What is Literature – Definition, Types, Examples

What is Literature



Literature is any written work, but it is usually used to refer to works of fiction or novels, plays, poems, and short stories. This is because these types of works are usually seen as being more artistic and having more value than other types of writing, such as non-fiction or informational texts.

History of Literature

A study of literature is essential to understanding humanity. Without literature, we would not know about the thoughts, emotions, and experiences of people from different cultures and times. Knowledge of the history of literature is also necessary for understanding how our own culture has developed.

The first examples of literature date back to around 3500 BCE, when the Sumerians began writing on clay tablets in cuneiform script. This ancient form of writing was used by the Babylonians and Assyrians as well. The earliest known work of literature from this period is The Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian poem about a hero’s journey.

The next major development in the history of literature came with the invention of the alphabet in around 1500 BCE. This made it possible for people to write down their thoughts and experiences in a much more efficient way than before. The Ancient Greeks then used the alphabet to develop their own literary tradition.

They wrote plays such as The Trojan Women, and poems including The Iliad, which tells the story of the siege of Troy. The Romans adopted many aspects of Greek culture and language, including their writing system. A page from the Codex Gigas, the world’s largest medieval manuscript. The first books were made in China around 500 BCE. They were often collections of stories or folk tales that told moral and religious lessons. The Chinese then used the written word to develop a rich tradition of poetry and drama. The first book that was also known as a ‘novel’ was One Hundred and One Nights, which was written in Arabic.

Also see What is Humanities

Types of Literature

Types of Literature are as follows:

  • Poetry
  • Prose
  • Novel
  • Novella
  • Short story
  • Graphic novel
  • Electronic literature
  • Nonfiction
  • Drama


Poetry is a form of literature that uses language to convey emotions or ideas in a concise and often rhythmic manner. Poetry has been around for centuries, with many different cultures creating their own unique styles. While some people may view poetry as difficult to understand, there is often great beauty in its simplicity. Whether you are looking to read poems for enjoyment or to better analyze literary works, understanding the basics of poetry can be very helpful.


Prose is a type of written language that typically contains dialogue and narration. In literature, prose is the most common form of writing. Prose can be found in novels, short stories, plays, and essays.


A novel is a fictional book that is typically longer than 300 pages. It tells a story, usually in chronological order, and has characters and settings that are developed over the course of the story. Novels are often divided into chapters, which help to break up the story and make it easier to read.

Novels are one of the most popular genres of literature, and there are many different types of novels that you can read. Whether you’re looking for a romance novel, a mystery novel, or a historical fiction novel, there’s sure to be a book out there that you’ll love.


A novella is a work of fiction that is shorter than a novel but longer than a short story. The word “novella” comes from the Italian word for “new”, which is fitting because this type of story is often seen as being between the old and the new. In terms of length, a novella typically has about 20,000 to 40,000 words.

While novels are usually about one main plot with several subplots, novellas are usually focused on one central conflict. This conflict is usually resolved by the end of the story. However, because novellas are longer than short stories, there is more room to develop characters and explore themes in depth.

Short story

A short story is a work of fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents.

The short story is one of the oldest forms of literature and has been found in oral cultures as well as in written form. In terms of length, it is much shorter than the novel, typically ranging from 1,000 to 20,000 words.

The short story has often been described as a “perfect form” because it allows for greater compression and variety than either the novel or poem. It also allows writers to experiment with different styles and genres.

Graphic novel

A graphic novel is a book that tells a story through the use of illustrations and text. Graphic novels can be based on true stories, or they can be fictional. They are usually longer than traditional books, and they often have more complex plots.

Graphic novels first gained popularity in the 1970s, when publishers began releasing collections of comics that had been previously published in magazines. Since then, the genre has grown to include original works, as well as adaptations ofexisting stories.

Graphic novels are now widely respected as a form of literature, and they have been adapted into many different mediums, including movies, television shows, and stage plays.

Electronic literature

Electronic literature, also known as e-literature, is a genre of writing that uses electronic media to create works of art. This type of literature often includes elements of interactivity, hypertextuality, and multimedia.

E-literature has its roots in early computer games and interactive fiction. These early works were created using simple text-based programming languages like BASIC and HTML. Today, e-literature has evolved into a complex form of art that incorporates multimedia elements such as audio and video.


Non-fiction in literature is defined as prose writings that are based on real events, people, or places. Non-fiction is often divided into categories such as biography, history, and essay.


Drama is a genre of literature that tells a story through the use of dialogue and action. It often has a strong plot and characters who undergo change or development over the course of the story. Drama can be divided into several subgenres, such as tragedy, comedy, and farce.

Also see Literature Review

Examples of Literature

One of the earliest examples of literature is the Epic of Gilgamesh, a Mesopotamian poem that dates back to approximately 2100 BCE. This narrative poem tells the story of Gilgamesh, a Sumerian king who goes on a quest to find immortality. The Epic of Gilgamesh is significant not only because it is one of the oldest pieces of literature, but also because it is one of the first examples of literary storytelling.

Another early example of literature is The Odyssey, an epic poem written by the Greek poet Homer. The Odyssey tells the story of Odysseus, a Greek king who must journey home after enduring ten years of war. Along the way, Odysseus faces many challenges, including shipwrecks, monsters, and seductive women.

Purpose of Literature

When it comes to literature, there are a variety of purposes it can serve.

  • It can be used to entertain, inform, or even teach.
  • Oftentimes, literature is used as a form of escapism, providing readers with a way to escape the everyday stresses of life.
  • For some, literature is a way to explore different cultures and worlds, without ever having to leave home.
  • No matter what the purpose may be, literature has the ability to transport readers to new and exciting places.

Also see What is Art – Definition, Types, Examples

About the author

Muhammad Hassan

I am Muhammad Hassan, a Researcher, Academic Writer, Web Developer, and Android App Developer. I have worked in various industries and have gained a wealth of knowledge and experience. In my spare time, I enjoy writing blog posts and articles on a variety of Academic topics. I also like to stay up-to-date with the latest trends in the IT industry to share my knowledge with others through my writing.