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Literature and Life

Literature, ideas, learning and Knowledge.

Literature, ideas, learning and Knowledge.

The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractacus Logico-Philosophicus

Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them….I know they are as lively and as vigorously productive as those fabulous dragon’s teeth and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men.
John Milton

There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.
Carl Jung

What the dead had no speech for, when living, They can tell you, being dead: the communication Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.
T. S. Eliot

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
T. S. Eliot

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot

We know too much, and are convinced of too little. Our literature is a substitute for religion, and so is our religion.
T. S. Eliot

The greatness of literature cannot be determined solely by literary standards though we must remember that whether it is literature or not can be determined only by literary standards.
T. S. Eliot

The historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of literature from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order.
T. S. Eliot

Literature is news that stays news.
Ezra Pound

Our high respect for a well read person is praise enough for literature.
T. S. Eliot

It is just the literature that we read for ‘amusement’ or ‘purely for pleasure’ that may have the greatest, least suspected, earliest influence on us.
T.S. Eliot

The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
J. B. Priestley

Religion is only literature, but luckily literature is more than that!
Carl William Brown

The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read.
Oscar Wilde

Imaginative literature in the service of rebellion, or satanism, quickly sinks  into exhibitionism or obscurity. Imaginative literature as the expression of a deeply apprehended truth, poetry which interprets to a man the myth of his own age, can in the hands of Dante, of Shakespeare, of Cervantes, of Camoes and of  Goethe, help to raise the level of a whole civilization.
J. M. Cohen

Literature that is not the breath of contemporary society, that dares not transmit the pains and fears of that society, that does not warn in time against threatening moral and social dangers, such literature does not deserve the name of literature; it is only a façade. Such literature loses the confidence of its own people, and its published works are used as wastepaper instead of being read.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Since “Profonda Magia E’ Sempre Trar Il Contrario Dopo Aver Trovato Il Punto De’ L’unione” as Giordano Bruno said, I don’t agree with Eliot when he affirms that the purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink, but I would rather say that the real, magick sense and goal of literature is the opposite, that is to turn ink into blood!
Carl William Brown

Literature is a vague term which usually denotes works which belong to the major genres: epic, drama, lyric, ode, novel, short story, etc. In any case its main feature is that it is referred to the practice and profession of writing and reading. It comes from human interest in telling a story, in arranging words in artistic forms, in describing in words some aspects of human experiences. So we can read Literature for Knowledge, for Pleasure, for Relaxation or as a therapy to the nuisances of life! Literature, painting, sculpture, theatre, film – all these forms are part of people’s efforts to transcend reality. It might be for the purpose of moralizing, of presenting a “higher truth,” or simply to entertain, to replace the theatre of the real with pleasant fantasy.
Carl William Brown

Most definitions of literature have been criterial definitions, definitions based on a list of criteria which all literary works must meet. However, more current theories of meaning take the view that definitions are based on prototypes: there is broad agreement about good examples that meet all of the prototypical characteristics, and other examples are related to the prototypes by family resemblance. For literary works, prototypical characteristics include careful use of language, being written in a literary genre (poetry, prose fiction, or drama), being read aesthetically, and containing many weak implicatures.
Jim Meyer

In an essay titled The Poetry of Pope (published in the North British Review, Aug. 1848), Thomas de Quincey made an interesting distinction between the literature of knowledge and the literature of power: There is, first, the literature of knowledge; and, secondly, the literature of power. The function of the first is to teach; the function of the second is to move. The first is a rudder, the second an oar or a sail. The first speaks to the mere discursive understanding; the second speaks ultimately, it may happen, to the higher understanding or reason, but always througb affections of pleasure and sympathy. De Quincey elaborates the idea at some length. What he is getting at is that an encyclopaedia instructs and is therefore didactic; a great play, on the other hand, moves by appealing to the emotions and thereby also instructs but in a totally different way.
Short glossary of Literary Terms ;

A hallmark feature of human intelligence is its adaptability, the ability to invent and rearrange conceptions of the world to suit changing goals and environments. One consequence of this flexibility is the great diversity of languages that have emerged around the globe. Each provides its own cognitive toolkit and encapsulates the knowledge and worldview developed over thousands of years within a culture. Each contains a way of perceiving, categorizing and making meaning in the world, an invaluable guidebook developed and honed by our ancestors.
Lera Boroditsky, “How Language Shapes Thought,” Scientific American, Feb. 2011

The most noble and profitable invention of all other, was that of speech, consisting of names or apellations, and their connections; whereby men register their thoughts; recall them when they are past; and also declare them one to another for mutual utility and conversation; without which, there had been amongst men, neither commonwealth, nor society, nor contract, nor peace, no more than amongst lions, bears, and wolves.
Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

The Nature of Literature
The first problem to confront us is, obviously, the subject matter of literary scholarship. What is literature? What is not literature? What is the nature of literature? Simple as such
questions sound, they are rarely answered clearly. One way is to define “literature” as everything in print. We then shall be able to study the “medical profession in the fourteenth century” or “planetary motion in the early Middle Ages” or “Witchcraft in Old and New England.” As Edwin Greenlaw has argued, “Nothing related to the history of civilization is beyond our province” ; we are “not limited to belles lettres or even to printed or manuscript records in our effort to understand a period or civilization,” and we “must see our work in the light  of its possible contribution to the history of culture.”
Rene Wellek and Austin Warren


Poetry and Poets ; Beauty of Britain ; Short Essays

Thoughts and Reflections ; Best Quotes ; George Mikes Cat ;

History of English Literature Summaries (pdf)  ;

British_literature_history_chart_summary.htm  ;

General_literature_history_chart_summary.htm  ;

American_literature_history_chart_summary.htm  ;

British_english_history_timeline.htm  ;

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