Portal:Literature

Introduction

Literature, most generically, is any body of written works. More restrictively, literature refers to writing considered to be an art form or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage.

Its Latin root literatura/litteratura (derived itself from littera: letter or handwriting) was used to refer to all written accounts. The concept has changed meaning over time to include texts that are spoken or sung (oral literature), and non-written verbal art forms. Developments in print technology have allowed an ever-growing distribution and proliferation of written works, culminating in electronic literature.

Selected work

Malcolm X in 1964
The Autobiography of Malcolm X was published in 1965, the result of a collaboration between human rights activist Malcolm X and journalist Alex Haley. Haley coauthored the autobiography based on a series of in-depth interviews he conducted between 1963 and Malcolm X's 1965 assassination. The Autobiography is a spiritual conversion narrative that outlines Malcolm X's philosophy of black pride, black nationalism, and pan-Africanism. After the death of his subject Haley authored the book's epilogue, which describes their collaboration and summarizes the end of Malcolm X's life.

While Malcolm X and scholars contemporary to the book's publication regarded Haley as the book's ghostwriter, modern scholars tend to regard him as an essential collaborator who intentionally muted his authorial voice to allow readers to feel as though Malcolm X were speaking directly to them. Haley also influenced some of Malcolm X's literary choices; for example, when Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam during the composition of the book, Haley persuaded him to favor a style of "suspense and drama" rather than rewriting earlier chapters into a polemic against the Nation. Furthermore, Haley's proactive censorship of the manuscript's antisemitic material significantly influenced the ideological tone of the Autobiography, increasing its commercial success and popularity although distorting Malcolm X's public persona.

Selected figure

Undated photograph of Marrash
Francis bin Fathallah bin Nasrallah Marrash (June 1836 – 1873) was a Syrian writer and poet of the Nahda movement—the Arabic renaissance—and a physician. Most of his works revolve around science, history and religion, analysed under an epistemological light. He travelled through the Middle East and France in his youth, and after some medical training and a year of practice in his native Aleppo, during which he wrote several works, he enrolled in a medical school in Paris; yet, declining health and growing blindness forced him to return to Aleppo, where he produced more literary works until his early death.

Middle Eastern historian Matti Moosa considered Marrash to be the first truly cosmopolitan Arab intellectual and writer of modern times. Marrash adhered to the principles of the French Revolution and defended them in his own works, implicitly criticising Ottoman rule in the Middle East. He was also influential in introducing French romanticism in the Arab world, especially through his use of poetic prose and prose poetry, of which his writings were the first examples in modern Arabic literature, according to Salma Khadra Jayyusi and Shmuel Moreh. His modes of thinking and feeling, and ways of expressing them, have had a lasting influence on contemporary Arab thought and on the Mahjari poets.

Selected excerpt

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Selected illustration

H. R. Millar - Rudyard Kipling - Puck of Pook's Hill 7.jpg
Credit: Harold Robert Millar

Puck of Pook's Hill is a fantasy book by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1906, containing a series of short stories set in different periods of English history. The stories are all narrated to two children living near Burwash by people magically plucked out of history by the elf Puck, or told by Puck himself. This illustration accompanied the chapter "The Knights of the Joyous Venture".

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Today in literature

10 December

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