What is Literature?

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When it comes to defining what literature is, there are many different definitions. "You can define it for example, as imaginative' with the sense of fiction- writing which is not literally true" (Eagleton 1). From this first definition given by the author, my definition of literature is almost the same the only difference being that I do not agree that literature has to be base on fiction. Yes, it is true that literature can be imaginative, but it can also be based on something an author has experienced or want to experience which can be real. By saying that literature has to be based on fiction, the author has eliminated true stories based on actual events as not literature which means most of the written stories such as history, philosophy of the world and natural science does not fall under any literature.

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Perhaps literature is not definable not according to whether it is fictional or imaginative, but because it uses language in peculiar ways (Eagleton 2). I agree that literature involves creativity and imagination. However literature is more than creativity and imagination because if creativity and imagination are the elements of literature then, history and philosophy do not qualify to be called literature and that to me sounds and appears wrong. Therefore, I believe that literature is more than just fiction, creativity and imagination because writing factual and real stories that happened in history, the philosophies that existed can also be called literature. I also agree that literature is all about a unique way of writing. You can differentiate literature from other forms of writings by the language used in a piece.

I also agree that literature moves away from the typical day to day speech and comes in its form as it appears more intense and serious. Eagleton says, "What was specific to literary language, what distinguished it from other forms of discourse, was that it deformed' ordinary language in various ways"(3). Since literature has its elements that guide it, the common language was forced to follow the literature way that made the language change. It is true that by reading or listening to particular literary materials, one can differentiate what is literature from what is not because of the styles used in producing the literature.

According to Eagleton (4), the formalists saw literature as a special kind of language, in contrast to the ordinary' language that we use every day. I agree that literature is language in a unique form compared to the daily language. The reason being that whenever we read things like text messages from our peers there is no much concern about the styles and language or spelling used. By the mere fact that we are not observant and do not care about the styles and structure of what we receive from friends it means that our daily use of language is not literature. Compared to when we read a Shakespeare poem or book then you realize how deep and special the content is. A good example is how different a text from the fifteenth century would compare to a text in the 21st century. There is something poetic about the 15th-century text that cannot be found in the 21st century because of the language used. I, therefore, conclude that literature can be creative, imaginary and factual. The language used in literature may be different, but it does not mean that the unique 15th-century language is what defines literature as long as there is a style followed in constructing the language.

Work Cited

Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory: An Introduction. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983. Print.

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