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.
And indeed its central meaning, at least, is clear enough.
Deriving from the Latin , “a letter of the alphabet,” literature is first and foremost humankind’s entire body of writing; after that it is the body of writing belonging to a given language or people; then it is individual pieces of writing.
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is known to every American schoolchild.
Today, however, oratory is more usually thought of as a craft than as an art.
The oratory of the American Indian, for instance, is famous, while in Classical Greece, Polymnia was the muse sacred to poetry and oratory.
Rome’s great orator Cicero was to have a decisive influence on the development of English prose style.
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.