How do novels, plays, or works of music exist? Consider the Iliad. The original copy of the Iliad was lost long, long ago, yet the Iliad continues to exist through its copies. If all original-language versions of the Iliad were to disappear, leaving only translations, one would assume the Iliad would continue to exist. What if all copies of the Iliad in any language and in any material form were destroyed, and we were left with nothing but the memory of the Iliad? Would it then cease to exist, until someone (presumably with photographic memory) decided to write it down again? What if all memory and knowledge of the Iliad were erased, but copies still existed, lying around in old boxes where nobody remembered them? Would it still exist if this were the case? How can we conceptualize the existence of things, like an ancient epic poem, which exist in physical form yet are not dependent on these forms?(Ask Philosophers)
I have a feeling that a great work of literature like the Ramayana,the Hindu epic penned by Valmiki continues to exist ,not because it exists in a physical form but it has taken hold of the consciousness of people over centuries.The original epic in Sanskrit does exist but the work lives more in the shared conscious of the people.Not many would have read the original epic but everyone in the community lives the epic,so to say,in the way it has shaped the lives and thoughts of people over time. Ramayana is by any standards great literature,not always in the form it was originally conceived but by the way it has influenced life,dealing with universal truths that remain relevant to all times.
Literature is not merely self-contained fictionalized accounts of people written in a distinct style pleasing to the discerning reader.It is part of the consciousness of people,a living document that does not disappear over time but stays close to the minds and hearts of people, whatever be the state of the physical form in which it exists.