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Literature as Art

I am a professional teacher, writer, researcher, and learner. I always try to learn because there is no age for learning.


A work of literature can be considered an art form when it meets the following criteria: It has artistic merit, must have aesthetic value, and has imaginative or creative qualities that set it apart from reality and other works of literature. To understand why literature can be considered an art form, let’s discuss the three categories of literature that help us decide if literature has artistic merit and aesthetic value in comparison to other literary works.

A Woman in White Shirt

What Makes Literature Art?

Everyone has their own opinion on what makes something art, but there are a few popular arguments. A common argument is that art helps us appreciate life in a new way. Take music for example The popularity of classical music peaked centuries ago, and today it seems it's only used for background noise. But despite falling out of favor with modern audiences, pieces like Beethoven's 5th Symphony and his 9th Symphony still amaze listeners and give them a new appreciation for music. Another argument is that art lets people relate to something different than their day-to-day lives.

Does Literature Need to Be Educational?

When literature is viewed solely as a platform for imparting wisdom, it’s stripped of its artistic merit. When all arguments are focused on what literature needs to be to justify its existence, educators lose sight of why it has been for millennia: an art form. Literature should be evaluated based on how successful it is at fulfilling its primary purpose—to provide entertainment and other artistic merits. At its core, reading and analyzing works of fiction and poetry shouldn’t require extensive research into neurobiology or Shakespearean linguistics. As long as readers can extract some wisdom from a book, teachers should use their discretion when deciding whether or not that book has educational value.

Are there Different Types of Literature?

Of course, there are different types of literature out there. Some authors write short stories, while others prefer to pen novels. Still, others will write poetry or even makeup scripts for plays. How these texts are written will vary by genre, but all of them are art pieces that capture various elements of human nature. Of course, not everyone agrees with literature's artistic quality; some people consider it a fun pastime that is merely fantasy and nothing more. However, those who appreciate literature know better. They know that every piece of writing contains an element of truth about what it means to be human.

Is Reading Literature a Waste of Time?

Although some people think of literature as simply a hobby for intellectual types, nothing could be further from the truth. Reading literature can improve your life and make you smarter in more ways than one. At its most basic level, reading opens up your mind to new ideas and ways of thinking that you may not otherwise have come across, which ultimately makes you a better person. So if you're wondering whether or not reading is worth it, consider that the simple act of opening up a book has given rise to some of history's most prominent philosophers and writers. Their ideas have forever changed society at large—and could even change yours! The next time someone asks why you like to read so much, just tell them Because I'm an individual. Are You Intelligent? As someone who reads literature regularly, there are a few things that might strike you as immediately obvious: 1) Literature is difficult; 2) You never know what will happen next; 3) No matter how hard something seems at first, with enough practice (i.e., reading), anyone can become an expert; 4) People like different things; 5) Being intelligent doesn't mean being rich or successful; 6) All kinds of intelligence exist on their own merits; 7) Anyone who tells you differently isn't necessarily wrong.

Is it Art?

Critics of literature often claim that it isn’t real art. However, literature relies on many of the same principles as visual and performance art: The author creates a representation of something abstract using concrete elements, whether those are words or images, or sounds. In literature, these elements include plot, characters, and tone. To examine these literary arts is to examine writing critically in all its forms—and to ask what makes a good book so memorable and why we continue to read long after school assignments are turned in. What separates literary fiction from genre fiction? Literature, like art, is sometimes defined by genre; but if you're asking about the quality of content, you call define literature with a simple definition. Some people may see any work of literature as inherently superior because it's considered high culture. But anyone who has seen how one reader responds to Jane Austen and another reader enjoys George R.R. Martin knows that just because someone reads books doesn't mean they're all reading the same thing! Asking whether something qualifies as literary art comes down to opinion...but I think it's fair to say that most people would agree their favorite books do qualify as both.

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People Reading Books in Library

Should Literature be Entertainment?

There are only so many hours in a day. Is it worth dedicating time to an art form that doesn’t offer us anything tangible in return? After all, if we’re going to be spending our time reading, shouldn’t we be maximizing our entertainment per minute ratio? Why not just watch cat videos on YouTube and make ourselves feel better while saving time at the same time? The fact is, there’s no real answer to these questions. The value of literature is highly subjective—it means different things to different people. While one person might derive great pleasure from being entertained by a piece of fiction, another might find more value in delving into philosophical musings or exploring social issues through characters and plotlines. In other words, there is no right way to read literature—the best way is simply your way. And that's what makes it such an interesting topic for discussion: what you get out of literature depends entirely on you and your own experiences with life.

Can We Judge Fiction?

One way to approach literature is to think of it as art, and that can be a powerful tool for analyzing it. It’s an idea that comes from one of my favorite writing teachers, Donald Murray: When we read prose fiction, no matter what kind it is, we need to see what a beautiful thing it is if we're going to enjoy reading it. And when I say see, I mean to see with our eyes and our minds and our feelings —it takes all three. We have to take in the whole thing—every last word, every picture, every sound effect—and all at once or else something will be lost. No single part can stand alone, because they are all parts of a whole. They work together like pieces in a puzzle; you might not understand how they fit together until you've put them together yourself. So before you start judging books by their covers or judging writers by their names (or dismissing them based on your opinions about their politics), make sure you've taken time to look at them up close.

Where Do We Draw the Line between Literature and Art?

From Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings to Georges Seurat’s impressionist landscapes, some of our most celebrated artists have been inspired by literature. But where do we draw the line between literature and art? Many writers have taken inspiration from visual arts, music, and other forms of writing – and in turn, created works that are considered to be both literary masterpieces and works of art. From John Keats to E B White, see a selection of literary figures who created beautiful art.

Black text on White Textured Paper

Are People Who Read Only for Entertainment Ignorant or Lazy?

When someone doesn’t read, it’s easy to assume they’re ignorant or lazy. But people who don’t read books are often reading in some other way—they may be avid viewers of television shows or streamers of documentaries on Netflix. If you ask them what their favorite show is, they can tell you an intricate plot arc with dozens of characters and subplots. They have opinions about everything from snappy dialogue to character development and can cite various examples from all sorts of media. Many readers aren’t opposed to reading for entertainment purposes—they simply prefer not to do so in a book format.

Is Great Literature Not Required in Today’s World?

Great Literature is Not Required in Today’s World. I’m not saying that great literature has no place in our society because it certainly does. But by saying that we should read more great literature, are we putting ourselves down and believing that what we have to say isn’t important? One of my favorite lines from Howl, a poem written by Allen Ginsberg, is: America I'm putting my queer shoulder to your wheel. In one stanza, he proclaims his undying patriotism to America and allows himself to create art without restriction or censorship. He could be considered a great writer but his writing style and content are so different than other writers that you can't compare him to them. He used a unique voice and told stories through poetry that hadn't been told before him. His work was controversial at first but now it's taught in schools across America for its historical value. What I am trying to get at here is that maybe there are many people out there who feel like they don't fit into society with their ideas or beliefs, but they shouldn't let others put them down just because they're different than everyone else. And if you don't think literature matters anymore then look around you; most people are reading books on their phones or tablets these days.

AdirOffice Wooden Literature Organizer

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Ghulam Nabi Memon

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