etymology: < Greek "apt at teaching"
definition: Having the character or manner of a teacher or instructor; characterized by giving instruction; having the giving of instruction as its aim or object; instructive, preceptive. (Oxford English Dictionary)
The primary intention of didactic art is not to entertain, but to teach the audience a moral or a theme.
much children's literature; religious literature; parables
Thirty Days hath September poem
Thirty days hath September,
There Were Twelve Disciples
(Sunday School song)
There were twelve disciples Jesus called to help
The A-B-C melody
(The use of rhymes in these examples = mnemonic rhymes
mnemonic = for memory
since didactic literature often involves learning something from memory, like the ABC's)
In Literary Criticism
The term "didactic" may criticize work that appears overly burdened with instructive, factual, or otherwise educational information, to the detriment of the work's artistic integrity or the enjoyment of the reader.
Students in English classes sometimes think the "theme" of a text is "the moral of the story," only to find their teachers are not impressed!
Most English faculty regard overly moralistic literature as simplistic and overdetermined, for children rather than adults. The author's intention too heavily limits the meaning of literature to the moral or lesson. The reader can only accept or reject.
Serious, non-didactic literature treats serious themes from real human life. The difference is that serious literature explores problems without pretending to simple solutions, so that an accurate representation of human life in all its complexity is achieved.
Some great literature is didactic, but the other qualities of the text make the didactic element less overwhelming.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment (1866)
Victor Hugo, Les Miserables (1862)
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol (1843)
Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851-2)