Literature is the artistic expression of thought, which is replete with feelings and imagination. It is expressed in such untechnical form as to make it eligible and give aesthetic pleasure and relief to the mind of the common men. In other words, literature heightens our awareness of human life. It enables us to look at nature with new eyes. It interprets with charm of language the experiences and spiritual intuitions of man. Whenever thought is embodied in forms that appeal to our ideals, sensibilities and tastes rather than in forms that appear merely or mainly to the speculative reason or the logical faculty, literature may be said to exist. In a nutshell, thought, feeling, imagination and beauty of style and form, are all equally essential to literature.
Literature is one of the instruments, in fact, one of the most influential instruments to mold characters – characters armed with reason and equipped by knowledge, dressed in resoluteness and valor, and motivated by that common essence and virtue of which it has been said that they are ornaments of the mind of man. Bacon is right, when he bides us read not to contradict and refute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and to consider.
Thus, literature enables us to weigh and to consider our values.
Literature consists of all the books wherein there is a pursuit of some sort of largeness and attraction of form regarding moral truth and human emotions. A literary admirer is one who explores the journey of human moral reasoning and gratification through books and writings.
Poets, dramatists, humorists, satirists, masters of fiction, the great preachers, the character-writers, the maxim writers, the great political orators – they are all men of literature in so far as they teach us to know man and to know human nature.
This is what makes literature, rightly sifted and selected and rightly studied, not the mere elegant trifling that it is so often and so erroneously supposed to be but a proper instrument for a systematic training of the imagination and sympathies and of a genial and varied moral sensibility.
Literature in its most comprehensive meaning includes all the activities of the human soul in general, or within a particular sphere, period, country, or language and therefore suggests some hidden truth and beauty to the human senses. So in literature, which is the art that expresses life in words that appeal to our own sense of the beautiful, we have many writers but few artists. In the broadest sense, perhaps, literature means simply the written records of the race, including all its history and sciences, as well as its poems and novels; in the narrower sense, literature is the artistic record of life, and most of our writing is excluded from it, just as the mass of our buildings, mere shelters from storm and from cold, are excluded from architecture. A history or a work of science may be and sometimes is literature, but only as we forget the subject-matter and the presentation of facts in the simple beauty of its expression.
Literature appeals to our emotions and imagination rather than to our intellect. It is not so much what it says at what it awakens in us that constitutes its charm.
Literature possesses a universality. It is powerful enough to supersede the narrow interests of a class in favor of humanity as a whole. It does not deal with the specific society of a specific community, but with the society of man as a whole. For this reason, the literature that appealed to the people through the spoken word has a greater appeal than that which appeals through the written word-which may not reach all men. Universality in literature connotes the appeal to the widest human interests and the simplest human emotions.
Literature has close connection with life. In fact, literature is the study of life, the subject matter of literature is the presentation of life. Life provides the raw material by which literature interfuses an artistic pleasure, pattern and form. Literature is the communication of the writer's novel and unique experiences of life. Thus, there is the vital and intimate connection between literature and life which is inseparable. Life is not a simple phase. It possesses both depth and comprehensiveness. So, literature manifests the certain problems of life.
It is the representation of social life. The quality of literature is intimately connected with the quality of life that it reflects. Literature is always a reflection of life which presupposes a social background.
Unfortunately, our country Afghanistan has not been able to dedicate much attention to its literature. Though it has a very rich history in this regard, in the recent few decades it has not been able to devote much attention to it because of insecurity and continuous conflicts and wars. It is really important that Afghan authorities and people must not neglect it and value it as much as possible because it would ultimately describe our history and define our society and identity.