As early as Greco-Roman antiquity, the classification of literary works into different genres has been a major concern of literary theory, which has since then produced a number of divergent and sometimes even contradictory categories. Among the various attempts to classify literature into genres, the triad “epic,” “poetry,” and “drama” has proven to be the most common in modern literary criticism. Because the traditional epic gave way to the new prose form of the novel in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, recent classifications prefer the terms “fiction,” “poetry,” and “drama” as designators of the three major literary genres. The following sections will explain the basic characteristics of ...

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