According to About.com, the meaning of literature is found in what the author says and how he or she says it. Everyone interprets the meaning of an author's writing differently. The analysis of literature is known as literary theory, a decoding of the text through historical, mythological, psychological and sociological viewpoints.
In reference to the meaning of literature, according to About.com, Robert Louis Stevenson said, "The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish."
Literature often represents a culture or a language. According to About.com, literature is important because it introduces people to new worlds and experiences. The source defines "literature" as a term used to describe written or spoken material. In a much broader sense, literature is any creative writing, but it is attributed more so to fiction, nonfiction, drama and poetry.
According to Wikipedia, literature is derived from the Latin terms "literatura" and "litteratura," which mean writing formed with letters. The earliest known works of literature can be traced back to ancient Egypt as early as the fourth millennium B.C. Some of the earliest written works are based on spoken traditions of these ancient civilizations.