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The works of the great English novelist Charles Dickens (1812–70) were originally published in monthly instalments. This is the...Read More >>The works of the great English novelist Charles Dickens (1812–70) were originally published in monthly instalments. This is the cover to one instalment of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Literature is the art of the written word. Literature has two main forms: fiction (make-believe) and non-fiction (fact). It is written in either prose or poetry. The word literature itself means “things made from letters”. Generally referring to creative, inventive writing, literature takes many different forms, including novels (long stories in prose that describe fictional characters and events), biographies (stories of someone's life—sometimes that of the writer: an autobiography), essays (works that put across an author's opinion about something), plays and poems.


 

A sculpture, possibly of Gilgamesh, at the Louvre Museum, Paris

The first literature

One of the world’s first works of literature was the Epic of Gilgamesh, an epic poem from Mesopotamia, written down first in the Sumerian language. It tells of Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, and his friendship with Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods. Other early literary works include the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a collection of magic spells to assist a dead person through the underworld, dating back to around 1700 BC, and the Rigveda, an ancient Indian collection of sacred hymns, probably dating to the 1500s BC. 

French author Georges Perec’s 1969 novel La disparition (The Void) was written without using a single word that included the letter "e". Perec then published Les revenentes in 1972, in which "e" is the only vowel used.

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