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Charles Dickens

Perhaps the greatest English novelist

The Muse of Literature Welcomes You
Keats is to poetry what Schubert is to music.
—ETAF Staff








Writers on literature

Ah, words! they're not just for breakfast anymore...

I would call back at least for literature this world of shadows we are losing. In the mansion called literature I would have the eves deep and the walls dark, I would push back into the shadows the things that come forward too clearly, I would strip away the useless decoration. I do not ask that this be done everywhere, but perhaps we may be allowed at least one mansion where we can turn off the electric lights and see how it is without them.

Tanizaki Junichiro, 1886-1965
from In Praise of Shadows, 1934



It would be exaggerating to say that our relationship is hostile; I live, I let myself live, so that Borges can weave his literature and that literature justifies me. ... I don't know which of us is writing this page.

Jorge Luis Borges, 1899-1986
from Personal Anthology, 1961. Borges and Myself


Stuff the head
With all such reading as was never read:
For thee explain a thing until all men doubt it,
And write about it, Goddess, and about it.

Alexander Pope, 1688-1744
from The Dunciad, 1728-1743








about this feature

In this feature, The Muse explores works of literature, their authors, and the worlds—real and imaginary—in which these works and authors have their being.


These worlds are populated by real and fictional characters, societies, cultures, places, events, actions, histories, emotions, lives—a myriad of things that make up and have made up the literary writings of the past and present—all the things and more that writers have cared enough about to set down for readers to read and all the writings that readers have cared to pick up and read.

Despite the critical importance of writers, The Muse explores writing chiefly from the reader's perspective. The principal focus of this feature is reading and the reader, not the writing process or the writer. The aim is to travel along with the reader as he reads, to assist by presenting facts and ideas that deepen the reader's understanding and appreciation of what he is reading, thereby heightening the reading experience.

the organization of this feature and of literary subjects generally

Has the way literary subjects are organized and taught in schools ever struck you as a bit ironic? Since writers write in order to be read and to be admired by readers, one might think the reader would be the focus of instruction. But in schools, the focus tends to be on the writer, not the reader. Why does this sort of thing happen?


What is literature?well, there's literature and there's literature...

What's literature? What's the subject of this feature?

The question has been debated for a long, long time in many, many circles and the jury is still out.

As a first answer, by today's lights literature is not only high-sounding writing; it can be any kind of printed material, such as circulars, leaflets, or handbills.

This answer is valid. In this feature, The Muse is not limiting the scope of this exploration; the muse is concerned with all kinds of literature, from Literature with a capital "L" to literature with a small "l."

However, the distinction between Literature and literature is valid; there are vital distinctions to be made between literature of lasting value and some kinds of everyday literature. What does The Muse mean by Literature with a capital "L"?

  • To explore what The Muse means by Literature," read on. Your welcome to literature continues on the next page: click here.

eTAF recommends



the muse of literature wants your complete attention

Visit The Muse Of Literature Index for a list of all the sections belonging to The Muse of Literature: click here.


This feature spans two pages; it continues on Page 2.

To see other pages, click a page number at the bottom of each page or click in the Feature Pages box near the top of the column at the right.

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