I am indebted to Sandra Claasen - her website has been an invaluable source of both content and inspiration, and much of the notes regarding literature have been copied from from her site, 'http://www.mrs-claassen.co.za/'. I have also sourced information from various free, online sites such as http://www.k12reader.com/ and http://www.ereadingworksheets.com/.
The word ‘literature’ comes from the Latin word litterae meaning letter and can be defined as the art of the written work. Literature encompasses both fictional as well as non-fictional works.
The study of literature involves the following aspects:
- What the author/playwright/poet is trying to say (i.e. the theme or central message of the text)
- What is the novel / play / poem about (content)? Are these ideas obvious (explicit), or are they hidden (implicit
- What is the significance of the title and setting?
- What does the author / playwright / poet communicate through the thoughts, words and actions of the characters?
- From whose point of view is the story told?
- How does the style, tone and mood help us to experience the plot and themes?
- What devices are used (imagery / sound devices / rhythm / rhyme)?
- In poetry, what structure is used (stanzas / line lengths / regular or free verse)?
Literature is most commonly divided into genres.
The dictionary describes a genre as a class or category of artistic work. At school we deal with the following literary genres: novels, short stories, poetry, plays, film.
Within these literary genres we can further sub-classify the works as romance, mystery, crime, fantasy adventure, horror, etc.
For an easy way to remember what a genre is, think about a DVD store and how the DVDs are grouped.