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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.
Browse Subcategories

Featured content, January 24, 2021

Was there a feud between William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway?
Was there a feud between William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway?
Companion / Literature
Combo image of Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner to be used in high engagement content only
Diagnosing 9 of Charles Dickens’s Most Famous Characters
Dickens had a knack for expertly portraying human diseases.
#WTFact / Literature
Scene from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens, 1843. The irascible, curmudgeonly Ebenezer Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Present, the third of the four apparitions that visit him on Christmjas Eve. From "A Christmas Carol" by...
Why Do Languages Die?
How does someone become the last known speaker of a language?
Demystified / Literature
Portion of the Aleppo Codex, a manuscript of the Hebrew Bible written in the Hebrew language in the 10th century CE; in the Shrine of the Book, Israel Museum, Jerusalem.
10 Devastating Dystopias
Is a perfect society really possible?
List / Literature
Morlocks in "The Time Machine" (1960), directed by George Pal.
Literature
Literature, a body of written works. The name has traditionally been applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose...
Encyclopedia / Literature
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
Portuguese literature
Portuguese literature, the body of writing in the Portuguese language produced by the peoples of Portugal, which includes...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Jo?o de Barros, lithograph by Luiz after a portrait by Legrane.
Children's literature
Children’s literature, the body of written works and accompanying illustrations produced in order to entertain or instruct...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Lewis Carroll: Through the Looking-Glass

Literature Quizzes

American playwright Tennessee Williams, 1955.
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 Reading, oil on canvas by William Page, 1873-74; in the collection of the Smithsonian American Museum of Art, Washington, D.C. (William Shakespeare)
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...
Margaret Fuller, oil on canvas by Thomas Hicks, 1848; in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.
American Women Writers Quiz
Who wrote The Good Earth? How about Song of Solomon? Test what you know about American women writers with...
Page from the Mayan document Popol Vuh. The Newberry's manuscript of the Popol Vuh is one of the most widely known and possibly the earliest surviving copy. It was transcribed between 1700 and 1715 in Chichicastenango, Guatemala, by the Dominican...
Quick Quiz: Latin American Literature
This quiz has only three questions about Latin American literature, but it encompasses many different countries and hundreds...
Chinese author Gao Xingjian, 2008, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2000.
A Nobel Prize for Literature (Mostly) Quiz
Every question in this quiz—except one—is about winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. (The exception is about a novelist...
Illustration of Peter Rabbit with his family by Beatrix Potter. (children's books)
A Quiz About Children’s Authors
Take a trip from the land of Oz to Narnia alongside Max and Peter Rabbit to figure out how much you know about writers of...
French author Emile Zola in his office on rue de Bruxelles, Paris, France; undated.
Exploring French Literature Quiz
The roots of French literature can be traced, arguably, to the Roman occupation of western Europe. This quiz doesn’t go back...
Colette, in full Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, outstanding French writer of the first half of the 20th century.
French Writers Quiz
How much do you know about the men and women who wrote some of the greatest works of French literature? Test yourself with...
American writer Claude McKay; undated photo.
African American Writers Quiz
Who wrote Beloved? How about Home to Harlem? Test your knowledge of African American writers with this...
Novalis (1772-1801), pen-name of Friedrich von Hardenberg, German Romantic poet and novelist. Died of consumption. Known as the Prophet of Romanticism. Friedrich Leopold, Freiherr von (baron of) Hardenberg
Byways of German Literature Quiz
Think you know the major figures of German literature? Goethe, Schiller, Kafka, Sebald? That won’t help you here. Use this...
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Literature Subcategories

subcategory placeholder 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.
Articles
Fantastic Four 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
Edward O. Wilson 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
wine bottle 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.
Articles
To the Lighthouse Literary Terms
This general category includes a selection of more specific topics.
Articles
subcategory placeholder 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
The War of the Worlds 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
Justus of Ghent: Saint Augustine 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
Hamlet 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
subcategory placeholder 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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