1. When somebody mentions “literature,” what’s the first thing you think of? (Dickens? Tolstoy? Shakespeare?)
Generally the word "literature" brings to mind the classics, like those listed. I imagine old, dusty, beautifully bound books with yellowed pages and that slighty musty smell. Books filled with both flowery and stuff language often concentrating more on the language than on the character and plot development.
I realize that "literature" really encompasses a much bigger collection of works, that it shouldn't be considered synonymous with the words "old" or "classic," but that it the image that comes to mind.
2. Do you read “literature” (however you define it) for pleasure? Or is it something that you read only when you must?
I decided a while ago that I read too many "just for fun" books and I want to become more well read. I want to read more classics and more well respected literature. And so I have found some lists such as the London Observer's "100 Greatest Novels" and the publishing company Penguin's classics in order to introduce myself to more classics and newer literature.