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For historical treatment of various literatures within geographical regions, such articles as African literature; African theatre; Oceanic literature; Western literature; Central Asian arts; South Asian arts; and Southeast Asian arts.
Certain scientific works endure as literature long after their scientific content has become outdated.This is particularly true of books of natural history, where the element of personal observation is of special importance.An excellent example is Gilbert White’s Oratory, the art of persuasion, was long considered a great literary art.Most critics would not admit advertising copywriting, purely commercial fiction, or cinema and television scripts as accepted forms of literary expression, although others would hotly dispute their exclusion.The test in individual cases would seem to be one of enduring satisfaction and, of course, truth.Most of it is fugitive, but here and there—in high-level journalism, in television, in the cinema, in commercial fiction, in westerns and detective stories, and in plain, expository prose—some writing, almost by accident, achieves an aesthetic satisfaction, a depth and relevance that entitle it to stand with other examples of the art of literature.
If the early Egyptians or Sumerians had critical theories about the writing of literature, these have not survived.
Certain forms of writing, however, are universally regarded as belonging to literature as an art.
Individual attempts within these forms are said to succeed if they possess something called artistic merit and to fail if they do not.
Some are in a highly polished literary style; others, couched in a privately evolved language, win their standing as literature because of their cogency, insight, depth, and scope.
Many works of of the 2nd-century Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius are a collection of apparently random thoughts, and the Greek in which they are written is eccentric.
All of the world’s classic surveys of history can stand as noble examples of the art of literature, but most historical works and studies today are not written primarily with literary excellence in mind, though they may possess it, as it were, by accident.