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Introduction to Literature 1

The Two Pleasures of Studying Literature


- The pleasure of the imagination.
- The pleasure of understanding the complexities of human condition.
(Evasco, 2010)
WHAT is LITERATURE?
Literature is life. It presents human experience not by telling you what they are but by showing them to
you through a medium called language.
o Language is composed of words combined into sentences to express ideas, emotions, or
desires.
o Words have both meaning and sound. Hence, to understand literature, one must know
both the sound and the sense/meaning that constitute the language used.

The Three Principal Ingredients of Literature
SUBJECT the human experience (i.e., sensations, feelings, moods, attitudes, thoughts, and
events) in an interrelated series.
FORM the specific vehicle or artistic structure chosen by the writer to convey meaning or
value.
POINT OF VIEW the particular angle of vision assumed by the writer to present human
experience. It is through this angle of vision that the reader becomes personally involved in the
experience related by the writer.

Subject
To find meaning in a literary work, one should approach it through its subject, which can be
treated in at least three levels:
1. The description of the particular event, emotion, idea, etc. that the poem reveals.
2. The generalization drawn from the description.
3. The human condition and the system of values that the topic of the poem deals with.
The third level of the subject is what is commonly known as the THEME.
Literature invites its readers to make generalizations from descriptions of human situations, conditions,
or behaviours. This function leads to the development of a better perspective and understanding of the
value of a literary genre.


Form
Essential in understanding totality of the literary effect is form, which refers to the verbal and
artistic structuring of ideas.

The reader must pay careful attention to the form primarily because the work of art is in large
part an aesthetically shaped structure. In fact, the literariness of the text partially depends on its
form. Considering it allows the reader to experience the delight inherent in the work of art.

On the most basic level, form may include the stanzas, rhyme, meter for poetry; of arrangement
of incidents in a particular plot or of the sequence in which ideas are developed for the novel; of
the development and sequence of ideas for the essay.

Therefore, form in literature is always somehow connected with arrangement and, in the larger
sense, the satisfaction of mans desire for significant patterns.

Point of View
The term point of view is used to refer to the tone of the utterances, that is, the sense that
the reader gains of the authors attitude toward the subject.
o It deals with the problems of persons and irony, where the statements of characters
and/or narrator are not necessarily those of the author; the problems of persuasion,
where the reader may or may not wish to accord with the solicited response.

Point of view, as an effective medium of approaching literature is affective. i.e., the author
too ha a response to his subject and that he uses various techniques of structure and
rhetoric to elicit a response from his reader.

The Literary Genres (Presentation and the Structure of Literature)
Drama
Novel and the Short Story (Fiction)
Poetry
Essay

Manner of Presentation:
Each genre is characterized by a particular manner of presentation wherein we see clearly the
relationship existing among the author, the audience, and the work itself.
GENRE AUDIENCE AUTHOR WORK
Drama Group absent performed
short story Private concealed read
novel Private concealed read
Poetry Ignored present recited
Essay Private implied read

1. The drama is performed objectively before an audience, the actors being presumed to be
fictional characters themselves, not spokesman for the author. It is seen and heard.
2. The short story and the novel are marked by the absence of the author and any other actor or
expositor. They are read. Since they do not differ in this respect, both are simply called fiction.
3. Poetry is recited by the author or the spokesman for him but not to the audience. Figuratively,
therefore, poetry is overheard.
Structural Base of the Literary Genres
* All types of literature have four structural bases, namely: tone, character, plot, and theme. However,
each literary genre is most typically structured in terms of one of the four. The typical structure
derives from the presentation that defines the genre.

Poetry It is read; for this reason, its structural base is sound and what sound
expresses, mood. The two constitute the tone.
Drama It is witnessed; therefore, its structural base is event, the building
blocks of the plot.
Fiction It is vicariously experienced; hence, its structural base is
consciousness, the realm of the characters.
Essay It is communicated; its structural base is the message to be
understood, the theme.

*Structure refers to the relationship among parts of an artistic written work.
*Structural base means what defines a part.


In this literary genre, the artistic work is performed as an objective occurrence witnessed by the
audience. Since the drama is performed objectively before an audience, this literary genre involves the
presence of the audience and the work but the artist, the author himself, is absent.