Literature

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 10, 2020

The Bizarre Origins of the Words Nerd and Geek
On the nature of nerdiness…or geekiness.
#WTFact / Literature
Student girl writing formulas on transparent wall
What were Sir Walter Scott’s influences?
What were Sir Walter Scott’s influences?
Companion / Literature
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet, Scottish historical novelist and poet, 1870. Portrait of Scott author of Ivanhoe. From "A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen" by Thomas Thomson and Robert Chambers (London, 1870). Scotland
Writing Tips from 7 Acclaimed Authors
A how-to from some of literature's greatest minds.
List / Literature
Open books atop a desk in a library or study. Reading, studying, literature, scholarship.
Why Do We Say “A Pair of Pants”?
Well, there are more than a pair of answers.
Demystified / Literature
jeans, denim, pants, clothing
Novel
Novel, an invented prose narrative of considerable length and a certain complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience,...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Dust jacket designed by Vanessa Bell for the first edition of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, published by the Hogarth Press in 1927.
Japanese literature
Japanese literature, the body of written works produced by Japanese authors in Japanese or, in its earliest beginnings, at...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Nise-e of Minamoto Kintada, one of the 36 poets, from a handscroll by Fujiwara Nobuzane, Kamakura period (1192–1333); in the Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
American literature
American literature, the body of written works produced in the English language in the United States. Like other national...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Smith, John: Virginia
English literature
English literature, the body of written works produced in the English language by inhabitants of the British Isles (including...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Nicolaus Copernicus: heliocentric system

Literature Quizzes

Magazines on display in a store in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. There are more than 1300 English and French magazines that are published in Canada.
Magazines: Fact or Fiction?
Test your knowledge of magazines with this fact-or-fiction quiz about the magazine industry’s history.
American author Toni Morrison, 2009. (Nobel Prize for Literature 1993)
Nobel Laureates in Literature
Are you a Nobel know-it-all? Match the Nobel laureates in literature to the year they earned the award!
Emily Bronte from a painting of a family group by Branwell Bronte. ca 1820-1848
The Brontë Sisters
Think you know Charlotte, Anne, and Emily Brontë, the trio behind some of the greatest Victorian novels? Take this Brontë...
Undated photograph of Russian author Leo Tolstoy.
Russian Literature
Do you think you know about Russian literature? Test your knowledge with this quiz.
Abstract question-mark background on black, punctuation, grammar
Punctuation
How do you use the Oxford comma? What’s the difference between an en dash and an em dash? How do you use ellipses? Test your...
Jane Austen an English writer who first gave the novel it's distinctly modern character through her treatment of ordinary people in everyday life.
Jane Austen
Test your knowledge about Jane Austen and her works with this quiz!
George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron. Lord Byron English poet (1788-1824) was a leading figure in the Romantic movement.
English Romantic Poets
Are you well versed in English Romantic poetry? Do you know about the lives of the poets? Test your knowledge with this quiz.
Nobel Prize Gabriel Garcia Marquez on the Fifty Thousand Colombian Pesos Bill
Latin American Authors
How much do you know about the magical realists, poets, and novelists from Latin America? Test your knowledge with this quiz!
Part of a fresco showing Dante Alighieri and view of Florence by Domenico di Michelino located at the Duomo (Italy).
Literature of Italy Quiz
The peninsula now known as Italy has been a home to great writers for millennia. Take this short quiz to learn how much you...
"The Tyger" from the combined volume of the Songs of Innocence and of Experience by William Blake, ca. 1825; relief etching printed in orange-brown ink and hand-colored with watercolor and gold.(poems, poetry)
Who Wrote That? (Part 1) Quiz
Who wrote Utopia? How about Cry, the Beloved Country? Use this quiz to test how much you...
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Literature Subcategories

Aladdin Folk Literature & Fable
Step into the world of folklore, fables, legends, 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 readers and listeners to this day.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
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subcategory placeholder Literary Terms
This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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.
Articles
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