CLASS: SENIOR ONE
UNIT I: INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY GENRES: FICTION AND NON-FICTION
UNIT II: INTRODUCTION TO PROSE: PLOT, SETTING & CHARACTERS
UNIT III: INTRODUCTION TO POETRY
UNIT IV: THEMES AND MESSAGES IN POETRY
UNIT V: LANGUAGE USE IN POETRY
UNIT VI: INTRODUCTION TO DRAMA
UNIT VII: KEY ASPECTS OF DRAMA
UNIT I: INTRODUCTION TO LITERARY GENRES: FICTION AND NON-FICTION
The term “Literature” comes from a Latin word literatura or litteratura which means “writing formed with letters”. Literatura derived from a Latin root “littera” which means “letter or handwriting”, or knowledge of letters.
Literature is a term used to describe written or verbal material. Generally speaking, literature can express anything from creative writing to more technical or scientific work. But, the term “literature” is frequently used to refer to works of the creative imagination which includes poetry, drama, fiction and non-fiction.
In broad sense, literature can be looked at as any symbolic record encompassing everything from images, sculptures, to letters. In a narrow sense we can define literature as a text composed of letters, written on a paper or other material. In everyday life, we perceive literature to mean any written material.
I.2. DEFINITION OF LITERATURE
There are many great thinkers and writers who have given wonderful definitions of literature. Some of them are given below:
Boris Pasternak said that it is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.
Iman Ja’ far al Sadiq defined literature as “the garment which one puts on what he says or writes so that it may appear attractive”.
– any written material
-a text composed of letters, written on paper or other solid material.
-a kind of art which uses language in a creative and artistic way to comment on society.
-an art that is created out of a language.
-the use of language in creative and artistic way.
The definitions given above consider literature as something that is distinguished by style and beautiful language. Therefore, it involves the use of language but in a more stylistic and artistic manner.
I.3. THE IMPORTANCE OF LITERATURE
Literature educates and informs us about our world: By reading literary texts we are able to understand ourselves and other people, and know other places and time periods.
Literature is very entertaining: it enables us to share our emotions with the text.
Literature satisfies and stimulates our imagination: By making us curious and critical thinkers, we are able to evaluate or judge things. It challenges our minds and enables us to grow both intellectually and socially.
It broadens our reasoning.
Literature helps us to understand our history and our identities better.
It increases our knowledge.
It enables us to use language with ease.
It sharpens one’s intellect and equips one with good communication.
Literature humanizes us: we develop sensibility and compassion towards others. We also appreciate what is good and reject what is bad. It makes us better people.
It helps us to know other disciplines (religion, psychology, science,…)
Literature helps us to better fit in other professions as we can express ourselves creatively in spoken and written forms, and these are the skills learnt by reading literary works.
I.4. FORMS OF LITERATURE
Literature exists in two forms: Oral literature and written literature.
a. Oral literature: It is literature which is disseminated/transmitted/spread by word of mouth. It is literature which is not written in textbook.
Ex: Poems, songs, riddles, tongue twisters, proverbs, fairy tales….
b. Written literature: It is literature which is written down on a paper or other solid material. It is literature which is written in textbooks.
Ex: Novels, novellas, plays, prose passages, newspapers, journals, …
Oral literature is carried in the memories of members of different communities and it is passed from one generation to another. This one existed before the invention of writing. On the other hand, written literature started or came with the invention of writing.
I.5. MAIN GENRES OF LITERATURE
The word “genre” refers to a kind or a category of literature. Written literature is divided into three broad genres or categories based on how or the way words are written and sometimes on the kind of meaning an author wants to portray. Those genres are prose, poetry and drama.
Prose refers to literature which is written in continuous sentences and paragraphs. It comprises of full grammatical sentences which consist of paragraphs.
It practices a natural flow of speech and common grammatical structure rather than a rhythmic formation. Prose also tends to focus on plot and characters.
Main varieties of prose are novels, short stories, journals, novellas, diaries, letters, and non-fiction.
Example1: I was only ten years when my sister was sold away. That was two years ago. A few days before, the suitors had come. Three ugly women and four men. One of the four men wanted to be the husband of my sister. I disliked the way he looked, but my father and the clan liked him very much. They said he came from a rich family. His father had many herds of cattle and a large flock of sheep. (From “They sold my sister” by Leteipa Ole Sunkuli)
Example2: “The woods look lovely against the setting darkness. As I gaze into the mysterious depths of the forest, I feel like lingering here no longer. However, I have pending appointments to keep and much distance to cover. So, I will not settle in or else I will be late for all of them.”
Poetry refers to literature which is written in verse form. It is a special kind of writing in which words, pictures and sounds combine making a special emotional effect or spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions.
Poetry is regarded as the oldest form of literature. Before writing was invented, oral stories were commonly put into some kind of poetic form. It made them easier to memorize and recite.
It has been generally agreed that all music is poetry. Poetry is meant to be recited because it uses words and sounds to excite us making us dance or nod. Poetry is meant to be recited but often, it is written down. Poetry is almost always written in verses (lines) and stanzas and the one who writes or recite poetry is a poet.
Example1: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep”
Example2: The crack by Sheikha El-Miskery
Crack the glass
And the crack
Will always remain
The human heart
It’s just delicate
To the strain
Example3: Epistle to the World by Leteipa Ole Sunkuli
Children will bear
On their shoulders
The murderers of theirs fathers
The murderers of their mothers
In a treacherous embrace.
Drama refers to literature which is written in dialogue form. It is a form of fictional representation through dialogue and performance. It is also an imitation of different actions. Drama should be acted before the audience in order to communicate a message. It includes conflict of characters that perform in front of the audience on stage.
ELISE: “The woods look more and more beautiful as we go deeper into the forest”.
BETTY: “Yes, but it is late and we have other places that we promised we’ll visit.
It’d be better that we keep our promises, before setting down in the woods.”
Any text that is meant to be performed rather than read can be considered as drama. Drama are also frequently called plays and the one who writes drama/play is called a dramatist or playwright.
I.6. TYPES OF LITERARY WORKS
We have seen three main genres of literature. All those genres (prose, poetry, drama) have their own sub-genres.
Sub-genres of prose
Novel: A novel is a long piece of narrative fiction.
It is along work of narrative fiction normally in prose, and typically published as a book.
Ex: “Weep Not Child” by Ngugi wa Thiong’o
“African Child” by Camara Laye
“A Man of the People” by Chinua Achebe
Short story: It is a fictional work of prose that is shorter than a novel.
It is a brief work of fiction usually written in prose and running 1,600 to 20,000 words in length.
Ex: “They sold my sister” by Leteipa Ole Sunkuli.
Fairy tale: It is a story about magic and legendary deeds.
It is a children’s story about magical and imaginary beings and lands.
It is a story that typically features entities such as dwarfs, dragons,elves, faireies,witches, giants, talking animals,..
Ex: Cinderella and the Seven Dwarfs, The Frog Prince,..
Autobiography: It is a story of the author’s own life written by him.
Ex: “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela
“Family Life at the White House” by Bill Clinton
Biography: An account (story) of someone’s life written by someone else.
Ex: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.
Diary: Diaries are the events documented by an author without any means of publishing them.
A record (originally in handwriting) with discrete entries arranged by date reporting on what happened over the course of the day or other period.
Fable: It is a short story that features animals and conveys a specific moral lesson.
Ex: The Fox and the crow by Aesop
The Tortoise and the Hare by Aesop
Novella: It is a story that is longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.
It is a short novel or a long short story.
It is a text of written, fictional, narrative prose normally longer than a short story but shorter than a novel.
Subgenres of drama
Melodrama: A kind of drama having a musical accompaniment to intensify the effects of certain scenes.
Tragedy: A kind of drama with tragic events and having an unhappy ending especially the downfall of the main character.
It is a kind of drama in which a heroic protagonist encounters a crisis and falls from grace to grass
It is a drama with a tragic and an unhappy ending.
Ex: The Iliad by Home
The Odyssey by Homer
Oedipus the King by Sophocles
Comedy: It is a humorous play with a happy ending.
Ex: Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Tragicomedy: It is a drama that combines the elements of a tragedy and a comedy. You will cry and laugh while watching a tragicomedy.
It can be a tragedy with a happy ending or a tragedy with enough comic elements.
I.6. CHARACTERISTICS OF FICTIONAL AND NON-FICTIONAL LITERARY WORKS
Prose as a genre of literature can be divided into two broad categories. Fiction and non-fiction.
Fiction refers to literature which is created out of imagination. In a fictional work; the places do not necessarily exist in the real life. They are imagined or they originate in the writer’s mind.
- Fiction is created by an author from imagination.
- The people, events, places and ideas, are imaginary and invented.
- Many times, authors use a narrator who is not a real person.
- It is a story with a series of connected events.
- Fiction is entertaining.
Non-fiction refers to literature based on fact. It is literature based on true accounts of the people, events and places. It includes all writings based on true events. It is based on the real people existing in real places.
- Non-fiction is based on true events and facts.
- It involves real people, real events, real places and real ideas.
- It is narrated by an author who is a real person
- It is not necessarily a story.
- It is informative.