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Essay about Literature: A Reflection of Society

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In 1445, Johann Gutenberg invented the printing press and changed the world forever. Before this miraculous invention, the only way people could copy literary texts was by hand, which was a very tedious and expensive process. With the help of Gutenberg’s genius, reading materials spread across Europe with more speed than ever because the inexpensive cost of bookmaking led to a rise in sales from the people during that time period. The first book printed was the Bible in Latin, which has since gone on to be the most translated and purchased book in the world. After that was printed, however, the masses demanded more types of literature in their own languages. Ancient works on things such as science, government, and philosophy were rediscovered and led to immense changes in thought on how society was functioning during that time, especially within religion. This period of literary, scientific, and artistic brilliance was labeled the Renaissance, which translates into “rebirth” in French. Without the printing press and spread of many forms of literature, would the amazing accomplishments of the Renaissance have even happened? This is something one should consider when he or she thinks that literature has no impact on society whatsoever.
Literature is not the sole instigator of vast amounts of social change, but there is solid proof that it has influenced society for centuries, both directly and indirectly. Entertainment is certainly one of its main goals, but many authors do not purely write for the amusement of others. Whether it is in the form of a fictional or nonfictional novel, play, short story, speech, essay or poem, literature is chock full of ideas and opinions of its creator, and these ideas usually reflect something abo...


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...g’ Ignited the Environmental Movement." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Sept. 2012. Web. 01 May 2014.
Hendrick, George. “The Influence of Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" on Gandhi's Satyagraha.” New England Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 4. Dec.1956. Pp. 462-471. The New England Quarterly. JSTOR. 29 Apr. 2014.
King, Martin Luther. "My Pilgrimage to Nonviolence." Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story. New York: Harper, 1958. 90-107. National Humanities Center. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Natural Resources Defense Council. "The Story of Silent Spring." Silent Spring Summary. NRDC, 5 Dec. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Schilb, John and John Clifford. Making Literature Matter: An Anthology for Readers and Writers. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2000. Print.
Sophocles. Antigone. Schilb and Clifford 1309-48.
Thoreau, Henry David. “Civil Disobedience”. Schilb and Clifford 1097-12.


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