Art, Literature, and the Carriers of Civilization

Essay by xxxnozzHigh School, 12th gradeB, November 2014

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Taim Awad

Ms. Mocarski

A.P. British Literature


Art, Literature, and the Carriers of Civilization.

In 1848, Thomas de Quincey wrote an essay titled "The Literature of Knowledge and the Literature of Power." De Quincey was a 19th century British author. He is well known for "Confessions of an English Opium Eater." In his essay, he divides literature - books to be precise, into two separate roles: the literature of knowledge which conveys information that has a clear use (such as a cookbook), and literature of power which is more abstract, and enriches the reader in more intangible ways. In its simplest form, literature is a term used to describe written or spoken material. However, after exploring the ideas and works of authors such as Thomas de Quincey, Vladimir Nabokov, and Francine Prose, I have come to a conclusion that literature is definitely more than that. It must be. Reading their great works gives us a vivid image of what literature, writing, and reading is.

The works of these three authors, when explored chronologically, poses a series of questions: What IS literature? What makes a great reader? How can I apply this to my writings? Literature, with all its intangibilities, opens a gateway to the genius of reading and writing.

In essence, literature is a domain of many diverse outputs. Literature cannot be simply defined, as every single work portrays it differently. Literature is very intangible in its dynamical behavior, where it can change from one work to another. In 1667, 17th century English author John Milton published his epic poem Paradise Lost. It illustrates the Biblical story of the Fall OF Man, the war in heaven, and Satan's deceit. His purpose is to "justify the ways of God to men." At first, Homer, known as the greatest of Greek...