Literary text

We explain what a literary text is and the types that exist. In addition, its characteristics and examples.

What is a literary text?

A literary text is an oral or written composition by one or several authors using language to convey a specific message or story. This type of text focuses on the aesthetic function of language rather than its functional purpose and manipulates resources and structures to relate to real or imaginary universes through words.

Literary texts offer the reader subjective, free, reflective, experiential or contemplative approaches and emphasize language to relate situations and convey emotions and sensations.

The authors of artistic texts use expressive devices, tropes, rhetorical figures or literary figures to enrich the text. In addition, they use language in powerful, moving and rhythmic ways.

In ancient Greece, the literary cradle of the West, the first scholarly analysis of history was made (AAristotle’sPoetics), and literary texts were classified into dramatic, epic, and lyrical.

Currently, there are many types of literary texts and reading is considered a leisure and recreation activity that, due to its profound human content, occupies a central place in the imagination of the human being.

Characteristics of a literary text

A literary text has the following characteristics:

  • Purpose. Literary texts usually have an aesthetic sense and convey a message, teaching, or emotions through language. Its primary goal is to embellish a text and offer it to the reader, either as entertainment or as a way of contemplating the use and resources of language.
  • Language. Literary texts use language in various ways and resources, such as metaphors, comparisons, personifications and ellipses, to impact the reader or describe reality in a new and subjective way. The language used in a literary text will vary according to each author, the language and the type of text. Literary texts use language as a form of expression, and the author has the freedom to create from it.
  • Contents. Literary texts recount imaginary or actual events from fictional, impossible or novel perspectives. They express deep subjective or philosophical content, and the author has the freedom to create worlds and fictionalize them. Literary texts are plausible; they add the reader to the reality they propose.
  • Extension. Literary texts have different extensions according to each genre. For example, short stories are shorter than novels.
    Support. Literary texts are usually transmitted in written form through digital formats or physical media, such as magazines and books. In addition, they can be transmitted orally to an audience.
  • Weather. Literary texts endure over time and are part of the literary tradition that brings together all known readers in the history of humanity. Some of these texts become milestones and are works recognized by their form, content or structure.

Types of literary texts

Literary texts are classified, based on their structure or characteristics, into four main literary genres:

  • Narrative genre. It is made up of literary texts in which emphasis is placed on the characters, on the plot and, above all, on the figure of the narrator, who is the one who tells the story. Some examples of this genre are the short story, the novel, the short story, the chronicle, the legend, the myth, and the fable, among others.
  • Lyric. It is made up of texts with different formats and structures that usually describe a subjective state of being: feelings, life perspectives, reflections or even a certain degree of narration. They emphasize the aesthetic aspect of the word and use resources or rhetorical figures to convey their message. Some examples of this genre are poems, sonnets, odes, and couplets.
  • Drama. It is made up of texts intended to be performed in theatre, film or television. The dramatic genre uses the characters’ dialogue and usually does without a narrator. Some examples of this genre are comedy, tragedy and drama.
    Didactic genre. It comprises texts intended to teach something or convey a specific message or opinion to the reader. Some examples of this genre are essay, biography, oratory, among others.

Types and examples of narrative texts

Some types of narrative texts are:

1) Micro-story. It is a text written in prose, characterized by being very brief and narratively telling a story using ellipsis. For example:

“he mirror that could not sleep”  “by Augusto Monterroso.o Once upon a time, there was a hand mirror that when he was left alone, and no one saw himself in it, he felt the worst, as if it did not exist, and perhaps he was right. Still, the other mirrors made fun of him, and when they kept them in the same dresser drawer, they slept soundly satisfied at night, oblivious to the nneurotic’sconcern.
In “divine”  “by Jorge Luis Borgeson Sumatra, someone wants to get a doctorate as a fortune teller. The examining sorcerer asks if he will fail or if he will pass. The candidate replies that he will be disapproved…

2) Tale. It is a short text written in prose with a plot involving characters in a defined time and space. For example:

“”inderella””by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Tom Thumb by Charles Perrault.
“the Black Cat”  “by Edgar Allan Poe.
“sadness”  “by Anton Chekhov.
“the assassins”  “by Ernest Hemingway.
“House Taken Over” by Julio Cortázar.
“reunion”  “by John Cheever.

3) Novel. It is a text written in prose that narrates facts and differs from the story because it is longer and has a more complex plot with the participation of a narrator, characters and several spaces. For example:

“Don Quixote de la Mancha” by Miguel de Cervantes.
“ride and Prejudice”  “by Jane Austen.
Herman MMelville’sMoby-Dick.
“rime and Punishment”  “by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
“ar and Peace”  “by Leo Tolstoy.
“Ulysses”  “by James Joyce.
“984”  “by George Orwell.
“The Catcher in the Rye”  “by J. D. Salinger.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.
“harry Potter”  “by J.K. Rowling.

4) Myth. It is a fictional story that tells a story or adventure starring gods, demigods or humans to whom divine characteristics are attributed. For example:

“Romuluss and Remus and the founding of Rome”
“The Myth of Sisyphus.”
“The Myth of the Minotaur.”
“The Myth of Prometheus.”
“Icarus and Daedalus”.

5) Fable. In most cases, it is a story starring animals that tells a story that seeks to leave a moral or teaching. For example:

“peter and the wolf.”
“heharese and the Tortoise.”
“he fox and the grapes”
“he lion and the Mouse.”
“the Ant and the Grasshopper.”

Examples of lyrical texts

Some types of poetic texts are:

1) Poem. It is a composition in verse or prose that uses poetic resources to convey an emotion or experience. For example:

“La aurora” by Federico García LorcaLa aurora de Nueva York has
four columns of silt
and a hurricane of black doves
That splash the rotten waters. The dawn of New York moans
up the huge stairs
searching between the edges
drawn distress spikenards.

The dawn arrives, and nobody receives it in their mouth
because there is no tomorrow and no possible hope.
Sometimes the coins, in raging swarms
pierce and devour abandoned children.

The first ones out understand with their bones
that there will be no paradise or leafless loves;
They know that they go to the hundred of numbers and laws,
to games without art, to fruitless sweat.

Chains and noise bury the light
in the bold challenge of rootless science.
In the neighbourhoods, some people waver insomniacs
As fresh from a shipwreck of blood.

2) Sonnet. It is a poetic composition usually composed of four stanzas, the first two of four lines and the last two or three. Use poetic devices and rhyme. For example:

“constant love beyond death”  “by Francisco de Quevedo. Closing my eyes will be able to last
the shadow that I will take the white day,
and you can untie this soul of mine
an hour to his anxious eagerness flattering; but not, from that other part, on the shore,
will leave the memory where it burned:
swimming knows my flame in the cold water,
And lose respect for strict law.

Soul to whom all a prison god has been,
veins that humour to so much fire have given,
marrows that have gloriously burned,

the body of him will leave, not the care of him;
they will be ashes, but it will make sense;
they will be dust, more dust in love.

3) Ode. It is a poetic composition that includes reflections, and initially, it used to be sung. For example:

“de to age” by Pablo Neruda (excerpt) I do not believe in age. All the old
They carry
In the eyes
and children
they watch us
like profound elders.

We will measure
by meters or kilometres
or months?
So long since you were born?
How many
you must walk
like everyone
instead of walking over it
LLet’srest, under the ground?

4) Elegy. It is a poetic composition in which a loss or misfortune is lamented. For example:

“interruptedd elegy” by Octavio Paz (excerpt.) Today I remember the dead in my house.
We never forget the first death,
even if he dies of lightning, so fast
that he does not reach the bed or the oil paintings.
I hear the cane hesitating on a step,
the body that takes hold in a sigh,
the door that opens, the dead that enters.
From a door to die, there is little space
and there is hardly time to sit,
raise your face, see the time
and find out: a quarter past eight.

Today I remember the death of my house.
The one that died the night after night
and it was a long farewell,
a train that never leaves, his agony.
the greed of the mouth
in the thread of a suspended sigh,
eyes that ddon’tclose and beckon
and wander from the lamp to my eyes,
the fixed gaze that embraces another,
alien, who suffocates in the embrace
and at last, he escapes and sees from the shore
how the soul sinks and loses body
and ccan’tfind eyes to cling to…
And he invited me to die that look?
Maybe we die just because no one
wants to die with us, nobody
He wants to look us in the eye.

Examples of dramatic texts

Some dramatic texts are:

1) Tragedy. It is a dramatic work starring characters exposed to an unexpected, tragic or unfortunate situation. For example:

“Oedipus the King”  “by Sophocles.
“Medea” by Euripides.
“he Supplicants”  “by Aeschylus.
Hamlet by William Shakespeare.
“Blood Wedding” by Federico García Lorca.

2) Comedy. It is a literary work that seeks to entertain and make the reader or public laugh and has a happy ending. For example:

“the trickster of of Seville”  “by Tirso de Molina.
MMoliere’s””he Miser””MMoliere’sTartuffe.
“”he Dog in the Manger””by Lope de Vega.
“Midsummer NNight’sDream”  “by William Shakespeare.

Literary text and non-literary text

Literary texts are distinguished from non-literary readers in a fundamental aspect: their aesthetic purpose. Authors create literary texts without a concrete, practical utility; on the contrary, they seek to use language to convey thoughts, sensations or stories. The reader, for his part, consumes this type of text to admire the language as a form of entertainment and to obtain a subjective experience.

On the other hand, non-literary texts are all created with an evident meaning and with a specific purpose, which is usually to transmit certain information so that the reader knows it. For example, Instructions for using a washing machine, a cooking recipe, a billboard or a newspaper article.

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