Thursday, April 3, 2008

BTT: LIT-RA-CHUR!

btt button

  • When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
Answer: To me literature is much more than the very famous, sometimes hard to read classics. Tolstoy, Dickens and Shakespeare are definitely literature, but I would refer to them as classic literature not just lit in general. Lit-ra-chur to me is the written word, it is as much from European kings and queens as it is of the slaves and peasants. I believe literature are those that move you, change you. Lit is not for the wealthy to call their own, or books written about the wealthy (as in many of the classics), to me it is worldwide and classwide and encompasses much more.

Here is wikipedia's answer:

The word "literature" has different meanings depending on who is using it and in what context. It could be applied broadly to mean any symbolic record, encompassing everything from images and sculptures to letters. In a more narrow sense the term could mean only text composed of letters, or other examples of symbolic written language (Egyptian hieroglyphs, for example). An even more narrow interpretation is that text have a physical form, such as on paper or some other portable form, to the exclusion of inscriptions or digital media. The Muslim scholar and philosopher Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (702-765 AD) defined Literature as follows: "Literature is the garment which one puts on what he says or writes so that it may appear more attractive."[2] Panghilito Luigi added that literature is a slice of life that has been given direction and meaning, an artistic interpretation of the world according to the percipient's point of views. Frequently, the texts that make up literature crossed over these boundaries. Illustrated stories, hypertexts, cave paintings and inscribed monuments have all at one time or another pushed the boundaries of "literature."
I agree with this definition, it encompasses much more than we seem to give it credit for, this is my favourite quote that I found when looking into this topic, it is by philosopher Imam Ja'far al-Sadiq (702-765 AD) who defined Literature as follows: "Literature is the garment which one puts on what he says or writes so that it may appear more attractive."

This is my main ramble:

It could even be said that the title"literature" is actually taken from worthy subjects to elevate others to a more valued and reverenced place. Literature is the voice of the people, weather told in the oral tradition of passing down through generations, or in the written form and so on. I believe westerners, and those brought up in a western education system need to be careful to not exclude all things unknown, or those not originating from high-class Europe or the US, that is to be an elitist...and that is no good. There is so much amazing literature worldwide! That is what I have to say about that. (sorry, I think this struck a deep place in my heart...)


  • Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?


So, since my definition is very broad for literature...I do read literature all the time. I read it every day, and I love reading it, I love submitting myself to the author and entering new places, and far-away lands.

11 comments:

Breeni Books said...

I love the idea that it is to elevate others. That sounds perfect, to me!

Happy BTT!

Mrs. B. said...

I absolutely agree with you!
I think the main requirements for "literature" in my mind is that it is well-written (which can be subjective), it transcends time, and it touches me.
I, too, looked up the wikipedia definition of literature.
I've been surprised at reading all of the other BTT posts and the unsavory thoughts toward "literature."
Love reading your blog!

Lesley said...

Hi Bethany! I think literature is a very inclusive, broad term. Much more than the classics.
PS: Thanks for visiting my blog on other BTTs. I've been away from my computer and unable to come calling!

BooksPlease said...

Thanks for your comment on my post. I'm not sure that I would include paintings and sculpture in my definition of "literature" but I like the definition that "literature is a slice of life that has been given direction and meaning, an artistic interpretation of the world according to the percipient's point of views" and also that it is "the voice of the people". I don't like the elitist view that it has to be considered "worthy" etc

Gentle Reader said...

Love your definition of literature. I absolutely agree! It's much broader than the classics, and I like Wikipedia's inclusion of other media as well :)

bethany said...

*breeni books-
yes, me too. I really like the image that brings.

* mrs. b- oh, I completely agree! Yes, BTT posts seem to have a completely different view than I do...it was very surprising to me, I guess i just assumed everyone thought like I did.
Thank you, that is a very sweet comment, mrs. b!

*lesly-
yes, so broad. I agree.
Oh, no problem...i like visiting you.

*booksplease- Yeah, I had never heard of it...but the more I think about including other art forms I agree with the concept. What do people say " a picture is worth a thousand words" right?
Oh, yes the elitist concept of classics view of lit is silly...well pretty gross actually.

*gentle reader- thanks. yes, I was excited to see what wiki said. the more I think about it, the more I like it.

trish said...

I agree with you. My only reservation is that romance novels and chick lit don't constitute literature, but that could be me just being snobby. However, Kingsolver and Wally Lamb are two authors who come to mind when I think of current literature.

bethany said...

*trish- yes, I know...I agree with you on that one, but I as well don't know if it is right or not to desire to exclude chick lit...oh, and romance novels...hadn't even thought of those!! I am unsure.

Jennifer said...

I think you're right that literature can be a very broad term. I'll have to keep that in mind when I automatically go to the 'hard, boring and depressing' stereotype! That quote in the wikipedia definition is brilliant. :)

trish said...

I know I already commented, but I came back and read your post again and caught something I didn't catch before. You say, "I believe westerners, and those brought up in a western education system need to be careful to not exclude all things unknown, or those not originating from high-class Europe or the US, that is to be an elitist...and that is no good. There is so much amazing literature worldwide!" I understand what you're trying to say, but I don't think that westerners only include *white Eureopeans* (when talking about literature) intentionally. I think when you ask someone in America what literature is, they will think of what they've studied (and it was probably written in English originally). Like I said, I totally get what you're saying, but I think it's better to classify it like this: readers who don't include world lit as opposed to westerners who don't include world lit. :-)

Aaron said...

Yes, I agree that literature is very broad in its definition but the word itself conjures up different notions to different people (which I think was the purpose of the question. I agree that literature is more than the classics but that is what I think of when I first hear the word. I enjoy all forms of literature and feel like I'm always expanding the various genres of literature (one reason for joining your book challenge).
It's very difficult to break the habit of think of only the classics when I heard the word literature. There is a place for all forms of literature and I think I need to eliminate some of the qualifiers I use for the various types of literature.
I also like the quote you drew out from Wiki quote. It's something I'll keep and reflect on at a future date. It'll be great for a btt discussion.