Posted in literature

Characteristics of literature as entertainment

One of literature’s main goals is to entertain. The literature branch devoted to this goal is known as commercial literature or, to give it a better name, entertaining literature. Several genres and subgenres are part of it such as crime fiction, thriller, romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc.

Of course classic literature and literature in general is entertaining but it is not its main goal or is it designed for that purpose. Its main objective is to artistically portrait human condition and research about it in its various times and spaces. Many times entertainment is sacrificed in sake of exploring deep aspects of the human race and portraying a specific view of it and its society, providing a more artistic and intellectual pleasure to its readers.

However it cannot be said that entertaining literature does not inquire about human condition nor artistically depict it.  Because it discusses human beings it necessarily does (even when narrating stories about beings from other species, as in fantasy or science fiction, because it anthropomorphizes them or, by contrast, makes us see humans from other angle) if to a lesser extent, giving up that aspect in order to provide entertainment with greater emphasis.

Clearly within this classification some books tend to the ends and others to the middle.

In any case, whenever we write crime fiction, thriller, science fiction, romance, etc. we should constantly remind ourselves that our purpose is to entertain the reader.

Concrete differences between entertaining literature (or commercial literature) and literature in general

The differences I will list in the next post are also differences of scale. This means that a certain difference is not exclusive to entertaining literature but in general it is more important to it though it can also be found in literature in general.

Posted in literature

The genres of the lyric poetry

The different types or species of lyrical poetry are differentiated mainly through their form; in other words, they have different styles of prosody, but not different thematic.

Greek lyric literature comprises three main genres: iambic, melic and elegiac poetry.

  1. a) Elegiac poetry:

This type of compositions was usually sung with the accompaniment of a wood flute.

In time, it lost the accompaniment of music and was simply recited. Moreover, its thematic widened, so that it did not comprise only songs of mourning, but the entire variety of human concerns.

Thus, we can find elegies of war among the works of Callinus and Tyrtaeus, erotic elegies by Mimnermus and Theognis of Megara, political by Solon, festive by Xenophanes of Colophon, gnomic (containing maxims and aphorisms) by Theognis of Megara, commemorative etc.

  1. b) Iambic poetry

The metric form used by this type of compositions is the iambus.

The iambus is a four-syllable metrical foot; in odd iambuses (the first, third, fifth etc.), the first syllable can be long, but in the even ones (second, fourth etc.) it has to be short, because even iambuses set the rhythm.

These poems have a fast pace. Apparently, they first appeared as songs related to the worship of Demeter and Dionysus, in which humor, satire and eroticism were basic elements.

The thematic of iambic poems included: attacks on the politicians, the literati and the customs of the age. It also included burlesque and erotic elements.

Originally, iambic poems were sung, but in time the music was reduced to a simple instrument that was played to accompany the recitation.

Among the most famous iambic poets, we name Archilochus, Semonides of Amorgos and Hipponax.