It is always useful to consider literature in relation to the context in which it was produced. Such an understanding helps to elucidate more of what a text might mean: for example, which features and factors of contemporary life may be being referred to, and why and how they mattered to author or readers or both. Informed and well-focused ‘historicism’ will bring us closer to an understanding of how aspects of the literature functioned and bore meaning in the context in which that literature arose. It is especially important to appreciate that literature is part of cultural life and thus part of the cultural history of whatever age it originates in. Literature is thus just as much and just as good evidence for a period and place as practical documents, recorded events, archaeological finds, buildings, works of art and monuments.
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