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.
Featured content, February 02, 2023
Diagnosing 9 of Charles Dickens’s Most Famous Characters
Dickens had a knack for expertly portraying human diseases.
Editor Picks: 6 Great Christmas Stories
Need a little down time this Christmas season? Read these stories with your family or friends!
Romance, literary form, usually characterized by its treatment of chivalry, that came into being in France in the mid-12th...
Irish literature, the body of written works produced by the Irish. This article discusses Irish literature written in English...
Latin American literature
Latin American literature, the national literatures of the Spanish-speaking countries of the Western Hemisphere. Historically,...
Short story, brief fictional prose narrative that is shorter than a novel and that usually deals with only a few characters....
Literary Terms (Part Three) Quiz
Do you know what figure of speech relies on the words like or as to compare two things? If you do, take...
Another Russian Literature Quiz
Who wrote Dead Souls? Which character is the protagonist in Crime and Punishment? Test what you know about...
Chinese Literature Quiz
How much do you know about the history of Chinese literature? Find out with this quiz.
Ancient Greek Literature Quiz
How well do you know Old Comedy? Who wrote Oedipus the King? Figure out what you know about ancient Greek literature...
Poets of America Quiz
Poetry derived from European traditions dates to the early 17th century in the Americas. How much of that history do you...
Literary Terms and More Quiz
This quiz will test your knowledge of literary terms—and a few other stray facts about writers whose work gave rise to literary...
Quick Quiz: American Playwrights
You need to know three American playwrights and their work to ace this very short quiz. How quickly can you bring the curtain...
Shakespeare and His Plays Quiz
“If quizzes be the food of knowledge, play on...” is something Shakespeare didn’t write. But maybe he should have. If you...
American Women Writers Quiz
Who wrote The Good Earth? How about Song of Solomon? Test what you know about American women writers with...
Quick Quiz: Latin American Literature
This quiz has only three questions about Latin American literature, but it encompasses many different countries and hundreds...
Folk Literature & Fable
Step into the world of folklore, fables, legends, tall tales, 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 listeners and readers to this day.
Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson
The Thousand and One Nights
German folklorists and linguists
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.
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.
American journalist and author
Ida B. Wells-Barnett
American journalist and social reformer
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.
Literatures of the World
Literature knows no geographical bounds; authors can be found in nearly all corners of the globe. Find out more about regional literary styles and forms.
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.
Helen Archibald Clarke and Charlotte Endymion Porter
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
British poet and critic
Canadian literary critic
Want to be able to distinguish your limericks from your haikus and your paeans from your panegyrics? Dive deep into literary terms and forms.
The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Or that's the idea, at least. Nonfiction works center on 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.
The Diary of a Young Girl
work by Frank
- nonfictional prose
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.
The Great Gatsby
novel by Fitzgerald
The Book of Negroes
novel by Hill
novel by Stoker
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.
Honoré-Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau
French politician and orator
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.
play by Sophocles
Waiting for Godot
play by Beckett
work by Shakespeare
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; sonnets, haikus, nursery rhymes, epics, and more are included.
literary and artistic movement
epic by Homer