Literature analysis intends to deeply examine one piece of writing. The term is applied also to the study of a group of writings, the sum of one writer’s works, a mode of writing and a particular genre of writing. Literature analysis attempts to study its subject’s themes, construction and style. The overall aim is to gain a better understanding of a piece of literature.
Any written work can be considered a form of literature. This includes personal letters and electronic messages online such as status updates. It is often associated with forms such as poetry and novels. Literature analysis, however, should not be confused with literary theory or the theory of literature, which is more philosophical and aims to fully define what exactly literature is. Literary theory has, however, influenced how an analyst approaches a book.
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Studies in literature analysis can have both a narrow focus and a broad focus; they can also examine specific elements of a piece of literature. The study of a novel such as “Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami, for example, can examine his use of style, his themes, his presentation of the context and his characters. A more general examination could study all of Murakami’s works as a whole, comparing “Wild Sheep Chase” with “Kafka on the Shore” or it could take on Japanese literature as a whole.
A literature analysis of “Norwegian Wood’s” characters will see that Murakami has used more character names than usual, especially in naming the lead character when he usually refers to him or her as ‘boku,’ meaning ‘I.’ Studying characters allows an analyst to see how characters are presented, whether they are presented in a realistic manner or are exaggerated caricatures.
Context in a novel is a matter of realism versus perception. Literature analysis focusing on the context or milieu of “Norwegian Wood” would look at how Murakami presents 1960s Japan and whether his portrayal is accurate. Such analysis is often important for historical settings to determine a level of accuracy; when they are semi-biographical as with Murakami’s book, it becomes a matter of finding a personal opinion of those times.
One book can portray a single theme. One writer can repeat the same theme in a number of books. Writers are also capable of using different themes in one book or across a series of books. Studying themes intends to find a larger message or idea being discussed.
Style and influences are two different elements of literature analysis. Investigating the style examines how a writer presents the story. Is it in first person or third person? Is it written in the active tense or the past tense? Influences, meanwhile, come from other pieces of writing or the author’s own biography. In the context of “Norwegian Wood,” influences range from Murakami’s love of American literature to his own experiences as a kid in the 1960s.