The most general genres in literature are (in loose chronological order) epic, tragedy, comedy, novel, short story, and creative nonfiction. They can all be in the genres prose or poetry, which shows best how loosely genres are defined. Additionally, a genre such as satire, allegory or pastoral might appear in any of the above, not only as a sub-genre (see below), but as a mixture of genres. Finally, they are defined by the general cultural movement of the historical period in which they were composed. The concept of "genre" has been criticized by Jacques Derrida.
Dramatic poetry, for instance, might include comedy, tragedy, melodrama, and mixtures like tragicomedy. This parsing into sub-genres can continue: "comedy" has its own genres, for example, including comedy of manners, sentimental comedy, burlesque comedy, and satirical comedy.
Creative nonfiction can cross many genres but is typically expressed in essays, memoir, and other forms that may or may not be narrative but share the characteristics of being fact-based, artistically-rendered prose.
Often, the criteria used to divide up works into genres are not consistent, and may change constantly, and be subject of argument, change and challenge by both authors and critics. However, even a very loose term like fiction ("literature created from the imagination, not presented as fact, though it may be based on a true story or situation") is not universally applied to all fictitious literature, but instead is typically restricted to the use for novel, short story, and novella, but not fables, and is also usually a prose text.
Das hurritische Epos der Freilassung, I: Untersuchungen zu einem hurritisch-hethitischen Textensemble aus Hattusa
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