In literature there are three central pillars: poetry, prose (short stories/novel), and drama.
This short unit will give you an introduction to the key differences between each form.
You can venture on from this point to explore each of these three areas in more detail....
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In the units that follow you are going to be exploring the way in which writers create characters, develop setting and project ideas within prose, poetry and drama.
How and Why We Read: Novels, Poetry and Drama
In English you might typically think of great playwrights like William Shakespeare, novelists like J.K. Rowling, or poets like William Wordsworth.
The three main pillars of English literature are:
Prose fiction (short stories and novels)/ Prose non-fiction (essays, letters)
Poetry (of which there are myriad forms: written/spoken, haiku, sonnets, free form, rhyme, epic poetry etc.)
Drama (plays/monologues-- often intended to be performed, not just read)
What all these forms of literature do is allow us to peer into the human condition, empathise with characters from different cultures and eras (sometimes from thousands of years ago!) and understand how they loved, who they were enemies with, what did they feel about their communities, their families and themselves. We can see a part of ourselves in them, and it is this act of holding up a mirror to our lives that allows great literature to echo down the ages for eternity.
Examine these quotations from three classic authors:
“That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald
“From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.” ― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives. She went on olden-day sailing ships with Joseph Conrad. She went to Africa with Ernest Hemingway and to India with Rudyard Kipling. She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.” ― Roald Dahl, Matilda
Evidence for this unit
Quotations about literature
We defined literature as a means of being able to go back through history and empathise with characters/people from beyond time.