In spite of this, the Maya authors did not stop writing and although at first they continued to use their own writing techniques, they soon began to implement the Roman alphabet. This would be the only way in which they could preserve several elements of their tradition, including songs, prayers, games and speeches that could be passed on to the next generations and which have a substantial value for the history and heritage of their territories.
The complex writing system developed by the Maya has prevented it from being fully deciphered. To this is added the religious syncretism and the cultural influences imposed by the conquerors. Among the most important works are the Popol Vuh, one of the texts that survives the Spanish conquest and includes the description of the creation of the Maya universe. There are also other texts such as the Books of Chilam Balam, Rabinal Achí, a literary work, among a few others.
Indian or Sanskrit literature
It appears around 2500 B.C. and is also considered a cultured language used by the first Indo-Europeans, which brought together peoples located in Eastern Europe and Western Asia from the end of the Neolithic period. Within the Indo-European languages we find Greek, Italic, Slavic, Sanskrit, Germanic and others used by these peoples.
Sanskrit literature, as we mentioned, focuses on religious themes, including wisdom and worship. This is how their productions begin to be considered as the first sacred texts of the Hindu tradition, being this the first religion to appear in India. The oldest texts are divided into Samhita, Brahmana and the Sutra. The first contains hymns dedicated to the priests whose reading was an invitation to attend the sacrifices performed in their honor. They will include poetic images and its frequent protagonist will be the nature, field that reduces the figure of the human being. It will also include other themes such as domestic rites, funeral songs, nuptial songs, rites for worship, among others.
Secondly, the Brahmana gather explanations of esoteric character in front of the sacrifices. Their rapid diffusion was due to the fact that they were produced within the sects of the Vedas, where each one performed them. Their themes bring together secret doctrines, considered as key elements of Indian philosophy, the search for the origin of time, the soul of the human being, the universe and divinity. And finally, the Sutra, will be a compilation of formulas on rites and varied elements between astronomy and grammar. Due to their short length, they could be easily memorized, which facilitated the diffusion within Brahmanism confronted with Buddhism.
Chinese culture, around the 5th century A.D., began to be transmitted to Japan, however, the creation of literature was very original in relation to its cultural influence. In addition, Japan was also influenced by civilization in general, including its religion, worldview, political organization and other activities.
One of the most important characteristics within the literature of Japan, has to do with the aesthetic tendency, since it highlights everything elegant and beautiful, where texts such as the Tanka and the Haikai stand out. The first text consists of a series of verses that express the poetic tradition with a fine contemplation towards nature. The Haiki, on the other hand, will contain a series of determined verses and syllables, 5-7-5.
The first contact with Japanese literature dates back to the European missionaries, but also to the seafarers of the XVI century and the merchants, after which there were Japanese converts to Catholicism. This fact generated the need to limit the entrance of foreigners, so until the middle of the 19th century they stopped opening the doors to the exterior in order not to receive external influences, seeking to maintain and strengthen the union with the millenary traditions.
The first productions of Japanese literature took the form of market poems (influenced by China) and songs. One of the most important texts will be the Kokiki chronicles, in which events of humanity are portrayed through memory. During the beginning of the 3rd century a great deal of poetry is written that reaches artistic perfection and has become one of the strongest references for world literature. One of the main compilations is the Manyoshu, which gathers about 4,500 poems and is considered, so far, as the most important poetic anthology of Japanese literature.
The classification of this type of literature was divided into two parts. The first stage corresponds to all that literature made before Mohammed, around the 6th to 7th century AD. At this time the Arabic lyrical songs emerged, among them the most representative and the one that is preserved is called the Casidas. Short legends, proverbs and poetry also emerged, which was transmitted orally from the Ruwat, a kind of medieval troubadours or similar to the Greek rhapsodes.
In this case, the pre-Islamic rhapsodes had a very important function, since, when they became writers, they also became warriors. This will be fundamental, since within the poetry elaborated by them, frequent themes related to courage, fight and strength will appear, although they will not be the only ones, since poets will also appear with praises to other aspects of their own lives.
The second stage begins with the foundation of Islam by Muhammad, who began preaching at the age of 40, inspired by Judaic traditions and elements of Christianity. His practice, although gathering a large number of followers, also gathered many enemies, so that in 622 he had to flee to Mecca. This year of the Hegira marks the beginning of the Muslim calendar. By then, he armed himself with a large army to impose his religion and subsequently died. The word of God transmitted to Mohammed through the archangel Gabriel, lives in the holy book called the Koran, which includes the revelations written by his disciples.
One of the most important points of reference within culture and civilization are the Greeks, and with it their ideas, which have achieved an incredible influence in different areas of the world. An example of this is the Greek literature, in which the characters are born, but also the stereotypes that will be present in all periods of history and likewise, within the great works of world literature. One of the starting points are the epics of Homer, a series of epic poems that tell the deeds of the heroes, so that texts such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, will be the key points of the tradition of Greek oral transmission.
It should be taken into account that the geography and the location of the population in small societies favored aspects such as the social, economic and cultural fields, organized in city-states, also known as polis. On the other hand, there is also the Greek mythology, which begins within the Mycenaean culture with dyes that combine Mediterranean and Indo-Germanic elements.
Greek myths focused on the explanation of the origin of the world, but also on everything that happened on Earth, so they become a direct reference to the legendary past through which they could find a sense of identity with the events. This mythology also functioned as a kind of protection against the immensity, since it provided them with all the answers they needed. All this set of elements will give rise to a parallel world that will be inhabited by the gods, known as Mount Olympus, but there will also live the demigods and all those heroes who lived with humans.
The development of Roman culture took as its main point of reference the Greek tradition and many specialists have developed the idea that many of the Roman elements were an imitation of Greek elements. For its part, Roman culture began with the legend of Romulus and Remus, thus taking a mainly mythological order. With the destruction of Troy, a series of confrontations began. After several generations, Romulus and Remus, descendants of Aeneas, were born. When they grew up, they founded the city in the area where they were saved by the she-wolf, since their mother had abandoned them. The election of the governor was put to the order of the gods, who chose Romulus, who subsequently murdered his brother Remus.
The writing of Roman works was done in Latin, which was the natural language of the culture, although there are others written in Greek. This is how Roman literature was born with the acceptance of Latin as the official language, which is why it is also called Latin literature. Despite the great influences of Greek culture within Roman culture, the literature of Rome will also be key to enrich world literature, since it initiated a series of changes that will allow the advancement of poetry with elements such as satire.
One of the fundamental characteristics of Roman literature has to do with the transformation of the Roman State, since it had a strong influence on popular opinion. Thus, literature began to be implemented as a kind of social division that would only allow access to the literate and not to ordinary citizens, who had to limit themselves to the editions that were allowed and produced by their own government. This decision led many authors to live in anonymity, creating literary works in Rome and included within the stage of early Roman literature, although they began to emerge from obscurity with the development of literary style.
Another fundamental aspect that should not be left unmentioned are the genres that arise within the Roman literature, given that lyrical poetry, epic poetry and Latin theater, which enjoyed great acceptance, especially comedy, which mainly took force. The Roman theater style will be key to the presentation of plays that did not have a script, since the actions were based on the same story, so that the actions were developed by moments narrated and propitiated by the audience itself, giving shape to theatrical improvisation. The main works of Roman literature are The Letters to Lucilius by Seneca, The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, The Aeneid by Virgil, The Art of Loving by Ovid and The Epistle to the Pisones by Horace.
As we mentioned, very close to the Roman literature, Latin literature will be contemplated in its beginnings with a strong relation to the life of the saints and another series of works that are part of the historical tradition that is based on faith. One of the main referents of this type of literature was Eusebius of Caesarea, known as the father of the history of the church, since his stories were impregnated with historical content about primitive Christianity.
By this time and at this stage of literature in this region, dramaturgy begins to reduce its participation, however this did not happen with the representations that were made in the Via Crucis and other representations of the mysteries, which were focused on spreading the belief of Christianity among the people of the town. Here also arises a wide interest on the part of the Muslims, who seek to preserve the philosophical writings, but also scientific writings coming from Greece, who were unaware of the influence it would have on the development of writing in the European continent.
Literature in Persia began its development simultaneously with the Renaissance. During this time a strong rise of tradition continues within the cultures, especially linked to production. One of the peculiarities of Persian literature has to do with the normative force, implemented in the literatures that developed in other Muslim nations. This literature enjoyed a great diffusion due to the extension of the empire, even today it is possible to find works in Central Asian countries.
Writing, in its beginnings, was used for economic and administrative purposes, which is why only scribes and, in other cases, members of the clergy were able to implement it. In other spaces, the works were related to religious themes configured in poems and even love stories began to appear. Frequently the language used would be Greek and Aramaic. However, during this period orality prevailed, which is why very few works of Persian literature are preserved, such as the Rubaiyat, a collection of poems that had a specific structure of four-line stanzas.
This type of literature arose with the advance of Latin, from which several Romance languages began to derive that had the same root in common. This type of literature also developed in other countries under the same language, including former French colonies, Canada, Switzerland and Belgium. An important particularity of this type of literature has to do with the fact that it is the product of a union of Oyl languages, a set of Romance languages belonging to territories now in France, which predominated in this area.
It was born around the 9th century and the first writings that took place within French literature were works written in the Romance language. Such is the influence of the works developed in this language, that soon its production and diffusion will open the doors to the emergence of new literary movements in the creative field, but also to other fields of art that will appear within universal art and universal literature.
The literary works that would be produced here would be in different languages of the nearby regions and would even use Latin for their productions. A fundamental aspect of Italian literature has to do with the unification of the country, since it influenced this process, in addition, it served as a form of cultural identification and closeness, due to the fragmentation that the nation had suffered.
On the other hand, Italian literature was reinforced by the process of revitalization of religious sentiment, where the pioneer was St. Francis of Assisi and his faithful, since they began to create a series of lyrical productions and sacred songs that became part of the central popular zone of Italy. In addition, Italian literature begins to divide into different schools defined by origin and philosophy. A key aspect of this literature is related to the fact that it promoted in an important way the classical style of writing and compositions, largely influenced by myths and cultures coming from other regions and which served as a reference for writers.
Among the main authors of this process we find Francesco Tetrarch, Dante Alighieri, Niccolo Machiavelli, Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, among others.
This type of literature, which will gain strength with the English language, will not depend directly on the origin of those who write it, so that English literature texts will be found in different periods of history, this is one of its main characteristics. At
Another important aspect of English literature has to do with the influences it received from French literature and Italian literature, however, it manages to consolidate its own style that had a great impact in the field of poetry and highlighting reference authors in theater and drama. It is considered one of the richest literatures in genres, given that until the contemporary era, he highlighted classic and current genres in the development of his works. Among the frequent themes of his works are drama, comedy, fantasy, fiction, satire, theater, prose, autobiography, among others.
Among the most important representatives are William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Oscar Wilde, among others.
This literature begins when art begins to be linked to the reality of the peoples and politics, since it arises at a key moment for the rescue of the particularities and myths that emerged from the peoples and their own history. Let us remember that indigenism began as a current of anthropological character focused on indigenous cultures and with this, it began the analysis of discriminatory practices that violate the rights of indigenous peoples.
Thus, its texts will mainly deal with the problems suffered by these peoples in relation to the exploitation practices to which they are subjected by the dominant ones. One of the most important antecedents of indigenist literature is the text Aves sin nido, a romantic novel that narrates the reality of those dominated by political, ecclesiastical and juridical power. In general, indigenist literature involves social content, but also mythical content, poetry, ethnic practices, among others that will even account for religious syncretism and other elements that manage to develop and be preserved after the conquest.
This literature gathers all the literary expressions made in the Mexican territory or by writers who performed their works in the Mesoamerican territory, especially in the pre-Columbian and colonial periods. Along with Mexican literature, Argentine literature also stands out as important sources of American literature.
In principle, oral transmission was widely used in the territory in order to transmit and maintain the narratives of their peoples and mythology, in addition, they had their own writing system focused on specific uses. Particularly, Mexican literature is going to focus on themes that link the Mexican revolution, along with a series of aspects that talk about economic inequality, social inequality, poverty, among other related topics.
Among the most important and representative writers of Mexico we find Octavio Paz, Juan Rulfo, Carlos Fuentes, among others.
This literature, unlike others such as Mexican literature, does not contain Amerindian traits in its manifestations. This is mainly due to the fact that the records found are a series of chronicles that were written by foreign travelers. Thus, this literature will be endowed with elements such as poems and prose of a commemorative type, and hymns. In Argentina, gaucho literature, that is to say, literature focused on the gauchos, a kind of cowboys characteristic of this area.
Thus, within the literary manifestations, themes such as victories, chores, sadness, customs, etc., will often be touched upon, since they will be taken as a fundamental symbol. Later, authors such as Güiraldes and Quiroga, will treat the themes with innovation and will take a look at the national development. Finally, Argentine literature will participate in the avant-garde with an important presence of authors.
This field includes all types of manifestations written in the Portuguese language or written by Portuguese people. Its beginnings are located in medieval times, although they also appear in the Renaissance, a time when several representative figures appear, among them Sá de Miranda, Bernardim Ribeiro, among others who worked on epic poetry. Another of the greatest representatives of the time is Fernando Pessoa, who was considered one of the great poets of Portugal.
In addition to lyric and epic poetry, other fields of literature such as prose, theater, novels and lyric poetry were also developed. However, it should be taken into account that Portuguese literature is one of those that has been little esteemed during its development due to the little interest that the Spanish had, given the difference in language, as well as the little circulation of Portuguese works, although they begin to approach other areas with the writing in Spanish of Portuguese stories.
This literature gathers all the literary expressions made in the German-speaking countries, including Austria and Switzerland. Its beginnings date back to the VIII century and it is strongly linked to the growth of the German nation, as well as its unification process, as it will be evidenced in the XIX and XX centuries.
Particularly German literature enjoys a great prestige within the universal literature, reason for which the Germanic songs of deeds such as the Song of the Nibelungs, the Song of Hildebrando, among others, stand out. Other fields such as court poetry and chivalric poetry were also worked on, which were decisive for the development of other fields later on. Other key authors of German literature are Paul Celan, Rainer Maria von Rilke and Franz Kafka.
Russian literature marks its beginnings with vernacular literature and a series of texts of a religious nature. However, it is necessary to take into account that, during its development, it also began with oral transmission, which was practiced in homes and began to pass from generation to generation, together with other elements coming from Christianity, the most ancient paganism and vestiges of Byzantinism. Thus, folk stories will be the first manifestations of Russian literature.
When writing began, which started with the Enlightenment, the vast majority of works in Old Russian were anonymous, such as the famous Song of the Hosts, a text published at the end of the 12th century. Later, with the appearance of Russian vernaculars, the ecclesiastic Avvakum appeared, who became one of the precursors of the modern Russian language. Areas such as prose, poetry, novels, and children’s and young people’s literature will be worked on.