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Literature is any body of written work. Traditionally, the term was used to indicate all written accounts, however, nowadays the term refers to both spoken and oral text.
Literature can be classified into different areas depending if it is fiction or nonfiction, or if it is poetry or prose. Additionally, it can be further classified according to its major forms: poetry, prose, and drama. Furthermore, works are usually classified according to their historical period or genre.
Firstly, poetry is a literary art which uses aesthetic and rhythmic language features to generate meanings. Poetry has been distinguished from prose because of its structure in verse. This form of literature is the earliest example of literature as it is the form of the first literary works transmitted orally.
Secondly, the prose is a form of literature that has an ordinary syntax and natural speech. This form of literature is related to three major genres: the novel, novella and short story. The first is a long fictional prose narrative which emerged in England in the late 15th century as to indicate the “news”. Over the years, this genre has become dominant amongst the other literary forms. Novella, instead, is a type of prose that is in-between the novel and the short story as it is too short to be a novel and too long to be a short story. However, there is not a precise definition of novella related to its word or page count. Finally, the short story is a genre that differs from novels and novellas because of its length and structure.
Reconsidering the major literature types, the drama differs from poetry and prose as it is often combined with music and dance. There are different subsets of this form: plays, written dramatic works intended to be performed in a theatre and consisting of dialogues between characters; closet dramas which contrary to plays are written to be read rather than performed; Greek dramas, exemplification of the earliest form of dramas of which people have substantial knowledge; and the tragedies, a dramatic type of drama related to religion and historical events.
The works that evaluate and interpret the literary works are the literary studies or literary criticism. These are written works usually published as essays or books and which are influenced by the literary theory, a philosophical discussion of the literary achievements and methods.
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