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A Review on Literature and A Glimpse of World Literature

Definitions of Literature

● Literature is an oral or written work that has various characteristic features such as

originality, artistry, beauty in content and expression. (Sudjiman)

● Literature is a work of fiction that is the result of creation by a spontaneous surge of

emotion that is capable of expressing the aesthetic aspects of both the aspects of language

as well as aspects of meaning. (Mukarovsky, E.E. Cummings, and Sjklovski)

● Literature is a copyrighted work or a fiction that is both imaginative "or" literary use of

language is beautiful and useful indicating other things. (Taum)

● Literature is a description of human experience that has dimensions of personal and

social as well as well as the knowledge of humanity that is parallel to the form of life

itself. (Lefevere)

● Literature, a body of written works. The name has traditionally been applied to those

imaginative works of poetry and prose distinguished by the intentions of their authors and

the perceived aesthetic excellence of their execution. (Britannica)

A Review on Literature and A Glimpse of World Literature

Subdivisions of Literature

A. Prose is a division of literature which covers a literary work that is spoken or written within

the common flow of language in sentences and in paragraphs which gives information, relate

events, express ideas, or present opinions. Under this division, we have two sub-divisions: the

Fiction and Non-Fiction.

1. Fiction is a sub-division of prose which covers a literary work of imaginative narration,

either oral or written, fashioned to entertain and to make readers think and more so, to

feel. It normally came from the writer’s imagination. Some Literary Genres that fall

under fiction include:

a. Legend is a prose fiction which attempts to explain the origin of things,

places, objects that we see around us. Example: The Legend of

Makahiya, Why the Sea is Salty.

b. Short story is a short prose fiction narrative depicting a simple

characterization and plot conveying a moral which can be read in one

sitting. Example: The Diamond Necklace by Guy de Maupassant,

Footnote to Youth by Jose Garcia-Villa.

c. Novel is a very long prose narrative depicting complex characterization

and plot which is usually divided into chapters. Example: Les

Miserables by Victor Hugo, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

d. Novella is a long prose narrative similar to but shorter than a novel but

longer than a short story. It is also known as novelette. Example:

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Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Call of the Wild by

Jack London.

e. Fable is a short prose fiction narrative depicting animal characters

which espouses a lesson in life. Example: The Lion and the Mouse, The

Monkey and the Turtle.

f. Parable is a short prose allegorical narrative which presents a

philosophical outlook in life. Example: The Parable of the Sower, The

Prodigal Son.

2. Non-Fiction is a sub-division of prose which covers a literary work of “real life”

narration or exposition based on history and facts whose main thrust is intellectual

appeal to convey facts, theories, generalizations, or concepts about a particular topic.

Some literary genres that fall under non-fiction include:

a. Biography is a prose non-fiction detailing the life of a person written by

another person. Example: The Great Malayan about the Life of Jose

Rizal written by Carlos Quirino. Sometimes, a biography may be written

by the same person, hence, it is called autobiography. Example:

Memoirs written by Juan Ponce Enrile was a lengthy narrative about his

own life.

b. History is a prose non-fiction record of events that transpired in the

past. Example: The History of Filipino People written by Gregorio

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c. News is a prose non-fiction narrative of events that happen everyday.

The newspapers are written for this purpose. Example: Philippine Daily


d. Diary is a personal account of significant events that happen in the life

of a person.

e. Anecdote is a prose non-fiction narrative that depicts a single incident

in a person’s life. Example: The Moth and the Lamp.

f. Essay is prose non-fiction which is a formal treatment of an issue

written from the writer’s personal point of view. Example: On the

Indolence of the Filipinos written by Jose Rizal.

B. Poetry is a division of literature works which covers a literary work expressed in verse,

measure, rhythm, sound, and imaginative language and creates an emotional response to an

experience, feeling or fact. Traditionally, it has three sub-divisions namely: Narrative poetry,

Lyric poetry, and Dramatic poetry.

1. Narrative Poetry is a sub-division of poetry which tells or narrates a story. It may

be lengthy as an epic, or short as a ballad and typically measured as a metrical tale.

a. Epic is a narrative poem which accounts the heroic exploits of a

community’s hero, usually involving superhuman abilities. Example:

Hudhod hi Aliguyon is an Ifugao epic.

b. Ballad is a narrative poem which depicts a single incident that

transpired in a person’s life. It is usually recited during gatherings in the

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past but it may be sung in the present days. Example: Forevermore by

Side A Band.

c. Metrical Tale is a narrative poem which narrates a story in a “metered”

or “measured” number of syllables hence it was called metrical. There

are two popular variations in Philippine Literature, the Awit and


i. Awit is a romance metrical tale of dodecasyllabic measure

which is recited during formal performances or informal

gatherings. Example: Florante at Laura by Francisco

“Balagtas” Baltazar.

ii. Corrido is a martial or adventure metrical tale of

octosyllabic measure which is recited for recreational

purposes. Example: Ibong Adarna by Jose Corazon dela


2. Lyric Poetry is a sub-division of poetry which features poems intended to be sung

with the accompaniment of the musical instrument called “lyre” hence, lyric poetry.

The following are the types of lyric poems.

a. Song is a lyric poem of various theme which is meant to be sung in its

entirety. Example: Bayan Ko written by Jose De Jesus, arranged by

Constancio De Guzman, and sung by Freddie Aguilar.

b. Ode is a lyric poem of noble and exalted emotion which has dignified

countenance. Example: Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

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c. Elegy is a lyric poem of sad theme such lamentation for the dead,

longing for a missing love, and a grief for things beyond one’s control.

Example: Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard by Thomas Gray.

d. Sonnet is a lyric poem of 14 iambic pentameter lines usually about love

and beautiful themes. Example: Sonnet to Laura by Francesco Petrarch.

e. Idyll is a lyric poem celebrating the tranquil and beautiful landscapes of

rural and country settings. Example: Beside the Pasig River by Jose


3. Dramatic Poetry is a sub-division of poetry which features poems meant to be

performed on stage. Theater plays and dramatic presentations belong to this type.

a. Tragedy is a dramatic poetry which features a hero whose hubris or

shortcoming eventually causes his downfall or defeat often ending in a

very sad conclusion. Example: Hamlet by William Shakespeare and

The Three Rats by Wilfrido Ma. Guerero.

b. Comedy is a dramatic poetry which is similar with tragedy except that

the hero triumphs and overcomes the odds towards the end and emerges

victoriously. Example: The Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare.

c. Melodrama is a dramatic poetry which is a combination of the elements

of tragedy and comedy yet ends in a happy note. Example: A

Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

d. Farce is a dramatic poetry which is an exaggerated comedy that aims to

elicit laughter hence, relaxation. Examples: Importance of Being

Earnest by Oscar Wilde.

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e. Social Play is a dramatic poetry which tackles social issues and

problems such as poverty, corruption, discrimination, racism, sexism,

among others, with an aim to bring awareness and bring about positive

change. Example: Zsazsa Zaturnah by Carlo Vergara.

A Review on Literature and A Glimpse of World Literature

Genres of Literature

1. Literary fiction novels are considered works with artistic value and literary merit. They

often include political criticism, social commentary, and reflections on humanity.

Literary fiction novels are typically character-driven, as opposed to being plot-driven,

and follow a character’s inner story. (e.g., This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald )

2. Mystery novels, also called detective fiction, follow a detective solving a case from start

to finish. They drop clues and slowly reveal information, turning the reader into a

detective trying to solve the case, too. Mystery novels start with an exciting hook, keep

readers interested with suspenseful pacing, and end with a satisfying conclusion that

answers all of the reader’s outstanding questions. (e.g., The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell


3. Thriller novels are dark, mysterious, and suspenseful plot-driven stories. They very

seldom include comedic elements, but what they lack in humor, they make up for in

suspense. Thrillers keep readers on their toes and use plot twists, red herrings, and

cliffhangers to keep them guessing until the end. (e.g, The Spy Who Came In from the

Cold by John le Carré)

4. Horror novels are meant to scare, startle, shock, and even repulse readers. Generally

focusing on themes of death, demons, evil spirits, and the afterlife, they prey on fears
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with scary beings like ghosts, vampires, werewolves, witches, and monsters. In horror

fiction, plot and characters are tools used to elicit a terrifying sense of dread.

(e.g., Frankenstein by Mary Shelley)

5. Historical fiction novels take place in the past. Written with a careful balance of research

and creativity, they transport readers to another time and place—which can be real,

imagined, or a combination of both. Many historical novels tell stories that involve actual

historical figures or historical events within historical settings. (e.g., The Adventures of

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain)

6. Romantic fiction centers around love stories between two people. They’re lighthearted,

optimistic, and have an emotionally satisfying ending. Romance novels do contain

conflict, but it doesn’t overshadow the romantic relationship, which always prevails in

the end. (e.g, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)

7. Western novels tell the stories of cowboys, settlers, and outlaws exploring the western

frontier and taming the American Old West. They’re shaped specifically by their genre-

specific elements and rely on them in ways that novels in other fiction genres don’t.

Westerns aren’t as popular as they once were; the golden age of the genre coincided with

the popularity of western films in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. (e.g, The Log of a Cowboy

by Andy Adams)

8. Bildungsroman is a literary genre of stories about a character growing psychologically

and morally from their youth into adulthood. Generally, they experience a profound
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emotional loss, set out on a journey, encounter conflict, and grow into a mature person by

the end of the story. Literally translated, a bildungsroman is “a novel of education” or “a

novel of formation.” (e.g, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)

9. Speculative fiction is a supergenre that encompasses a number of different types of

fiction, from science fiction to fantasy to dystopian. The stories take place in a world

different from our own. Speculative fiction knows no boundaries; there are no limits to

what exists beyond the real world. (e.g., The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien)

10. Sci-fi novels are speculative stories with imagined elements that don’t exist in the real

world. Some are inspired by “hard” natural sciences like physics, chemistry, and

astronomy; others are inspired by “soft” social sciences like psychology, anthropology,

and sociology. Common elements of sci-fi novels include time travel, space exploration,

and futuristic societies. (e.g, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells)

11. Fantasy novels are speculative fiction stories with imaginary characters set in imaginary

universes. They’re inspired by mythology and folklore and often include elements of

magic. The genre attracts both children and adults. (e.g., Alice in Wonderland by Lewis


12. Dystopian novels are a genre of science fiction. They’re set in societies viewed as worse

than the one in which we live. Dystopian fiction exists in contrast to utopian fiction,

which is set in societies viewed as better than the one in which we live. (e.g., The Time

Machine by H.G. Wells)

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13. Magical realism novels depict the world truthfully, plus add magical elements. The

fantastical elements aren’t viewed as odd or unique; they’re considered normal in the

world in which the story takes place. The genre was born out of the realist art movement

and is closely associated with Latin American authors. (e.g., Midnight’s Children by

Salman Rushdie)

14. Realist fiction novels are set in a time and place that could actually happen in the real

world. They depict real people, places, and stories in order to be as truthful as possible.

Realist works of fiction remain true to everyday life and abide by the laws of nature as

we currently understand them. (e.g., Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher)

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Literary Approaches

Traditional Critical Approaches

1. Historical-Biographical. This approach sees a literary work as a reflection of the

author’s life and times or the life and times of the characters in the work. Critics using

this school of thought investigate how plot details, settings, and characters of the work

reflect or are representative of events, settings, and people in the author’s life or a direct

outgrowth of — or reaction to– the culture in which the author lived.

2. Moral-Philosophical. This approach takes the position that the larger function of

literature is to teach morality and probe philosophical issues, such as ethics, religion, or

the nature of humanity. Literature is interpreted within the context of the philosophical

thought of a period or group, such as Christianity, Existentialism, Buddhism, etc. Often

critics will see in the work allusions to other works, people, or events from this

perspective, or see the work as allegorical.

3. Formalistic Criticism. Using this type of criticism, a reader would see the work as an

independent and self-sufficient artistic object. This approach is also sometimes referred to

as the “New Criticism,” since it came back in vogue in the 1960s-70s, but it was

originally an outgrowth of the “Art for Art’s Sake” movement of the late 1800s.

Formalistic critics assume that everything necessary for analyzing the work is present in

the work itself and disregard any connection to possible outside influences such as the

author’s own life or historical times. This criticism considers what a work says and how it
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says it as inseparable issues. It focuses on close reading, with sensitivity to the words and

their various meanings. It searches for structures, patterns, imagery and motifs, and

figurative language along with the juxtaposition of scenes, tone, and other literary

techniques in order to come to conclusions about the meaning of the work.

Newer Approaches

1. Psychological Criticism. This approach deals with a work of literature primarily as it is

an expression – in fictional form – of the author’s personality, mindset, feelings and

desires. It also requires that we investigate the psychology of the characters and their

motives in order to figure out the work’s meanings. This school of criticism got its start

with the work of Sigmund Freud, which incorporated the importance of the unconscious

or sub-conscious in human behavior. Some typical “archetypal” Freudian interpretations

include: rebellion against a father, id versus superego, death-wish forces, or sexual

repression. Dreams, visualizations, and fantasies of characters in modern works usually

stem from Freudian concepts.

2. Feminist / Gender Criticism. This approach asks us to use a wide variety of issues

related to gender, concerning the author, the work itself, the reader, and the societies of

the author and reader, to determine the stance of the work on the feminist continuum.

These critics would argue that in order to achieve validity, a literary criticism that claims

universality must include the feminine consciousness, since till very recently and in many

instances yet today, works of literature and criticism have been male-dominated and

therefore necessarily skewed in their perspective. Feminist critics look for the
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development of male and female characters and their motives to see how the author and

his or her times affected the gender roles in the work.

3. Sociological / Marxist Criticism. This viewpoint considers particular aspects of the

political content of the text; the author; the historical and socio-cultural context of the

work; and the cultural, political, and personal situation of the reader in relationship to the

text. These critics tend to focus on the overall themes of the work as they relate to

economic class, race, sex, and instances of oppression and/or liberation. Author, critic

and reader bias is explored.

A Review on Literature and A Glimpse of World Literature

Definition of World Literature

World literature is used to refer to the total of the world's national literature and the

circulation of works into the wider world beyond their country of origin. In the past, it primarily

referred to the masterpieces of Western European literature; however, world literature today is

increasingly seen in an international context. Now, readers have access to a wide range of global

works in various translations.

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Definition of Global Currents

Global Currents talks about what is occurring in or existing at the present time in the world.

Below is a latest update from CNN about Coronavirus:

On September 1, it was reported that a karaoke bar in Canada could face fines after at

least 30 coronavirus cases were linked to it. The bar has announced they will close for a week

and urge patrons to get tested. On September 4, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

was admitted to the hospital after testing positive for coronavirus. His speakers have stated there

is no cause for concern regarding his admittance, as the 84-year-old has mild symptoms. On

September 4, Russia released its first vaccine report, stating that the vaccine triggered an immune

response in patients with little side effects. Experts elsewhere have stated that trial sizes are too

small to prove effectiveness. On September 5, dozens of people were arrested in Melbourne,

Australia as people continued to participate in anti-lockdown protests. Protests took place in

various other Australian cities. (CNN)

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United Nations Focus Issues (Global Perspective)

As the world’s only truly universal global organization, the United Nations has become the

foremost forum to address issues that transcend national boundaries and cannot be resolved by

any one country acting alone

● Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time. From shifting weather

patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of

catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and

unprecedented in scale.

● About 795 million people in the world were undernourished in 2014–16. That means one

in nine people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. Hunger and

malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to health worldwide — greater than AIDS,

malaria and tuberculosis combined.

● The United Nations, since its inception, has been actively involved in promoting and

protecting good health worldwide. Leading that effort within the UN system is the

World Health Organization (WHO), whose constitution came into force on 7 April 1948.

● As youth are increasingly demanding more just, equitable and progressive opportunities

and solutions in their societies, the need to address the multifaceted challenges faced by

young people (such as access to education, health, employment and gender equality) have

become more pressing than ever.

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● Fresh water sustains human life and is vital for human health. There is enough fresh

water for everyone on Earth. However, due to bad economics or poor infrastructure,

millions of people (most of them children) die from diseases associated with inadequate

water supply, sanitation and hygiene.

● Promoting respect for human rights is a core purpose of the United Nations and defines

its identity as an organization for people around the world. Member States have mandated

the Secretary-General and the UN System to help them achieve the standards set out in

the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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History of World Literature

Invention of Writing and Earliest Literature [Beginnings to 100 A.D.]

1. Writing was not invented for the purpose of preserving literature; the earliest written

documents contain commercial, administrative, political, and legal information, and were

created by the first "advanced" civilizations in an area that Westerners commonly call the

Middle East.

2. The oldest writing was pictographic, meaning that the sign for an object was written to

resemble the object itself; later, hieroglyphic and cuneiform scripts were invented to

record more complicated information.

3. Begun in 2700 B.C. and written down about 2000 B.C., the first great heroic narrative of

world literature, Gilgamesh, nearly vanished from memory when it was not translated

from cuneiform languages into the new alphabets that replaced them.

4. Though the absence of written signs for vowels can confuse some readers, the

consonantal script developed by the Hebrews ushered in a new form of writing that could

be composed without special artistic skills and read without advanced training.

5. With their return to Palestine in 539 B.C., the Hebrews rebuilt the Temple and created the

canonical version of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible.

6. As the stories in the Bible expound, unlike polytheistic religions in which gods often

battle among themselves for control over humankind, the sole resistance to the Hebrew

God is humankind itself.

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Ancient Greece [Beginnings to 100 A.D.]

1. Though the origin of the Hellenes, or ancient Greeks, is unknown, their language clearly

belongs to the Indo-European family.

2. By serving as a basis for education, the Iliad and Odyssey played a role in the

development of Greek civilization that is equivalent to the role that the Torah had played

in Palestine.

3. The Greeks who established colonies in Asia adapted their language to the Phoenician

writing system, adding signs for vowels to change it from a consonantal to an alphabetic


4. Before its defeat to Sparta, Athens developed democratic institutions to maintain the

delicate balance between the freedom of the individual and the demands of the state.

5. Unlike the Sophists, Socrates proposed a method of teaching that was dialectic rather

than didactic; his means of approaching "truth" through questions and answers

revolutionized Greek philosophy.

6. The basis for Homer's Iliad and Odyssey was an immense poetic reserve created by

generations of singers who lived before him.

7. Neither the Iliad nor the Odyssey offers easy answers; questions about the nature of

aggression and violence are left unanswered, and questions about human suffering and

the waste generated by war are left unresolved.

8. Greek comedy and tragedy developed out of choral performances in celebration of

Dionysus, the god of wine and mystic ecstasy.

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Poetry and Thought in China [Beginnings to 100 A.D.]

1. Chinese civilization first developed in the Yellow River basin.

2. The Classic of Poetry is a lyric poetry collection that stands at the beginning of the

Chinese literary tradition.

3. The fusion of ethical thought and idealized Chou traditions associated with Confucius

were recorded in the Analects by Confucius's disciples following his death.

4. The Chuang Tzu offers philosophical meditations in a multitude of forms, ranging from

jokes and parables to intricate philosophical arguments.

5. During the period of the Warring States, Ssu-ma Ch'ien produced the popular Historical

Records chronicling the lives of ruling families and dynasties in a comprehensive history

of China up to the time of Emperor Wu's reign.

6. The end of ancient China is often linked with the rise of the draconian ruler Ch'in Shih-

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India’s Heroic Age [Beginnings to 100 A.D.]

1. The ethnic, religious, and linguistic diversity of India's billion people has given rise to a

diverse written and oral literary tradition that evolved over 3,500 years.

2. The Vedas are the primary scriptures of Hinduism and consist of four books of sacred

hymns that are typically chanted by priests at ceremonies marking rites of passage.

3. The Upanisads argue that the soul is a manifestation of a single divine essence; release

comes from understanding the basic unity between the self and the universe.

4. Two epics that express the core values of Hinduism are the Ramayana and the


5. Dharma is the guiding principle of human conduct and preserves the social, moral, and

cosmic integrity of the universe. It refers to sacred duties and righteous conduct, and is

related to three other spheres that collectively govern an ideal life: artha (wealth, profit,

and political power); kama (love, sensuality); moksa (release, liberation).

6. The belief that all beings are responsible for their own actions and their own suffering is

known as karma.

7. Because Buddhism was a more egalitarian and populist religion, it initially gained a

following among women, artisans, merchants, and individuals to whom the ritualistic and

hierarchical nature of Hinduism seemed constraining.

8. Because Hinduism and its important texts such as the Bhagavad-Gita were able to

synthesize tenets and ideas from the other religions, it was able to triumph in India.

9. The idea that moral and spiritual conquest is superior to conquest by the sword is an

enduring motif of the time and one that was publicly endorsed by Emperor Asoka.
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The Roman Empire [Beginnings to 100 A.D.]

1. With its military victories in North Africa, Spain, Greece, and Asia Minor, the social,

cultural, and economic life of Rome changed profoundly.

2. After the fall of the Roman empire, the concept of a world-state was appropriated by the

medieval Church, which ruled from the same center, Rome, and laid claim to a spiritual

authority as great as the secular authority it succeeded.

3. Literature in Latin began with a translation of the Greek Odyssey and continued to be

modeled after Greek sources until it became Christian.

4. The lyric poems that Catullus wrote about his love affair with the married woman he

called Lesbia range in tone from passionate to despairing to almost obscene.

5. Left unfinished at the time of his death, Virgil's Aeneid combines the themes of the

Homeric epics: the wanderer in search of a home from the Iliad, and the hero at war from

the Odyssey.

6. Ovid's extraordinary subtlety and psychological depth make his poetry second only to

Virgil's for its influence on Western poets and writers of the Middle Ages, the

Renaissance, and beyond.

7. Probably written by Petronius, and probably written during the principate of Nero, the

Satyricon is a satirical work about the pragmatism and materialism of the Roman empire

that would soon be supplanted by Christianity.

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Roman Empire -> Christian Europe [100 A.D. to 1500]

1. The life of the Hebrew prophet Jesus ended in the agony of the crucifixion by a Roman

governor, but his teachings were written down in the Greek language and became the

sacred texts of the Christian church.

2. The teachings of Jesus were revolutionary in terms of Greek and Roman feeling, as well

as the Hebrew religious tradition.

3. Until Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, declaring tolerance for all religions, in 313,

the Christian church was often persecuted by imperial authorities, particularly under the

rule of emperors Nero, Marcus Aurelius, and Diocletian.

4. The four Gospels were collected with other documents to form the New Testament,

which Pope Damasus had translated from Greek to Latin by the scholar Jerome in 393–


5. In his Confessions, Augustine sets down the story of his early life for the benefit of

others, combining the intellectual tradition of the ancient world and the religious feeling

that would come to be characteristic of the Middle Ages.

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India’s Classical Age [100 A.D. to 1500]

1. During the rule of the Guptas in ancient India, great achievements were made in

mathematics, logic, astronomy, literature, and the fine arts.

2. Classical Sanskrit literature deals extensively with courtly culture and life. Aiming to

evoke aesthetic responses, many of the works admitted into the literary canon were poetic

works written and performed by learned poets (kavi) who were under the patronage of

kings. A highly stylized form of poetry, kavya literature consists of four main genres—

the court epic, short lyric, narrative, and drama.

3. In contrast to the elegant and formal works of the kavya genre are two important

collections of tales that have influenced tales around the world—the Pañcatantra and the


4. Women in classical literature are rarely portrayed as one-dimensional characters who are

victims of circumstance.

5. The kavya tradition is concerned with the universe and ideals. Heroes and heroines are

rarely individuals; rather, they represent "universal" types.

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China’s Middle Period [100 A.D. to 1500]

1. The "middle period" of Chinese literature occupies a central place in that nation's cultural

history; to many it is the era during which Chinese thought and letters achieved its

highest form.

2. During China's "middle period," Confucianism declined in importance; Taoism and

Buddhism in fact began to acquire a more important status. With an emphasis on personal

salvation, they offered an alternative to the Confucian ideals of social and ethical

collective interests.

3. Because of the way that it was integrated into life during this period, the T'ang Dynasty is

often considered a period when poetry flourished.

4. Thanks to the development of printing, the vernacular traditions emphasizing storytelling

have coexisted and evolved along with classical literature up to present times.
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Islam [100 A.D. to 1500]

1. God's revelations were first received around 610 by the prophet Muhammad, whose

followers later collected them into the Koran, which became the basis for a new religion

and community known today as Islam.

2. Though most of the pre-Islamic literature of Arabia was written in verse, prose became a

popular vehicle for the dissemination of religious learning.

3. As its title "the Recitation" suggests, the Koran was made to be heard and recited;

because it is literally the word of God, Muslims do not accept the Koran in translation

from Arabic.

4. Although Persian literature borrowed from Arabic literary styles, it also created and

enhanced new poetic styles, including the ruba'i (quatrain), ghazal (erotic lyric), and

masnavi (narrative poem).

5. More widely known than any other work in Arabic, the Thousand and One Nights is

generally excluded from the canon of classical Arabic literature due to its extravagant and

improbable fabrications in prose, a form that was expected to be more serious and

substantial than verse.

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Formation of Western Literature [100 A.D. to 1500]

1. Contrary to popular belief, the medieval period cannot be characterized as entirely

barbaric. During this period, national literatures in the vernacular appeared.

2. Due to their disparate influences, literature and culture in medieval Europe were very

diverse, drawing from different, often conflicting sources.

3. Composed around 850, the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf speaks about the warring

lifestyle of the Germanic and Scandinavian groups that conquered the Roman empire.

4. Not only does the Song of Roland set the foundation for the French literary tradition, but

it also establishes the narrative about the foundation of France itself.

5. Writing in the twelfth century, Marie de France helped establish the major forms and

themes of vernacular literature, especially for what we now call romances, novelistic

narrative's that deal with adventure and love.

6. The thirteenth-century story Thorstein the Staff-Struck is a short example of the Icelandic

saga tradition that speak's about the lives of men and women who lived in Iceland and

Norway between the ninth and eleventh centuries.

7. Beginning in Provence around 1100, the love lyric spread to Sicily, Italy, France,

Germany, and eventually England.

8. The Divine Comedy offers Dante's controversial political and religious beliefs within a

formal and cosmological framework that evoke's the three-in-one of the Christian Trinity:

God the Father; God the Son; and God the Holy Spirit.

9. Best known for his Decameron, Giovanni Boccaccio was one of the many medieval

writers who contributed to the revival of classical literary traditions that would come to

fruition in the Italian Renaissance and later spread to other parts of Europe.
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10. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight revives the "native" Anglo-Saxon tradition first seen in

Beowulf that had apparently been submerged between the twelfth and fourteenth

centuries following the Norman Conquest.

11. Although Chaucer's Canterbury Tales does not appear to be overtly political, it was

written during a period of considerable political and religious turmoil that would

eventually give rise to the Protestant Reformation.

12. Anonymously written plays such as Everyman focused on morality or were dramatic

enactments of homilies and sermons.

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Golden Age of Japanese Culture [100 A.D. to 1500]

1. Although Japanese poetry, drama, literature and other writings of the Golden Age

elaborate on a wide range of philosophical, aesthetic, religious, and political topics, and

while literature and culture have flourished in Japan for over a thousand years, many

misconceptions about Japanese literature persist.

2. One of the earliest monuments of Japanese literature, the Man'yoshu (The Collection of

Ten Thousand Leaves), appears to have been intended as an anthology of poetry


3. The Kokinshu combines great poems of the past with great poems of the present; it also

integrates short poems into longer narrative sequences, thereby becoming more than a

mere collection of poems.

4. Murasaki Shikibu's Tale of Genji, arguably the first significant novel in world literature,

was written in the early eleventh century.

5. The Pillow Book is a seemingly unstructured collection of personal observations, random

thoughts, and perceptions that entered the mind of the author.

6. Not only did the Tale of the Heike help to create the samurai ideal, it has served as an

inspiration for more writers in more genres than any other single work of Japanese


7. Although Shintoism, the native religion emphasizing the protective powers of

supernaturalism, enjoyed widespread popularity, Buddhism began to play an increasingly

important role in premodern Japan, most notably in the arenas of literature and drama.
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8. No (translated as "talent" or "skill"), Japan's classical theater, is a serious and stylized art

form that is produced without most of the artifices of Western theater such as props and

A Review on Literature and A Glimpse of World Literature

Mystical Poetry of India [100 A.D. to 1500]

1. The literary genre of India's medieval era, lyric poetry, was associated with bhakti, or

mystical devotion to God.

2. Bhakti is a populist literary form that is usually composed by poet-saints of all castes and

both genders in their native tongues.

3. Each poem positions the devotee and God in a particular relationship, but the most

popular relationship is that of erotic love between a male god and a female devotee.

4. Bhakti poetry is composed in many different regional languages and elegizes Siva,

Krishna, and other important Hindu deities.

5. The emotive quality of the poems, their ability to provide social critique and the

representation of love that crosses boundaries between the secular and sacred have made

Krishna poetry appealing and accessible to many groups.

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Africa [1500-1650]

1. The founding of the Mali empire is attributed to Son-Jara Keita, whose life and exploits

are the subject of the Son-Jara, the national epic of the Manding people.

2. The rise of ancient Mali in the thirteenth century is closely associated with the spread of

Islam into the region, which had begun in the seventh century.

3. The principal custodians of the oral tradition are professional bards, known among the

Manding as dyeli or belein-tigui.

4. The epic of Son-Jara developed by accretion, which together with its oral transmission

may account for its three distinct generic layers.

5. The ideological function of the epic is the construction of a Manding common identity

under a founding hero.

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The Renaissance [1500-1650]

1. During the Renaissance, notions of Europe's and of humankind's centrality in the world

were challenged and partially discredited by advances in scientific theory, a rediscovery

of Greco-Roman culture, and the so-called discovery of the Americas.

2. The Renaissance reached its peak at different times in different cultures, beginning in

Italy with the visual arts and, nearly two centuries later, working its way as far as

England, where its achievements are most recognized in drama.

3. An interest in the nature of this life rather than in the life to come is of central importance

in the works of Petrarch and Erasmus.

4. The Renaissance tendency toward perfection is well illustrated by Machiavelli's ideal

prince and Castiglione's ideal courtier, but is also illustrated in the reworking of older

literary traditions such as in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso.

5. French rulers and aristocrats adopted the artistic, literary, and social values of the more

sophisticated Italian city-states such as Castiglione's Urbino.

6. Spain's major contributions to Renaissance literature can be traced to Cervantes and Lope

de Vega.

7. Works from the English tradition, including Paradise Lost, Hamlet, and Othello, question

the values of the Renaissance.

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Native America and Europe in the New World [1500-1650]

1. On November 8, 1519, Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and a battalion of four

hundred soldiers entered and seized Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital of the emperor


2. Although contact with the Europeans devastated the cultures of the Native American

groups, efforts were also made to preserve Aztec verbal arts.

3. Though many Aztec and Mayan works were translated into European languages, they

were not made available in native languages for fear of encouraging native religious


4. Much of the literary work in Native American cultures belongs to three basic genres of

the oral tradition—song, narrative, and oratory.

5. How is it possible for "outsiders" to appreciate fully the complexity of literary works that

are inextricably linked to indigenous cultural practices and mores?

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Vernacular Literature in China [1650-1800]

1. When the Mongol (Yüan) armies overran northern China and the southern Sung

dynasties, they established themselves as a dynasty, abolishing governmental principles

derived from Confucian teachings.

2. Often building on works of classical literature, vernacular literature (dealing with sex,

violence, satire, and humor) became known for its ability to elaborate creatively on plots

of earlier works by filling in details or perhaps even by articulating what had been


3. Under the Ch'ing Dynasty, and especially during the period known as the "literary

inquisition," classical Chinese writing suffered a devastating blow.

4. China's autonomy and cultural self-confidence were decimated in the eighteenth and

early nineteenth centuries, when European colonial powers began to exert control over

China's economy.
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Ottoman Empire [1650-1800]

1. On the tenth night of Muharram in 1040 (August 19, 1630), Evliya «elebi dreamed that

the Prophet Muhammad appeared to him and encouraged him to pursue his wanderlust.

2. Sometimes traveling in an official capacity and sometimes traveling as a private

individual, Evliya «elebi recorded his observations in a vivid anecdotal style.

3. After the destruction of the Saljuqid state in the thirteenth century, the Ottomans

established themselves as an independent dynasty in northwestern Anatolia, from which

they expanded into Greece, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and the Balkans.

4. Under Mehmed II the Conqueror, the Ottomans established an architectural style that

symbolized their imperial ambitions, a new legal code, and a policy of imperial

expansion. They continued and enriched Arabic and Persian literary traditions.
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Enlightenment in Europe [1650-1800]

1. In the midst of the massive—and often cataclysmic—social changes that violently

reshaped Europe during the eighteenth century, philosophers and other thinkers

championed reason and the power of the human mind, contributing to the somewhat

misleading appellation of this prerevolutionary period as an "Age of Enlightenment."

2. Because literature was produced by a small cultural elite, it tended to address limited

audiences of the authors' social peers, who would not necessarily notice the class- and

race-specific values that served as a basis for proper conduct and actions outlined in

poems, novels, and belles lettres.

3. The notion of a permanent, divinely ordained, natural order offered comfort to those

aware of the flaws in the actual social order.

4. Reliance on convention as a mode of social and literary control expresses the constant

efforts to achieve an ever-elusive stability in the eighteenth century.

5. By exercising their right to criticize their fellow men and women, satirists evoked a

rhetorical ascendancy that was obtained by an implicit alliance with literary and moral


6. Though she outwardly declared her humility and religious subordination, Sor (Sister)

Juana InÈs de la Cruz managed to advance claims for women's rights in a more profound

and far-reaching way than anyone had achieved in the past.

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Popular Arts in Pre-Modern Japan [1650-1800]

1. To sustain peace, the Tokugawa shoguns expelled Portuguese traders and Christian

missionaries, who tended to play one feudal baron against another in order to subvert

local power, and prohibited any Japanese from traveling abroad.

2. During this period of peace and stability, the role of samurai retainers in maintaining

shogunal authority shifted from warriors to bureaucrats.

3. Often indifferent to tradition, this new merchant class developed a culture of its own,

reflecting the fast pace of urban life in woodblock prints, short stories, novels, poetry, and


4. Ihara Saikaku is known as a founder of new, popular "realistic" literature, writing about

the foibles of the merchant class in urban Osaka.

5. Cultivating the persona of the lonely wayfarer, Matsuo Basho's austere existence was the

antithesis to Saikaku's prosperity.

6. Ueda Akinari is known for his successful insinuation of the supernatural into everyday

life and his keen understanding of the irrational implications of erotic attachment.
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Revolution and Romanticism in Europe and America [1800-1900]

1. Emerging in the late eighteenth century and extending until the late nineteenth century,

Romanticism broke with earlier models of thinking that were guided by rationalism and


2. After the American and French revolutions, faith in social institutions declined

considerably; no longer were systems that were organized around hierarchy and the

separation of classes considered superior.

3. As manufacturing and industrialization developed, resulting in a decline in the

agricultural economy, a "middle class" began to emerge in England and other parts of


4. Breaking with the Christian belief that the self is essentially "evil" and fallible, Romantic

poets and authors often explored the "good" inherent in human beings.

5. As the middle class rose to ascendancy in the nineteenth century, new approaches to

science, biology, class, and race began to shake middle-class society's values.

6. Imagination was seen as a way for the soul to link with the eternal.

7. The new thematic emphases of poetry—belief in the virtues of nature, the "primitive,"

and the past—engendered a form of alienation that was described in the "social protest"

poetry of Romantic poets.

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Urdu Lyric Poetry in Northern India [1800-1900]

1. The most popular lyric genre of Urdu, a hybrid language developed from the interaction

of Hindi and Persian, is the ghazal.

2. Derived from the Arabic praise poem (qasidah), ghazal reflects on love—human, divine,

and spiritual.

3. Formal and thematic conventions are important to the ghazal tradition.

4. Mirza Asadullah Khan, or Ghalib (Conqueror) as he is more commonly known, is

considered the most important poet associated with this tradition.

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Realism, Naturalism, and Symbolism in Europe [1800-1900]

1. Nourished by the political and social aspirations of the middle class, nationalism and

colonialism came to dominate the nineteenth century in Europe.

2. Though its first literary use was in Germany at the turn of the nineteenth century, the

term realism did not become a commonly accepted literary and artistic slogan until

French critics began to use it in the 1850s.

3. Though the realist program made innumerable subjects available to art, it narrowed the

themes and methods of literature.

4. Contrary to what they might think, realist writers did not make a complete break with

past literary conventions, nor did they follow "to the letter" the theories and slogans they


5. As prose looked outward at the world around it, poetry looked inward at its very

construction as language.

6. Inspired by Baudelaire's The Flowers of Evil, Symbolism's manifesto appeared in 1886,

thereby not including the great midcentury poems by Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, and

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The 20th Century: European Modernisms [1900s]

1. In the twentieth century, modernization was used in tandem with colonization as a means

to legitimize the often forced adoption of Western concepts of "progress" in different

parts of the world. As such, modernization also became a stimulus for movements that

rejected "progress" in favor of "tradition."

2. European writers and thinkers looked beyond models of scientific rationalism for means

of expressing knowledge of the world and lived experience that could not be apprehended

by intellect alone.

3. Literary and linguistic systems were seen as games in which "pieces" (words) and "rules"

(grammar, syntax, and other conventions) were combined with playfulness and

sometimes with pathos to emphasize the instabilities of language.

4. The twentieth century is sometimes called a "century of isms" as different groups of

European artists and intellectuals attempted to give expression to contemporary history

and subjectivity.

5. Western modernism is too conceptually limited to describe much of the cultural

productions of older nations in North America such as the Navajo, Zuni, and Inuit.
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Decolonization [1900s]

1. With the spread of Western colonialism from Europe and North America to Asia, Africa,

and South America also came the spread of its by-product; Western modernism.

2. Though early criticisms were leveled at former colonial subjects who wrote in the

colonizer's language since such writing was considered to reflect "impoverished"

experiences, more recent evaluations point to the ways that the writings of former

colonial subjects have enriched European languages.

3. Though social-realist movements varied considerably within Chinese, Indian, and Soviet

contexts, in general they denounced the bourgeois and colonialist values expounded in

Western art and literature.

4. Though English-language literatures are well known outside India, literatures in regional

languages such as Kannada, Urdu, Sindhi, Bengali, Hindi, and Tamil represent other

aspects of Indian life.

5. The literary traditions of the diverse countries that the West calls "the Middle East"

reflect the multiple histories and cultural traditions of the region.

6. In addition to experiences of Western colonialism in Africa, African writers also address

issues related to the slave trade and to the African diaspora.

7. The generally political nature of magical realism in South American writing was often

missed by earlier generations of Western readers, who were too amazed by the

imaginative creativity of magical realism.

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