Literature in e-book

30-04-2014, 16:17Print
The word literature, coming from Latin litteratura, appears at the beginning of the xiie century with a technical sense of " written thing " then evolves at the end of the Middle Ages towards sense of «knowledge drawn of books», before attaining in ebook centuries its current main sense: all the written or oral writings including an aesthetic dimension (eg: Another story of ebook literature) or activity participating in their development (eg: «Dedicate itself to literature»).

Literature indeed defines itself as a particular aspect of verbal communication — oral or written — who puts into play a working of the resources of the language to multiply effects on the addressee, that he is reader or listener. Literature — borders of which are necessarily vague and variable according to personal evaluations — is therefore characterised, not by its support and its types, but its aesthetic function: the format of the message takes it on the contents, exceeding so the utilitarian communication limited to the transmission of even complex information. Today, literature is linked to the civilisation of books by which speak to us with hindsight the authors, but it also concerns various forms of oral expression as tale (in full resurgence since around thirty years in the Western countries), the traditional poem of the people without writing — the distant cousins of which our songs are — or the theatre, intended to be received across voice and body of the actors. Numerical technology however is transforming perhaps the traditional support of literature and its nature.

The concept of literature was regularly reappraised by the writers as by critics and the theoreticians: it is particularly true since the end of the xixe century when they tried to redefine - as for art - functions of literature (for example with notion of commitment for Sartre, Which literature?) and its nature (reflexion on the writing and the reading of Roland Barthes or studies of the linguists as Novel Jakobson) and to renew aesthetic criteria (the of «It is necessary to be absolutely modern» of Rimbaud in the new novel by way of the surrealism, for example).

It remains that, rich in its definite diversity without border as much as in its subjects continuously revitalised which say condition human, literature is first meeting between the one who, by its words, said himself and his world, and the one who receives and shares this exposure. Literature appears therefore as a necessary profération, a bet in words where receives the deep requirement of the author which leads him to say and to tell itself.


Ebook word "literature" comes from a Latin word litteratura diverted from littera, "letter", in the sense of graphic sign serving for transcribing a language.

The Gaffiot dictionary spots an evolution of the sense of Latin word: it indicates first (example of e book, ier century before Christ) group of letters constituting fact to write or group of letters constituted in (Tacit) alphabet; sense widens then in the century to that of grammar, of philology, that is to say in the technical and erudite study of the written texts, to lead with Tertullien at the beginning of the iiie century to the sense of knowledge, of erudition in the field of the written texts.

First certificates in ebook
According to e book word is certified at the beginning of the century with the first Latin sense of «written thing». Word« literature »finds the sense of late Latin« erudition, knowledge acquired by books» that at the end.

Evolution of sense in centuries of e-books

Nicolas Boileau, man of feather and of theory
According to the word "literature" keeps general acceptation of «knowledge got by books» up to the new century: they say then «credit of literature» as they say today «credit of culture», this one recuperating all domains of general knowledge; so in 1699, Fontenelle introduces mathematics as «a type of literature».

But in the second half of the century, at the same time as non-specialised acceptation, word applies more and more to a restrained knowledge, that of "literature" linked to nice language. This sliding explains by the social evolution of elites under Louis where is established the notion of the honest man, capable in a refined social made life by cultural promoted practices as knowledge of literary writings, particularly those of antiquity who feed the classical theatre while the poets exploit types defined by Aristote as epic poem.

In the xviiie century the word "literature" completely became synonymous with "literature", that is to say with writings admitted by tasteful people and constituting the society culture of epoch formed by a better education and by the world of literary salons and of academies; so for Voltaire: «Literature indicates in all Europe knowledge of tasteful works». Another example shows that the word "literature" with its today's common sense is installed well from now on in the middle of the century of the Enlightenment: in 1753 Charles Batteux announces his work «Court of literature, or Principles of literature» and reissues it in 1764 by keeping only «Principles of literature». The same year appears «The school of literature» of the abbot Laporte whose subtitle of the 2nd part is unambiguous: Particular rules of every type of Literature in Prose and in poetry.


Caricature of the accursed poet
Word evolves still slowly from 1750 towards the broader sense of "written linguistic creation" leaving a growing place in the subjective judgement liberated from restrictive aesthetic criteria: such will be more late the romantic conception of the free creative poet even if he must be an accursed poet, conception the préfigurait already in the preliminary Speech of the Encyclopaedia of Alembert maintaining that works of art raise mainly «of the invention which takes its Laws only of genius». Paul defines similarly in 1820s a literary work as «produced by instinct and feeling of the nice» therefore by the feeling of the author and not necessarily that of the establishment.

Modern sense

ebook poets of the new century.
By modern sense became common sense: word "literature" applies to texts in which they grant an aesthetic quality which it is possible to discuss, that it is about the judgement of an institution of learnt expressing common taste but also of the author or the individual reader: it is job that in fact madam de Staël in her emblematic work «Of literature».

In the middle of the xixe century the grammarian Bernard Jullien still differentiates "literature" and "grammar": for him, the ultimate top of «high grammar» shows since the description of the mechanisms of the language to approach criteria of the nice in the stylistic and definite aspect of texts. The literature which «class and studies works (being of an interest of style) »go beyond: it takes care of study and of question setting on the bottom, on the contents of writings, for example approached topics and points of view chosen by the authors, what excludes interferences of course never with morality as show it trials made at the same time in Baudelaire and Flaubert for attack in public decency. Soon "grammar »will limit itself to the description of the language, becoming a tool for the literature which will take care of observation and in the evaluation of the definite aspects as contents of writings. It is possible to note that new "sciences" as stylistics or linguistics will take back in the second half of the xxe century this role of high grammar in the study of texts.


The daughter of reading Louis

The woman in the book became a topos of the portrait in painting
Finally, the field of "literature" widens in the xxe century in all written productions, not without debates on the literary cannons: contents (sentimentalism of the novels of railway station, pornography and erotism) are discussed as well as form (novel without punctuation, free poetry, automatic writing). They use therefore more and more categories refined as historical novel, literature of science fiction or they paralittérature, without removing disagreement on the literary skills of some types of writings as the novel of railway station, the photo-story or the comic strip. They also call into question the notion of literary type and of types of text as well as their organisation into a hierarchy as the writings of past (recent example: Selfish Charles Dantzig Dictionnaire of ebook literature, on 2005 are revalued).

Ebook questions in literature
Aesthetic and moral debates will besides be closed never all the more so as the ambition of the authors does not correspond necessarily with waitings of the readers, asking so the question of the vanguards which appear to every generation or almost since 1830 and all the more so as the literary movements reflect which succeeded one another as Romanticism, naturalism, décadentisme, Dadaism... Cutting up in historical periods or in linguistic regions made also debate and is conjugated with other lightings: differentiation of the authors according to sex (female literature), sexual orientation ("gay « literature), political approaches (communist literature), etc.

Literature wonders also regularly about its nature and about its role since the end of the xixe century in practice as in theorising. First especially centered on poem by the "modern" (Surrealists, Lettristes, Oulipo), reflexion came on the Novel with the New Novel in years 1950-1970 and «the epoch of suspicion» which calls into question the notion of character, the chronology, or on new types as autoinvention today, and also in the theatre (Antonin Artaud - theatre burst of Beckett or Ionesco). Debates so opened carried by the creators as by the academics and the critics, for example regarding link between work and author challenged by Proust against Sainte-Beuve, or regarding «death of the author» which proclaims Roland Barthes for whom the major place returns to the reader who rewrites the text for himself.

In fact «text», that is to say what makes that a text is literary, belongs to literature, central question is always: approaches as the structuralism with Roland Barthes, the narratologie of Gérard Genette, the stylistics, defined as a «linguistics of the effects of the message by Michael Riffaterre or the analysis of the diagramme of communication and functions of the language of Novel Jakobson try to build a technical and more objective approach of the texts which collides nevertheless with strong oppositions, for example that of Henry Meschonnic10.

Status of literature and of writer

The death of literature?
Literature also questions facing the competition of cinema, and of television and facing the recent usage of Technologies of information and of communication and of computer science in production and broadcasting of the texts which ask the more general question of the place of writings in the post-modern world. However, no doubt towards the future of literature: she derives from the Writing. And it is not possible to erase the role of the Writing, it replaces what is said, spoken, of oral way.

Finally, the men of letters (put to one side the dramatists or the songwriters who confront the world of stage and of musical broadcasting) exist traditionally only across the edition of their texts in work or in newspapers. Reports with the world of edition are therefore crucial for literature and writers who had to impose the notion of author parking work and the existence of royalties (right financiers and moral) following Beaumarchais, on the initiative of the Society of the authors and dramatic compositors, in 1777, and of Honoré de Balzac with its «Letter to the writers of the xixe century» appeared in the Magazine of Paris in 183411 which led in 1838 to the creation of Society of people of letters. However alone a number very limited by creators of literature can live on its feather, what continues asking the question of the status of the writer.

Sense, annexes and family of words
the first sense of «knowledge contained in books» continues in a sense when word indicates all the writings relating to a subject (ex; there is abundant one literature on the school - medical literature).
sense of the century resides: fact to produce literary writings or career in the writing (ex; literature does not feed his man – enter literature). He can also indicate: All body of people of letters (already in the dictionary) but expression the Republic of Letters is rather used.
word sometimes has a pejorative sense, underlining the vain and artificial character of a writings as in the famous poetry of Verlaine «And all the rest of it is literature.

Gustave Flaubert put 7 years to be written madams.
Words of the family:

the "literary" adjective exists since the century s but finds its place only at the beginning of the century to indicate what belongs to the knowledge drawn of books, to Letters as to Sciences. Very quickly he returns (as word literature) in literature, for example in jobs as "book society" or " literary newspaper ".
the name "man of letters " appears at the beginning to indicate somebody who takes care of literature.
verb in sense to make literature, rather pejorative or scoffing (example: Flaubert so that we have our ease for ebook at leisure - all these young ebook men of letters).

Popular Ebooks