The 7 Literary Standards

The seven literary standards are: artistry, suggestiveness, intellectual value, spiritual value, permanence, universality and style. These are a set of characteristics to determine whether or not a work is literary. The criteria was developed by writer William J. Long in his textbook “English Literature: Its History and Its Significance for the Life of the English-speaking World.

1. Universality

It appeals to everyone regardless of culture, race, sex, and time which are considered significant. Universality describes a piece of writing that appeals to the hearts and minds of almost any reader. The appeal is considered universal due to its ability to cross gender, racial and cultural barriers, regardless of the time it’s written.

2. Artistry

It has an aesthetic appeal to everyone and thus possesses a sense of beauty. Artistry describes literature that is aesthetically appealing and reveals or conveys hidden truth and beauty. This type of literature appeals to broad audiences and possesses a sense of beauty in the writing that could even feel poetic.

3. Intellectual Value

It stimulates critical thinking that enriches the mental processes of abstract and reasoning, making man realizes the fundamental truths of life and its nature.

Intellectual value takes readers into a bit of a gray area as they may have different opinions about what qualifies as intellectual, but from an academic point of view, intellectual works are relevant to society and thought provoking. Literature with intellectual value promotes critical thinking that enhances both abstract and reason-based thought processes and makes readers focus on the fundamental truths of life and nature.

4. Suggestiveness

It unravels and conjures man’s emotional power to define symbolism, nuances, implied meanings, images and message, giving and evoking visions above and beyond the plane of ordinary life and experiences. A suggestive piece of literature relies on emotional power to convey nuances, symbolism, implied meanings, imagery and messages. The power of suggestion allows the work to inspire and provoke thoughts and understanding beyond the actual words written on the page.

5. Spiritual Value

It elevates the spirit and the soul and thus have the power to motivate and inspire, drawn from the suggested morals or lessons of the different literary genres.

Literature with spiritual value lifts up the inner spirit and soul and has the power to motivate and inspire readers. It typically draws on the suggested lessons and moral codes of society that are depicted in various literary genres.

6. Permanence

It endures across time and draws out the time factor: TIMELINESS, occurring at a particular time, and TIMELESSNESS, remaining invariably throughout time.

Permanence is determined by a written work’s ability to stand the test of time, which makes it impossible to determine at the moment of writing. Novels that continue to be read over and over again across decades, either for enjoyment or for fresh insights and ideas, meet this criteria. Many novels enjoy initial popularity but ultimately fade into obscurity with time, failing the permanence test.

7. Style

Style refers to the distinct way the author expresses his or her thoughts. Words can be used in unique, creative and entertaining ways that make the work memorable. Style is another element that is subject to interpretation by readers in terms of its appeal.

It presents peculiar ways on how man sees life as evidenced by the formation of his ideas, forms, structures, and expressions which are marked by their memorable substance.

A particular literary piece must possess these seven literary standards in order to be called a peerless epitome of artwork capable of enduring the inexorable gusty tides of alteration. To criticize it is to consider the seven literary standards. Be critical. Ask yourself once in a while.

  • Does it move you?
  • Does it tickle your imaginations?
  • What does it suggest?
  • What moral lessons can be drawn out?
  • Would it still be read and make a good reference hundreds of years from now?
  • Does it possess multifaceted natures for all sorts of audience?
  • Does the style fascinate you?
  • Is the style used unique or forgery?