What is literature?
So I did my search and came upon this definition of literature- "Literature is a term used to describe written or spoken material"- Esther Lombardi, About.com
The word literature did not come to designate the body of imaginative text till the late 18th century. In Latin Littera means letters and as etymology suggests literature is anything written.
So I became happy for a while, deriving meaning of literature from its etymology and the definition of literature by Lombardi but my happiness did not last very long. I soon came upon another definition by Erza Pound-" Literature is the news that stays relevant" meaning those works of art or imagination that will be read years from now. Now this one is a gray area. How do we know then which books are great pieces of literature and which ones are not? It can be decided many years later only.
So I got further confused what constitutes literature and what not?
More search led me to the following definition by McFadden-
Literature is a canon which consists of those works in language by which a community defines itself through the course of its history.
Now let's look at some more definitions-
In a 1877 article in New York Times, Mr. Stopford Brooke says-"By literature we mean written thoughts and feelings of intelligent men and women arranged in a way which will give pleasure to the reader."
Some other viewpoints-
Professor Barry Laga - What is literature ?
Patrick Galloway- What is literature?
Myron Magnet- What use is Literature?
Stopford Brooke - What is Literature (pdf)
It seems that it is difficult to define "Literature" and therefore I would not like to wander in the vast universe of Literature but continue writing as well as I can, expressing my thoughts and feelings without bothering if they will be read after many years from now or not; or become part of the canon by which any society will identify.
I write because I can't do without it.
Some related Books-
"What is Literature and other essays" by John Paul Satre
Hindu Literary Review on Satre's book- 'What is Literature'