Literature, as an art form, can also include works in various non-fiction genres, such as biography, diaries, memoir, letters, and essays. Within its broad definition, literature includes non-fictional books, articles or other printed information on a particular subject.
Etymologically, the term derives from Latin literatura/litteratura “learning, a writing, grammar,” originally “writing formed with letters,” from litera/littera “letter”. In spite of this, the term has also been applied to spoken or sung texts. Literature is often referred to synecdochically as “writing,” and poetically as “the craft of writing” or simply “the craft.” Syd Field described his discipline, screenwriting, as “a craft that occasionally rises to the level of art.”
Around the 4th millennium BC, the complexity of trade and administration in Mesopotamia outgrew human memory, and writing became a more dependable method of recording and presenting transactions in a permanent form. Though in both ancient Egypt and Mesoamerica, writing may have already emerged because of the need to record historical and environmental events. Subsequent innovations included more uniform, predictable, legal systems, sacred texts, and the origins of modern practices of scientific inquiry and knowledge-consolidation, all largely reliant on portable and easily reproducible forms of writing.
Early written literature
Main articles: History of literature, Ancient literature, and History of books
Ancient Egyptian literature, along with Sumerian literature, are considered the world’s oldest literatures. The primary genres of the literature of ancient Egypt—didactic texts, hymns and prayers, and tales—were written almost entirely in verse; By the Old Kingdom (26th century BC to 22nd century BC), literary works included funerary texts, epistles and letters, hymns and poems, and commemorative autobiographical texts recounting the careers of prominent administrative officials. It was not until the early Middle Kingdom (21st century BC to 17th century BC) that a narrative Egyptian literature was created.