Literature in the broad sense covers any written work. Literature has its roots in the latin word literatura/litteratura which itself has been derived from the word littera, meaning letter or handwriting. It was used to refer to all written accounts. Contemporary definition of literature includes spoken or sung texts and excludes informative writings like technical and scholarly.
Literature, hence, refers to any spoken or written attempt that possesses an artistic merit. The major forms of literature are poetry, prose and drama. Poetry is a genre of literature in which feelings are given form by the use of distinctive style and rhythm. Poetry is set in verse. Prose is made up of sentences and paragraphs. It does not have any rhyming structure. It possesses ordinary syntax and natural speech. Prose itself comes in three flavors viz. novel, novella and short story. Novel is a long fictional prose narrative. Novella and short story are two debated form of prose. Both seem to have a contested origin. Drama is literature intended for performance. It is often combined with music and dance. Literature, hence, has always been thought of as a form of human expression. Some other forms of literature include essays, philosophical, historic, journalistic and scientific writings. An essay generally contains discussion on a topic from the author’s point of view.
Some recent philosophy works are argued to merit the title “literature”, but much of it does not, and some areas, such as منطق, have become extremely technical to a degree similar to that of mathematics. Literature is liked by all and sundry. Literature, from times unknown, has had a vast audience. Oral literature was famous among the tribal societies. As society evolved, tribal literature was distinguished from literature experienced by the elite. One came to be known as folk literature and the other, elite literature. Literature has changed a lot in the 20th century. As the world becomes more and more cosmopolitan, the future of literature is quite impossible to determine.