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    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, July 16, 2020

    What did Sir Walter Scott write?
    What did Sir Walter Scott write?
    Companion / Literature
    Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet, Scottish historical novelist and poet, 1870. Portrait of Scott author of Ivanhoe. Scotland
    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.
    10 Failed Doomsday Predictions
    Predictions for the end of the world that (obviously) didn’t come true.
    List / Literature
    Artist interpretation of a Space meteoroid impact. Meteor impact. Asteroid, End of the world, danger, destruction, dinosaur extinct, Judgement Day, Planet Earth, Doomsday Predictions, comet
    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...
    Persian literature
    Persian literature, body of writings in New Persian (also called Modern Persian), the form of the Persian language written...
    Encyclopedia / Literature
    wine bottle
    African literature
    African literature, the body of traditional oral and written literatures in Afro-Asiatic and African languages together with...
    Encyclopedia / Literature
    Athol Fugard with John Kani and Winston Ntshona
    Central Asian arts
    Central Asian arts, the literary, performing, and visual arts of a large portion of Asia embracing the Turkic republics (Uzbekistan,...
    Encyclopedia / Literature
    Mongol shaman wearing a ritual gown and holding a drum with the image of a spirit helper, c. 1909.
    African American literature
    African American literature, body of literature written by Americans of African descent. Beginning in the pre-Revolutionary...
    Encyclopedia / Literature
    Title page from the first edition of The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano; or, Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself (1789).

    Literature Quizzes

    9:024-25 Law: Learning the Rules, students voting for longer morning or afternoon recess, teacher tallies votes on the chalkboard
    Plain English
    Does orthography refer to proper pronounciation? Can a colon be used to join two words into a single compound word? Dot your...
    Illustration of silhouettes climbing and sitting on stacks of books. Reading. Education.
    Word Play
    Does "disquisition" mean "a formal inquiry"? Does "exemptive" mean "out of the ordinary"? From "tighten" to "strange," play...
    M-W Article: alphabet; Art description: 26 capital letters of the English alphabet
    Synonyms vs. Antonyms
    Is "meager" an antonym for "abundant"? Is "meek" a synonym for "timid"? Test the "ins" and "outs" of your knowledge in this...
    Proofreaders' marks. proofreading, type, typesetting
    Name that Mark
    What languages use the tilde? What is a "tittle"? Test your knowledge of marks and symbols with this quiz.
    Onomatopoeia. A red goldfish jumps out of water and the text Splash! creates an aquatic cartoon for noise. Onomatopoeia a word that imitates a natural sound.
    Literary Devices
    Do you know synecdoche from metonymy? Test your knowledge of literary devices with this quiz.
    Charlotte Bronte from a chalk drawing by George Richmond, 1850. English novelist author of Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette. Her family was literary. Her sisters Emily and Anne were also writers, both died before the age of 40.
    Cross-gender Pseudonyms
    Writers use pseudonyms for a variety of reasons—sometimes even to disguise their gender. Do you know who was actually...
    Flannery O'Connor.
    Writers’ Retreats
    Where did famous writers spend their time? Test your knowledge of writers’ retreats with this quiz.
    Leo Tolstoy. Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy, portrait. Russian writer, philosopher and mystic.
    Memorable Beginnings Vol. 1: Match the Opening Line to the Work
    Consider yourself a great lover of literature? See if you can match these opening lines to their works.
    An undated photo of Virginia Woolf a British author and member of the intelligentsia circle known as the Bloomsbury Group.
    Memorable Beginnings Vol. 2: Match the Opening Line to the Work
    Consider yourself a great lover of literature? See if you can match these opening lines to their works.
    Book cover (circa 2015?) To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee. Hardcover book first published July 11, 1960. Novel won 1961 Pulitzer Prize. Later made into an Academy Award winning film.
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Maybe this classic novel is your favorite, or maybe you read it once for high school English class. See how much you really...
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    Sign up for daily fun facts about this day in history, updates, and special offers delivered right to your inbox.

    Literature Subcategories

    Aladdin 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.
    Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange 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.
    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.
    subcategory placeholder 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.
    Nicolaus Copernicus: heliocentric system 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.
    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.
    subcategory placeholder Literary Terms
    This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
    epitaph 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.
    Hill, Lawrence: The Book of Negroes 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.
    subcategory placeholder 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.
    Falstaff and Prince Hal in Henry IV, Part 1. 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.
    The Poor Fisherman, oil on canvas by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, 1881; in the Louvre, Paris. 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.
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