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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.
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Featured content, April 12, 2021

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.
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...
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
5 Creepy Things from The Thousand and One Nights
Shahrazad or Stephen King?
List / Literature
Aladdin and the Efrite, jinn, genie.
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.
African American literature
African American literature, body of literature written by Americans of African descent. Beginning in the pre-Revolutionary...
Encyclopedia / Literature
title page of Olaudah Equiano's autobiography
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
Yiddish literature
Yiddish literature, the body of written works produced in the Yiddish language of Ashkenazic Jewry (central and eastern European...
Encyclopedia / Literature
Yiddish theatre poster

Literature Quizzes

Row of colorful books on a bookshelf. Stack of books, pile of books, literature, reading. Homepage 2010, arts and entertainment, history and society
The Literary World
Hey, bookworm! In between reads, try this novel idea: a quiz on all things literature.
Chalkboard slate and colored chalk
Word Nerd: Fact or Fiction?
You love words. You adore alliteration. And you chortle at the thought of nailing this quiz.
Stack of books, pile of books, literature, reading. Hompepage blog 2009, arts and entertainment, history and society.
Literary Favorites: Fact or Fiction?
Love literature? This quiz sorts out the truth about beloved authors and stories, old and new.
5:149 Eyes and Ears: Eyes That Hear, Speech That's Seen, eight close-ups of mouths saying a different word
Parlez-Vous Fran?ais? And Other Languages
What language is spoken in Mexico? Which South American nation speaks Portuguese? Test your knowledge of languages around...
13:072 Reading: How Words Work, chart showing the word cat in English, French, and Spanish, in print and cursive
Foreign Language Club
What is the official language of China? What is the prinicipal language of Bangladesh? Test your comprehension of languages...
French and English Stop and no Parking Signs
Official Languages: Fact or Fiction?
Is Spanish the official language of Andorra? Is Portugese the official language of Brazil? Sort fact from fiction, and test...
William Shakespeare, title page from the First Folio edition, 1623, of Shakespeare's comedies, histories, & tragedies.
William Shakespeare: The Prose and the Playwright
Where is Shakespeare buried? Who says "Alas, poor Yorick"? See if your answers are "to be" or "not to be" in this quiz about...
Portrait of Plato (ca. 428- ca. 348 BC), Ancient Greek philosopher.
An Odyssey of Grecian Literature
Who was Odysseus’s wife? What author wrote The Republic? From famous philosophers to epic journeys, embark upon...
portrait of English playwright, William Shakespeare
A Study of William Shakespeare
How many sonnets did William Shakespeare publish? Where is Romeo and Juliet set? From couplets and quatrains to...
Hathaway, Anne. Shakespeare, William. Anne Hathaway's Cottage, a farmhouse, where Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare, lived as a child in the village of Shottery, Warwickshire, England, near Stratford-upon-Avon.
The Life and Work of William Shakespeare
Who was Hamlet’s mother? How many sonnets did Shakespeare write? Broaden your literary horizons in this quiz spanning the...
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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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