Great literature can fall into many categories and can be written about a wide range of topics. According to Classical Literature, a classic or piece of great literature can be defined as, "literature of any language in a period notable for the excellence and enduring quality of its writers' works." This is true, most literature holds lasting recognition either from critics and/or other people who are in a position to be able to influence such decisions. It must also have a universal appeal. Great literature usually has to deal with its time period, yet the message is so timeless it can apply to any generation. In most cases this is true but in some cases, for example if a book was written in the 1600's it may have nothing to do with today's time period. It may have no reoccurring themes of the two time periods. Most importantly all great literature has symbolism in it, no matter if it is poetry or a novel there is always a deeper meaning. All literature that is considered great must be timeless, be memorable, contain an underlying message, and be able to be shared from generation to generation.
An example of great literature is, "The Old Man and the Sea," by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway encompasses all of the qualities of great literature and uses them to tell a simple, yet very effective story of a man's fishing journey. All great literature has some kind of symbolism, whether is it a metaphor or an allegory. Hemingway uses elements of symbolism throughout the novel. For example, the big fish that the old man spent eighty-seven days trying to catch represents beauty, strength, and the battle everyone eventually faces at some time in their life. This one of the many examples of how an author uses his/her characters and objects to symbolize other more significant ideas or meanings. In great literature, the syntax and diction of the entire work has symbolism and deeper meaning.