I enjoyed reading the above posts, but I tend to agree most with the previous one by kplhardison. I consider literature an aggregate of the written word, knowledge and grammar, comprised in a superior fashion and exhibiting heightened values to set it apart from other standard writing.
In English, the definition of literature is not so elegant. It is defined simply as the collection of written books that have superior merit and affect readers in some universal way while speaking of some universal truth: Shakespeare and Henry James and Faulkner are all considered contributors to literature because their works are superior (each in its own different way) and speak in a universally relevant way about universal issues and values. The etymology of the English word "literature" is that it is derived from the Latin word lit(t)eratura, which means "learning, writing, grammar" (Oline Etymology Dictionary online at Dictionary.com).
The term literature has many different meanings. That being said, for some, literature has a very defined meaning. For others, they believe in a very simplistic understanding of the term.
Literature is a written work. By this, one can consider the more accepted writings as literature: novels, novellas, poetry, and speeches. This list is not an exhaustive list though. To truly look at the whole of literature, one must include personal letters, comics, written interviews; anything with which one has the purpose of placing into written text. Therefore, the list could be immense.
That being said, some define literature as only those texts which are superbly written and have the ability to survive. This certainly dilutes the previously stated list to only a handful of pieces.
Literature may also be define as a group of things. Literature exists on psychology, literature exists on history, literature exists in math. What is meant by this is all of the writings grouped together on a specific area or thought.
Regardless of what ones personal definition of literature is, know that many more choose to either expand the list or subtract from it. Remember, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and only you can define what true literature is.
Literature, to me is any written prose. Some would consider literature to be limited to only classical novels and poetry, however.
Most definitions of literature have been criterial definitions, definitions based on a list ofcriteria which all literary works must meet. However, more current theories of meaningtake the view that definitions are based on prototypes: there is broad agreement aboutgood examples that meet all of the prototypical characteristics, and other examples arerelated to the prototypes by family resemblance. For literary works, prototypicalcharacteristics include careful use of language, being written in a literary genre (poetry,prose fiction, or drama), being read aesthetically, and containing many weakimplicatures.Understanding exactly what literature is has always been a challenge; pinning down adefinition has proven to be quite difficult. In fact, at times one seems to be reduced to saying, “Iknow it when I see it,” or perhaps, “Anything is literature if you want to read it that way.”Sometimes the motivation for a particular definition seems like the work of copyright lawyers,aimed primarily at stopping people from using the word ‘literature’ for works which have notbeen licensed as literature by…well, by The Critics, by the keepers of the tradition, by “all highschool English teachers,” and so on. Almost no one is now so naive as to think that The Critics,the high school teachers, or anyone else has a monolithic front on the question—yet mostdiscussions seem to veer either towards an authoritarian definition based on certain criticalassumptions, or towards a definition based solely on whatever a particular reader chooses to callliterature.
literature is a mirror of life. it simply means in gujarati language tht 'sahitya' wch means 'sa'+'hitay' which means for the wellfare of the whole human race.......
it's also commonly known as the 'mirror of the society' as it majorly reflects the face of society in it... literature origins from society and the affairs that emerges in society and the real life.