The word literature comes from the Latin "littera"
meaning an individual written character. Generally it means a body of
literary work including essays, prose, poetry - anything that utilizes
the written word in a particular culture.
days with so much of our time spent being entertained by movies, video
games and the like, less is spent reading and enjoying the literary
works of celebrated writers from the past and present.
This is unfortunate because there is so much we could learn about
life and ourselves if we take time to read more.
When we read, our
imaginations take over and we cannot help but become part of the plot
in a fiction or non-fiction work.
We find ourselves empathizing with
the characters and living through them as they plod on and deal with
the predicaments they find themselves in. We see how they solve their
problems, the mistakes they make and how they could have made better
choices. We learn how the personalities of different characters deal
with situations and intermingle with each other.
Without having to experience the tragedies, difficulties and pain
ourselves, we broaden our understanding of human nature and the human
condition. We live and learn through the experiences of the
To paraphrase Marcel Proust: "Only through literary art can we escape from our selves and know the perspective of another on the
Likewise the timeless works of the great literary masters such as Shakespeare,
Dickens, Voltaire, Hugo, Cervantes, Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy to
name a few, enrich and deepen our understanding by giving us great
insight into human nature and the consequences of human action.
Some famous contemporary writers include: James Joyce, F. Scott
Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, D.H. Lawrence and Vladimir Nabokov.