At first glimpse, the notion seems daft. If Sophocles, Shakespeare and Beckett don't fit a definition of literature, then surely it's the definition that's lacking. But I suspect it's theatre's brazenly collaborative and transient nature that spooks the literary gatekeepers. We may think of the literary experience as essentially solitary: a lone reader's silent encounter with a momentous text. It's a notion freighted with reverence, nudging literature into a secular religiosity. Surely literature isn't – or isn't just – about contemplation, let alone meditation. It's about engagement.
Although, playwrights do pretty well in the Nobels, right?