Main Characteristics of AmericanLiteratureWriting Articles | August 29, 2009The United States has such a largeand varied literature that we canmake no true generalizations about it.But three characteristics seem tostand out and give it a flavor all itsown.
First, American literature reflects beliefs and traditions that come from the nation’sfrontier days. The pioneer ideals of self-reliance and independence appear againand again in American writings. American authors have great respect for the valueand importance of the individual. They tend to reject authority and to emphasizedemocracy and the equality of people. They often celebrate nature and a sense ofboundless space.Second, American writers have always had a strong tendency to break with literarytradition and to strike out their awn directions. Writers of other counties seem toabsorb their national literary traditions. But many American authors have rejected theold in order to create something new.Third, a lively streak of humor runs through American literature from earliest times tothe present. In many cases , a dash of salty humor saves a serious theme frombecoming too sentimental. American humor tends to be exaggerated rather thansubtle. It reflects the people’s ability to laugh at themselves even during the mostdifficult times.
American author wrote the Gothic Romance The Scarlet Letter (1850)Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on 4 July 1804 in Salem, Massachusettsin the family home at 27 Hardy Street, now a museum. He was the sonof Elizabeth Clarke Manning and Nathaniel Hathorne, a Captain in theU. S. Navy who died when Nathaniel was four years old. His ancestorswere some of the first Puritans to settle in the New England area and thelingering guilt Hawthorne felt from his great grandfather havingofficiated during the Salem Witch Trials provided a theme for many ofhis stories including The House of Seven Gables. After his father diedNathaniel and his mother moved to her parents‟ home just a few doorsdown from #27, which Hawthorne referred to as „Castle Dismal‟.
American author wrote Little Women (1868);Born on 29 November 1832 in Germantown (now part ofPhiladelphia), Pennsylvania, Louisa May Alcott was the seconddaughter of Abigail `Abba‟ May (1800-1877), women‟s suffrage andabolitionist advocate and Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1893),transcendentalist philosopher and education and social reformerwho helped found the controversial and pioneering Temple Schoolin Boston, Massachusetts in 1834. Amos played an active role in theeducation of Louisa and her three sisters Anna, Elizabeth, and May.
American author, outstanding representative of naturalism, SISTER CARRIE (1900)Theodore Dreiser was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, the ninth of ten children.His parents were poor. In the 1860s his father, a devout Catholic Germanimmigrant, had attempted to establish his own woolen mill, but after it wasdestroyed in a fire, the family lived in poverty. Dreisers schooling was erratic,as the family moved from town to town. He left home when he was 16 andworked at whatever jobs he could find. With the help of his former teacher, hewas able to spend the year 1889-1890 at Indiana University. Dreiser left afteronly a year. He was, however, a voracious reader, and the impact of suchwriters as Hawthorne, Poe, Balzac, Herbert Spencer, and Freud influenced histhought and his reaction against organized religion.
American author, wrote the Pulitzer Prize- winning novel The Age of Innocence (1920)Edith Newbold Jones was born into the wealthy family of George Frederic Jonesand Lucretia Rhinelander on 24 January 1862 in New York City. She had twobrothers, Frederic and Henry “Harry” Edward. To escape the bustling city, thefamily spent summers at „Pencraig‟ on the shores of Newport Harbour in Newport,Rhode Island. When Edith was four years old they moved to Europe, spending thenext five years traveling throughout Italy, Spain, Germany and France. Back in NewYork young Edith continued her education under private tutors. She learned Frenchand German and a voracious reader, she studied literature, philosophy, science, andart which would also become a favourite subject of hers. She also started to writeshort stories and poetry. Fast and Loose was published in 1877 and Verses a collectionof poems privately published in 1878. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the editorof Atlantic Monthly William Dean Howells are said to have read and been impressedby these early works.
American short story writer, novelist, best known for his Yoknapatawpha cycle, a comédie humaine of the American South, which started in 1929 with SARTORIS / FLAGS IN THE DUST and completed with THE MANSION in 1959. Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949.William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, as the oldest offour sons of Murray Charles Faulkner and Maud (Butler) Faulkner. Whilehe was still a child, the family settled in Oxford in north-central Mississippi.Faulkner lived most of his life in the town. About the age of 13, he began towrite poetry. At the Oxford High School he played quarterback on footballteam and suffered a broken nose. Before graduating, he dropped out schooland worked briefly in his grandfathers bank.
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