(Some of you who have clicked here assumed that this was a review of Stephen King’s book. Sorry to disappoint you)
The earliest archaeological record of a human writing system is cuneiform, markings made on clay tablets created as early as 3500 BC. The primary purpose for this was record-keeping, although writing for religious and/or aesthetic purposes were embodied by the Sumerian epic poems, most notably Gilgamesh, which tells the story of a powerful god-like king.
Literary and writing traditions were inherited, modified, and spread. We know this due to influences in each type of literature that hearken to traditions of another culture, another style, another individual. Some types of literature may have developed independently, but as a whole, literature has been a product of traditions of individuals and entire cultures interacting with one another. Take poetry, for example. Classical Tang dynasty poetry is at once completely different and uncannily similar to sonnets of the Renaissance. Both contain rigid structures, strict guidelines, and yet the poet has complete reign in subject matter. It is only a matter of preference that dictates the poet’s subject.
The type of literature we (in the Western World) recognize most readily is Western Literature. It draws its roots from Classical Greek and Roman literature, as well as the Bible, which from a literary standpoint has been the most powerful work in the Western culture.
Writing has also developed into an art form. Fine literature has developed into something as diverse as visual arts have today. Western Literature, since Shakespeare’s time, first ventured into Romanticism and later to Realism, then shifted into the seemingly incomprehensible contemporary literature we know today. Not only has high-brow literature developed. Sci-fi and fantasy are two genres that have flourished dramatically in the past century.
So what is writing? The simplest definition is that it is another type of communication, one that is unhindered by the passage time. While writing can be used to communicate to larger audiences than those within earshot, it is also a way to communicate to yourself. Have you ever used sticky notes as reminders for something important? Then you have witnessed the power of writing. In a way, you have talked to your future, although at present the conversation is one-sided.
Blogging is also a later- twentieth and twenty-first type of literature, albeit one that is much less formal than its predecessors. I pride myself as a person who can use English reasonably well, and this post is testimony to that.