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American Literature

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28 – AMERICAN LITERATURE Native American Literature Vikings came from North- 1st literature work: “The Old Northern Viking Saga” – Scandinavian language. The first notices of literature were often sent to Europe from Americans to inform in forms of diaries, charts, maps, letters etc. 15th 17th century First colony – Jamestown. “Diaries of Captain John Smith” -story about the Indian girl Pocahontas.Anne Bradstreet-2nd half of 17th 18thcentury War of Independence.Benjamin Franklin- writer, painter, editor, scientist, inventor etc., owned his own printing shop, said to had invented the lightning rod, Own “Biography”, “Poor Richard’s Almanac” -way to wealthy, American dream.Thomas Paine– “Common Sense” (supports fight for independence)- philosophical and political pamphlet.Noah Webster – 19th century Romanticism was connected with nationalism. Americans were proud of the American intellectual tradition. James Fennimore Cooperwrote about conversion- differences between waste and civilised land. “The Pioneers “-life in the USA, Indians against white people; “Leather Stocking Tales” -settling Wild West; “The Last of the Mohicans”-Indian novels of adventure. Walt Whitmanwas a poet of democracy, freedom, sexual love - Leaves of Grass. Edgar Allan Poewas raised by a foster family of Allans; he had many debts and he became an alcoholic. He was a poet and short stories writer, founder of psychological horror genre. “The Raven”, “The Black Cat”, “The Pit and Pendulum”. He was the founder of detective genre: plot, tension, revenge, closed places. Herman Melvillewas a symbolist- “Moby Dick” = “The Whale” – young boy Ismail. Emily Dickensonwrote poems and lived in seclusion. Topic of Slavery Harriet Beecher Stowe –“Uncle Tom´s Cabin” – sufferings of separated family Margaret Mitchell –“Gone with the Wind” – destiny of O´Hara family during the Civil War 20th century The quick development in America at the end of 19th century in industry, trade and manufacturing goods gave rise to many problems. Authors first try to describe the ugliness of life, where moneymaking dominates, destroys human character and put aside all human values. Realism and Naturalism developed. Realistic Period Mark Twain =Samuel Clemens; Mississippi river; “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn” Stephen Crane –“Maggie, the Girl of Streets” Jack London –the gold rush in Alaska, people searching for American Dream; “White Fang”, “The Call of the Wild” Theodore Dreiser –the American Dream; “Sister Carrie”, “American Tragedy” Lost Generation After the WWI a group of writers known as the Lost Generation entered literature. They were writers who were influenced by the war. Their experience resulted in disillusionment. It was the most productive period of American Literature. It is connected with prohibition and economical crisis. The part of Lost Generation is called Jazz Era. The term “Lost Generation” was invented by Gertrude Stein. Francis Scott Fitzgeraldwas connected with Jazz Age of the 20s. He wrote many stories about wealthy people, for whom everything is so easy because of money. “The Great Gatsby”, “Tales of Jazz Era”, “The Curios Case of Benjamin Button”, “Tender is the Night” John Dos Passos –“Three Soldiers” (psychological analysis), “U.S.A” – trilogy, “The Garbage Men” John Steinbecktried to uncover the reasons of social injustice; “The Grapes of Wrath”, “Of Mice and Men” Ernest Hemingwaywas one of the best known Am. writers. His native city is Illinois. He did not stay there all his life, however. Cuba and Paris became his adopted homes. Of course he lived in the USA as well. Apart from this he undertook many expeditions to Africa where he hunted wild game. E.H. worked as a newspaper reporter. That is also why he was interested in public affairs. During the WWI he served in hospital unit. During the Spanish Civil War he remained in Spain as a war correspondent. His life was interesting and full of adventure. His work includes a social critique and the atmosphere of public life. He tended to naturalism. He used a language that was concise, understandable as well as literary. His whole life was an inspiration for his work. “For Whom The Bell Tolls” - Spanish Civil War; “A Farewell to Arms” - military theme; “The Green Hills of Africa”; “Nick Stories”; “The Old Man and the Sea” - the setting of this novel is Cuba, the city of Havana and later on the sea in the Gulf of Mexico. The action covers a very short period of time. The idea was the abidingness of human life and its timeless calling: man can be destroyed but not defeated.The author pointed out the human dependence on nature and the mutual permanent struggle between the two. According to E.H. it is not possible to gain mastery over nature. All this is symbolised by the positions of the little boy and the old man, the gap between generations, the search and discovery for something new. Man carries victory hidden inside him. In 1954 Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for The Old Man and the Sea. William Styron – “Sophie’s Choice”–about problems of Nazis concentration camps and conditions of human life in peace influenced by the bitter war experience William Saroyanwrote short stories, novels, drama full of humanity, love of children, human relations; “Papa you are Crazy” Joseph Heller – “Ken Kessey- “One flew over the cuckoo´s nest” John Irving –“The World According to Garp”; “The Cider House Rules”; “Widow for One Year” Mario Puzzo –“The Godfather” Toni Morrison –“Beloved” Beat Generation 20th century poetry is famous for a group of poets and artists who gathered around 1956 in San Francisco and are called Beat Generation. The promoted new ways of free life, behaviour and new use of language. All of them used a lot of drugs, alcohol… Allan Ginsberg - “The Howl” Jack Kerouac–“On the Road” William Boroughs –“Naked Lunch” Drama in 20th century Tennessee Williams –“A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” Eugene O’Neill –“Mourning Becomes Electra” Edwar

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