History of American Literature
American literature the first half of 18th century was leither religious (influenced by pesimistic ideas of Puritans about man's life on Earth) or documentary describing travels and new country. Later, after Signing of a Declaration of Independence literature was political, including political documents or speches or esseys on american society.
In the beginning of the 19th century a new romantic movement appeared. The spirit of Freedom, Independence and democracy spread across the country. JAMES FENIMORE COOPER - The last of the Mohycans. He wrote mainly adventure stories in which the good won over of the evil. The most popular are Lather stocking series including The last of the Mohycans about Indians and cowboys, in his books living in peace and harmony.
EDGAR ALLAN POE - The Raven
He was a gambler and drinker and mentally ill, in his private life, but he is considered to be the founder of the modern detective story, full of horror and mystery. For example: The black cat, The Murders, The rue morgue, The pit and the pendulum. He wrote esseys about poetry. As a poet he was a master of rhymes and creatin moods. The most famous of his poem The Raven always repeating the word "never more."
WALTER WHITMAN - Leaves of Grass
Influended so colled free - vers and introduced new themes into new peotry. As - dirty cities, ordinary workers or sexual love (physical love). He believed in man and his power. All his peoms are in the book Leaves of Grass from which the Song of myself is the most famous one. Realism
In the second half of the 19th century great changes took place in people lifes. Trade and manufactures grew rapidly and writers moved from Romantism towards Realism. MARK TWAIN - spent his childhood near the Mississippi River. He wrote many humorous sketches and tales. His the best none books are The adventure of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, where he depicts many temporary problems as slavery or freedom, but throught the eyes of a small boy.
JACK LONDON - was so called selfmade man - didn't get much education but read many books. He was influenced also by Marx and his theory of class struggle. The most popular are his adventure book from Klondike gold rush and sea. Some names of the books: The call of the wild, The sea wolf, Love of life and other stories. THEODOR DREISER - wrote about real people living in the cities and theirs social problems. His heroes are usually unable to assert their will.
Against economics forces. Also in his American tragedy, the story of the young man - a murderer he blames society and system, not the hero. AFTER WW 1
In the past war period writers asked for liberty for the individuals to express oneself. New forms and new themes appeared. SINCLAIR LEWIS, ERNST HEMINGWAY, WILLIAM FAULKNER
FRANCIS SCOTT FITZGERALD - he is the writer of "roaring twenties." He talks about desillusions, the central point of his work is a clash of ideas with the reality of money relations. Tales of the Jazz Age, Tender is the night, Great Gasby - the hero of this book is the example of conflict between illusions and the reality. He has everything, but cannot have his love and finally he is killed. It was filmed with Robert Redford. JOHN STEINBECK - is closely connected with native California. He writes about ordinary people poor workers or farmers, small thieves or even idiots, but he showes his deep human understanding of all of them. He was awarded the Nobel prize. Some of his books: Tortilla Flat, Humorous story of Mexican American colony, Of Mice and Men - about migrant farm workers, The Grapes of wrath - a social novel. MODERN AMERICAN PROSE
After WW II. New generation is seeking new ideals and values and however a new forms. We must mention of a Beatnic movement which originated in San Francisco and was a revolt against schools and old values. In promise it is represented by JACK KEROUAC and his novel On the road about adventures of young people refusing steady jobs, written in three days without puncuation.
In poetry ALLEN GINSBERT with his Howl. His typical themes are sex, druck(?) addition and individualism. He lived a life of a rebel and he visited also Bratislava. Other outstanding authors are: SAUL BELLOW, BERNARD MALLMUD, JEROME D. SALINGER - Catcher in the Rye, NORMAN MAILER, JOSEPH HELLER. DRAMATIC: ARTHUR MILLER, TENESSE WILLIAMS, EDWARD ALBEE
He was born in Illinois, his father was a doctor. He often used to take him for hunting and fishing trips and so made him to love nature and to admire courage and endurance. He was abulant driver. He belong to the group of “lost generation”. They were very dissapointed with everything around thez. And about this he wrote. When World War 1 broke out he went to Europe and took part in it. He was wounded and then lived for several years in Paris. He often wrote about death - in the mountains, in bull-fights or in war. Hemingway's character sooner or later go down do defeat.
They are defeated physically, but they try to gain a moral victory. They lose in the long run, but learn how to lose with honour. They die or are lost, but they face the problem of death with dignity, they become moral winners. They are able to lose with charm and dignity. We speak about grace under pressure. He was not good at female heroines, his typical characters are strong, brave and robust men. Hemingway's style is very economic. He uses simple sentences and coordinate pauses linked usually with "and". He is easy to read, but perhaps not to understand. At the age of 63 he commited a suicide, but he became a legend during his life. He died by a gunn accident at his house in Idaho. He wrote: Farewell to Arms, The sun also rises, Three stories and ten Poems, For whom the bells tolls, The Old Man and the sea, Island in the stream, Green hills of Africa, 49 stories, To have and not to have. Three stories and ten Poems - in his first collection of short stories
The Sun also Rises - is his first successful novel. Charakters: Young Americans living in Paris after World War the first. Generation of post- war era is without hope or ambition. They try to enjoy each day as it comes. Some of them are expatriots – people without a home-land. Central hero Jake Barnes was wounded in the war and now he is sexually impotant, this word has a wider meaning in the novel, it symbolizes people dammaged by the war. They are spiritually impotant. All they know how is to live in the emptiness of the world. Hemingway developes this emptiness into the important concept of nada (nothingness). Nada means the loss of hope in ebidity to become active in the real world. Typicall Hemingways character fights against the nada of the world. A farewell to Arms - contains the beautiful and poignant love story of an American ambulance driver Frederic Henryand and English nurse Catherin Barkley. It also shows the shattering effects of war upon individuals. For whom the bells toll - is a novel about Spanish Civil War. The main hero is Robert Jordan an American volunteer, sent on a mission to blow up a bridge. The author depicts only three days of his life. He falls in love with a Spanish girl Maria. Finaly he loses his life, but with dignity, he doesn't die for nothing. His part in war was the general fight for democracy.
The old man and the sea - is the novelette, for which the author received a Novel Price for literature. It is a kind of a philosophical dialogue of a Cuban fisherman with nature. Santiago catches a big fish and tights it to his boat.
He is wounded and fish too, so there is a bloody trace behind him. Sharks come and he has to fight with them. When he reaches the shore only a skeleton remains. He puts bones to the garbage and goes for coffee as if nothing happened. The nature was stronger than Santiago, but he was a moral winners. "Man can be destroyed but never defeated."
It is an allegory of a human life and old cuban fisherman catches a huge fish after along patient fight. But sharks come eat it down to the bones...
The old man then returns with just a skeletons. When tourists laugh at him, he doesn’t complain. The reader sees this as sign of true heroism. The old man showed courrage in the fight and stoicism in defeat. The novel received a Pulizer prize and awarded the Nobel prize for literature. .