noun: literature; plural noun: literatures
Meaning: written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.
Synonyms: written works, writings, writing, creative writing, literary texts, compositions.
Literature, in its broadest sense, consists of any written productions. More restrictively, it refers to those deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, or which deploy language in ways that differ from ordinary usage. Its Latin rootliteratura/litteratura (derived itself from littera: letter or handwriting) was used to refer to all written accounts, though contemporary definitions extend the term to include texts that are spoken or sung (oral literature). Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or non-fiction and whether it is poetry or prose; it can be further distinguished according to major forms such as the novel, short story or drama; and works are often categorized according to historical periods or their adherence to certain aesthetic features or expectations (genre).
There have been various attempts to define “literature” Simon and Delyse Ryan begin their attempt to answer the question “What is Literature?” with the observation:
The quest to discover a definition for “literature” is a road that is much travelled, though the point of arrival, if ever reached, is seldom satisfactory. Most attempted definitions are broad and vague, and they inevitably change over time. In fact, the only thing that is certain about defining literature is that the definition will change. Concepts of what is literature change over time as well.