Philippine Literature

What is Literature?

Literature is written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit which includes books and writings published on a particular subject or leaflets and other printed matter used to advertise products or give advice.

Literature in the Philippines

Philippine Literature is a diverse and rich group of works that has evolved side-by-side with the country’s history. Literature had started with fables and legends made by the ancient Filipinos long before the arrival of Spanish influence. The main themes of Philippine literature focus on the country’s pre-colonial cultural traditions and the socio-political histories of its colonial and contemporary traditions.

Literary Forms

Genres of literature are important to learn about. The two main categories separating the different genres of literature are fiction and nonfiction. There are several genres of literature that fall under the nonfiction category. Nonfiction sits in direct opposition to fiction. Examples from both the fiction and nonfiction genres of literature are explained in detail below.

Types of Nonfiction:

  • Narrative Nonfiction is information based on fact that is presented in a format which tells a story.
  • Essays are a short literary composition that reflects the author’s outlook or point. A short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative.
  • Biography is a written account of another person’s life.
  • An Autobiography gives the history of a person’s life, written or told by that person. Often written in Narrative form of their person’s life.
  • Speech is the faculty or power of speaking; oral communication; ability to express one’s thoughts and emotions by speech, sounds, and gesture. Generally delivered in the form of an address or discourse.

Genres of Fiction:

  • Drama is the genre of literature that’s subject for compositions is dramatic art in the way it is represented. This genre is stories composed in verse or prose, usually for theatrical performance, where conflicts and emotion are expressed through dialogue and action.
  • Poetry is verse and rhythmic writing with imagery that evokes an emotional response from the reader. The art of poetry is rhythmical in composition, written or spoken. This genre of literature is for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts.
  • Fantasy is the forming of mental images with strange or other worldly settings or characters; fiction which invites suspension of reality.
  • Humor is the faculty of perceiving what is amusing or comical. Fiction full of fun, fancy, and excitement which meant to entertain. This genre of literature can actually be seen and contained within all genres.
  • Fable is a story about supernatural or extraordinary people Usually in the form of narration that demonstrates a useful truth. In Fables, animals often speak as humans that are legendary and supernatural tales.
  • Fairy Tales or wonder tales are a kind of folktale or fable. Sometimes the stories are about fairies or other magical creatures, usually for children
  • Science Fiction is a story based on impact of potential science, either actual or imagined. Science fiction is one of the genres of literature that is set in the future or on other planets.
  • Short Story is fiction of such briefness that is not able to support any subplots.
  • Realistic Fiction is a story that can actually happen and is true to real life.
  • Folklore are songs, stories, myths, and proverbs of a person of “folk” that was handed down by word of mouth. Folklore is a genre of literature that is widely held, but false and based on unsubstantiated beliefs.
  • Historical Fiction is a story with fictional characters and events in a historical setting.
  • Horror is an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by literature that is frightfully shocking, terrifying, or revolting. Fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread in both the characters and the reader.
  • Tall Tale is a humorous story with blatant exaggerations, swaggering heroes who do the impossible with an here of nonchalance.
  • Legend is a story that sometimes of a national or folk hero. Legend is based on fact but also includes imaginative material.
  • Mystery is a genre of fiction that deals with the solution of a crime or the unraveling of secrets. Anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown.
  • Mythology is a type of legend or traditional narrative. This is often based in part on historical events, that reveals human behavior and natural phenomena by its symbolism; often pertaining to the actions of the gods. A body of myths, as that of a particular people or that relating to a particular person.
  • Fiction in Verse is full-length novels with plot, subplots, themes, with major and minor characters. Fiction of verse is one of the genres of literature in which the narrative is usually presented in blank verse form.

Literary Criticisms

Literature is viewed in different angles more than what the purpose of the author of writing such piece. As such, a literary piece could be viewed as a part of the author’s life or part of the history where he lives. Different literary theories have been pushed by different people who study literature. These literary theories are being used by critiques to reveal the implied meaning of a literary piece. This is called the literary criticism. There are no laws on how a literary piece should be viewed because not all of these literary criticisms fit and would uncover all literary piece. Whereas, a certain literary piece can be interpreted using multiple literary theories. These literary theories are universal. Any literary form can be criticized using at least one literary theory, a piece as short as haiku or a novel can be critiqued using the same literary theory. There is no such thing as standards in doing a literary critique but there are devised questions commonly asked by literary critique. These questions serve as a guide for those who will dive into the implied meaning of a certain literary piece. There are a few and most commonly used kinds of literary theories that are still being used nowadays. Each of them has its own unique features that will help a literary critique decide if it fits to a specific literary piece.

In academic studies of literature, they sought which literary theory would best fit a specific type of literature by criticizing a literary piece using multiple literary theories. This would help each literary enthusiast uncover the meaning of literature to apply in different real-life situations.

The Purpose of Literature

While others have still vague understanding why there are people who spend their life in studying literature, there are various reasons why study literature and the application of literature in real life. The most common use of literature is for entertainment. These forms of literature are often use in shows and performances presented to the public.

Why do we need to study Philippine Literature?

  • Whatever nationality you are it is always very important to study the literature of your country. In doing so you are not only learning about the historical aspects of your land, but you are also keeping alive the thoughts, beliefs and cultural variations of your ancestors that differentiate your country from the rest of the world.
  • A country’s literature also tells us about its civilization in a form other than straight fact. Literature is usually one person’s description of a situation told through their own personal feelings; eyewitness testimony to historical events that we were not present at.  Writers have a talent for bringing the past back to life with emotive language and metaphor, helping us to imagine scenarios that may have happened decades, or even centuries, ago.
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