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Higher and Secondary Special Education Ministry of the Republic of
Gulistan State University
«History of American Literature»
0 0 1 EGuliston 2005
In the tenth century brave Scandinavian sailors reached the Western coast of
the Present USA. On 12th of October 1492 Christopher Columbus landed on one
of the islands (in the region of Cuba). About 1500 Florentine Amerigo Vespuchi
came to the shores of the New World. But only at the beginning of the XII century
did Europeans begin to open up Western Coasts of the North America. At that time
the Spaniards founded settlements along the Atlantic coast (in the territory of the
present day Florida, Georgia and South California). The Dutchmen settled in the
district of Hudson. In Manhatten island (Hudson-) 1613 the Dutch settlement
became New Amsterdam. In 1604 Frenchmen founded the first settlements in
Canada. Englishmen set about to colonize America, a little later, the first English
colony was Virginia which was founded in 1607. In 1620 «Mayflower» brought
from England the first detachment of the colonists = puritans, who founded New
Plymouth (near present day Boston). Later near that place there sprang up New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and these united under the name of New
England. In 1634 there appeared Maryland and in 1681 William Penn founded the
Quaker colony, Pennsylvania.
American Literature can not be captured in a simple definition. It reflects the
many religious, historical and cultural traditions of the American people, one of the
world's most varied populations. It includes poetry, fiction, drama and other kinds
of writing by authors in what is now the US. It also includes non written material,
such as the oral literature of the American Indians and folk tales and legends. In
addition, American literature includes accounts of American written by immigrants
and visitors from other countries, as well as works by American writers who spent
all of their lives abroad.
The United States became an independent nation by winning the
Revolutionary War in America (1775–1783). Much of the literature of this period
addressed issues relating to American independence.
American literature begins with the legends, myths and poetry of the
American Indians, the first people to live in what is now the US. Indian legends
included stories about the origin of the world, the histories of tribes and tales of
tribal heroes. With rare exceptions this oral literature wasn't written down until
The earliest writing in America consisted of the journals and reports of
European explorers and missionaries. These early authors left a rich literature
describing their encounters with new lands and new civilizations. They publicized
their adventures, described the New World, and tried to attract setllers in words that
sometimes mixed facts with propaganda.
Colonists from England and other European countries began settjing along
the eastern coast of North America in the early 1600's and created the first
American colonial literature. The colonies in Verginia and New England produced
the most important writings in the 1600's. In the 1700's, Philodelphia emerged as
the literary center of the American colonies.
Captain John Smith wrote what is regarded as the first American book, «A
True Relation of… Virginia (1608). It describes how he and other colonists
established the first permanent E. settlement in America at Jamestown, John Smith
wrote «A Description of New England) in 1616. Smith told a version of the famous
story of Pocahontas in The General Histories of Virginia, New England and the
Summer Isles (1624). The story claims that Pocahontas, the daughter of an Indian
chief, saved Smith's life when her father was about to have him killed.
In «The History of the Present State of Virginia» (1705) historian Robert
Beverley wrote about the tragic destruction of the American Indians.
To Beverley, the Indians represented possibilities for happiness, innocence,
harmony and freedom. In 1620, the Pilgrims founded Plymouth Colony the second
permanent E.settlement in America. Many Pilgrims belonged to a group of E.
Protestants called Puritans.
The Puritans recorded their own history out of a desire to communicate with
fellow believers in England, to attract new coloniests, and to justify their move to
a new country. Cotton Mathew wrote more than 400 works on many subjects.
Historical works aimed at recording the life of the Puritans, their journey to
America, and the major events, as well as the everyday chronicle, of their life in
the New World. William Bradford, «History of Plymanth Plantation». Adward
Johnson «History of New England», Coblun Mather «Masnalia Christi
Americana». Underlying all these writings, one always finds the idea of
Providence; the worldwhich is described is always seen as a reflection of the divine
order so that constant analogies are drawn between the beauty of nature and the
still of the Architect who created it. Sermons were by far the most common sort of
literature in American Colonial communities totally controlled by the church.
Dozens of ministers published the sermons that they had written, the best known
being those of Thomas Hooker, Increase and Colton Mather.
In spite of the Puritans admiration for the classics and poets like Milton,
poetry was often distrussed for appealing for much to the senses and the
John Smith (1580–1631)
John Smith lived a life crammed with adventure and achievement during a
great age of exploration. It had not taken long for adventurers and merchants to
begin to explore the New World Columbus had discovered. The Spanish to the
south, the French to the north, the English along the mid-Atlantic coast, the Dutch,
the Swedes, the Portuguese – all of Europe seemed to be moving west. By Smith’s
time, about 1600 exploration and the search for gold were still important, but the
desire to establish permanent settlements was growing. Smith strong-willed,
imaginative, a born leader – was in the right place at the right time.
In 1607 the first permanent English settlement Jamestown, Virginia, was
formed. It was made up of one hundred men and four boys, and the man in charge
was the twenty-seven year-old Captain John Smith. The colony would not have
survived without John Smith. As it was, over half the colonists died during the first
winter. After two years in Jamestown, Smith returned to England.
In 1614 a group of English merchants, who hoped to get rich from gold,
whale oil, and furs, financed a six-month expedition to New England for Smith. He
explored the coast of Main to Cape Cod, made maps, traded with Indians, and went
back to England, never to return to America. Yet Smith wanted to return as we can
see from his «Description of New England», published in 1616. Although he calls
this work a description, Smith’s main purpose is not to describe but to persuade.
This pamphlet is essentially and advertisement, a kind of seventeenth – century
«commercial». It is an effort to raise money for another new expedition and to
convince Englishmen to join Smith in establishing a new colony of which he hoped
to be governor.
The United States became an Independent nation by winning the
Revolutionary War in America (1775–1783). Much of the literature of this period
addressed issues relating to American independence.
Thomas Paine soon became famous for his fiery essays in support of the
American patriots. His pamphlet «Common Seuse» (1776) called for complete
independence from Great Britain. In a series of pamphlets called «The
American Crisis» (1776–1783), he encouraged the rebels to persist during the
darkest days of the Revolutionary War.
James Hector St. John De Creve Coeur the French – born essayist
(1735–1813), helped the colonists think of themselves as American rather than
Europeans. Crevecoeur saw America as a new land where individuals could
throw off old Prejudices, suffocating social Customs, and tyrannical
Franklin, Paine and Creve Coeur wrote in disnified, but Plain and clear,
prose. This style reached its peak in the ringing eloquence of the «Declaration of
Independence» written by Thomas Jefferson. The same type of writing appears in
the sober language of the Constitution of the U.S-s, much of which was dratted by
Gonverneur Morris, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay used this
clear style in «The Federatist» (1784–1788), and series of public letters that
persuaded New Yorkers to ratify the Constitution.
William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant merits a claim to be one of America’s first
naturalist poets. Born after the Revolutionary War, Bryant turned to nature as
a source for poetic inspiration. «Thanatopsis», the name of his most famous
nature poem, is a Greek word meaning «view of death». The opening lines
To him who in the love of nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language…
Edgar Allan Poe, was also a master of the prose tale. A gifted, tormented
man, Poe thought about the proper function of literature for more than any of his
predecessors, with the result that he became the first great American literary
The next great American Romanticist, however, drew on America for both
characters and seltings, and his work, though theoretical and philosophical, does
mirror the attitudes and moves of the time. He was a Shy New Englander named
Nathaniel Hawthorne. Although he wrote no poetry his short Stories and novels
still rank among the best that America has produced.
Abolitionism. Harriet Beacher Stowe «Uncle Tom’s Cabin»
Transcendentalism. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the «Great Awakener» the
founder of Transcendentalism, deeply influenced American literature. His
Speeches «The American Scholar» (1837) and «Divinity School Address» (1838).
His treatise «Nature» (1836). In 1840 started publishing «The Deal», the
Transcendentalism review. 1841. Essays, first series. (Second series in 1844).
1845–1846 «Lectures on Representative Men» (published 1880); Poems.
Literature of a young nation (1788–1917)
Washington Irving rose to fame with humorous and its past in the magazine
«Salmagundi» (1807–1808) and in a book, «A History of New York from the
Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty (1809). The book is also
called «Knickbocker’s History of New York» because Irving wrote it under the
name Diedrich Knickerbocker. In «The Sketch Book of Geoffren Crayon,» (1819–
1820), Irving combined the style of the essay and the sketch to create the first short
stories in American literature. The book includes «Rip Van Wirkle» and «The
legend of Sleepy Hollow» two of Irving’s most famous tales. In «Rip Van Wirkle» 0 0 1 Ethe title character awakens from a 20 year sleep to find everything changed by the
Revolutionary War. Irving’s doubts about American independence, his hostility
toward New E-d culture, and his desire to mountain cultural ties with E-d run
through all his early writing.
The poet William Cullen Bryantadapted the style of E. romantic poetry to
describe the American landscape and to find moral significance in its beauty. Such
poems as «Thanatopsis» (1817), «To a Waterfowl» (1818), and «To the Fringed
Gentain» (1832) reflect Bryant’s admiration of nature.
Origin of the American Novel. Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1748–1816)
Hugh Henry Brackenridge was Scotch. He came to America still a child and
he grew up in Pennsylvania. In 1768 he entered the Princeton University. On
graduating from the University Brackenridge worked at school. During the War for
Independence he served as a priest in the revolutionary army.
In 1776 he wrote his poem «Battle at the Banker Hill» and his play «General
Montgomery’s Death» appeared.
After the War he moved to Pittsburgh; there he edited a newspaper and took
an active part in the social life of the country, he supported Jefferson’s party. He
became the Member of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The activity supplied
him with material for his satirical novel «Modern Chivalry» («Современное
рыцарство»). The first part of which saw the world in 1792 and the second one
came into existence in 1805. Brackenridge is seen in this novel as the founder of
American realistic novel.
The writer showed how the American bourgeoisie used democratic
aciements of the revolution for their goals =aims; how the American bourgeoisie
streugthened it’s rule (господство) Modern Chivalry is written in spirit of the
English Englighteument novel of the XVIII century. The heroes of the book are
Captain John Tarrago and his servant from Ireland Treg O – Riggee. They visit
distant plays of the frontier, they were at inns, fairs; they watehed Eleetious to the
local. Captain Farrago was well read and clever man. Being a democrate he does
not believe American democracy blindly; he could see its dark sides as well.
He tried to bring up honest citizens of America showing them the «stupidity
of ambitious pretentious «Braskenbridge’s traditions would be continued and
deepened by the realists of the XIX century.
The Era of Expansion (1831–1870)
During the mid 1830’s the United States gained control of Texas, California,
Oregon, and other western lands. The Indians who occupied many lands from coast
to coast were forced to surrender their claims and to resettle an reservation.
To glorify the frontier
To praise the beauty of nature
In 1861, The Civil War broke out between the North and South. The North
won the war in 1865.
Two main forms of fiction were practiced by American writers in the mid –
1890’s: 1) the sentimental novel and 2) the romance.
The sentimental novel, which had been developed by author Samuel
Richardson in the mid – 1700’s, became immensely popular in the United S-s in
the mid – 1800’s. This type of novel emphasized feelings and such values as
religious faith, moral virtue, and family closeness. Its stress on traditional values
appealed to many people during a period of rapid social and political change.
The sentimental novel also used reform. It became the means for rousing
concern about the plight of black slaves, poor people, and other unfortunate
members of society.
Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790)
He was born in 1706 in Boston, the son of a tallow-chandler. In 1718 he
became a printer’s apprentice. In 1722 he began to write satirical papers under the
name «Silens Dogood» for the «New England Courant» as a writer – enlightener.
He was a philosopher, scientist. In 1729 he came to Philadelphia and found work
as a printer. In 1726 set up his own press. In 1727 Benjamin created the «Junto
Club» for the pursuit of scholarly knowledge.
In 1729 he bought the «Pennsylvania Gazette», it was later turned into
«Saturday Evening Post». In 1732 he started issuing «Poor Richard’s Almanack».
In 1742 he invented the Franklin Store and this is a collection of proverbs moral
reflections, advertisements, recipes and advice, also remained popular for
generations. In 1743 he founded the American Philosophical Society. In 1751 he
makes experiments and observations in Electricity. In 1757 he went to London, as
an agent for the Pennsylvania Assembly. In the same year he published «The Way
to Wealth». During 1765–1770 he is very active against the Stamp Act in London.
In 1771 Benjamin wrote the first part of his «Autobiography». In 1775 he
was sent as a delegate to the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In 1776
he helped draft the Declaration of Independence. He is sent to Paris to negotiate the
treaty of alliance. In 1783 he signed the Treaty of Paris. In 1784 he started working
on the «Autobiography» again. In 1785 he returned to America. He wrote against
slavery. Died in Philadelphia in 1790.
In 1773 he wrote a satirical pamphlet «Rules by which a Great Empire May
Be Reduced to a Small One». In 1784 he published another pamphlet in England
«Remarks Concerning the Savages of North America» in defense of American
Indians. His satirical pamphlet «On the Slave Trade» became his political precept
Herman Melville called him «Jack of all trades, master of each and mastered
by none – the type and genius of his land…» and indeed Benjamin Franklin’s life
bears testimony to the variety of his pursuits and talents. It is the story of a gradual
rise to power and a constant success: as a printer, and a scientist (he studied
earthquakes, invented bifocal spectacles, was the first American to enter the Royal
Society of London for his discoveries on electricity), in his municipal
responsibilities in Philadelphia (where he created both a fire company and a police
force, and introduced paving), and in his national duties as a tireless diplomat. He
was the perfect representative of the Enlightenment, of the tolerant, reasonable,
scientific intellect of the 18th century, believing in the perfectibility of man.
Franklin’s writings are the varied – essays, letters, speeches, satirical works-
but his literary masterpiece is his «Autobiography». Written in a simple and direct
style aimed at being understood by all, it relates his rise to success and maturity.
Through the varied steps and careers of his life, we see him assuming different
poses and roles which the elderly narrator describes with lucidity and distance. His
pragmatic insistence on virtue, industry and self – reliance was later to be criticized
as «bourgeois» and «utilitarian», but there is deep sincerity in the
«Autobiography»; one feels that Franklin tried to better his fellowmen’s physical,
intellectual and social conditions, that he was mainly concerned with the «common
benefit of mankind».
Franklin’s first book, «Poor Richard’s Almanac» also remained popular for
1. Over 200 tears ago, Benjamin Franklin wrote:
«The rapid progress true science now makes occasions my regretting
something that I was born too soon. It is impossible to imagine the heights to
which may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter. Oh, that
moral science were in as fair a way of improvement, that men woiuld cease to be
wolves to one another, and that human beings would at length learn what they now
improperly call humanity!» In your own words explain what Franklin meant by
this statement and then in a short written essay, agree or disagree with his point of
view as it applies to your life.
A piblic-spirited citizen – Yet, civic affairs was only one of his many
He was also a scientist, patriot, businessman, statement, and man of the
Franklin, the Scientist,
Franklin, the Patriot,
Franklin, the Businessman,
Franklin the Statesman.
Charles Brockden Brown (1771–1810)
Charles brockden Brown was born in Philadelphia in the familty of
hereditary gentleman by birth colonist His father was a trader. He prepared his son
to the profession of a lawyer. Having left the lawschool Brown began engage
himself as a lawyer, but in 1798 he left advocate’s office, he did not want to stay as
a defender of unjustice. Brown went to New York where he devoted himself
wholly to litrary activity writing eight novels for four years. Simultaneously he
published «Monthly Magazine and American view «(from 1799 by 1803) on the
pages of whose he published his own stories and excerpts from his own novels.
Litrary – critical activity he did not give up ever.
Brown belonged to a new past-war seneration of American writers. He
grewv in the conditious of strengthened bourgeois system. Brown lost ties with
paine and Frenan. For aim Hamilton the leader of feduralists was not private
enemy; and Brown wrote about him sympatheticobituary but true did not lose ties
with French and English Enlightenment, with Godwin, the influence of the latter
on Brown is felt in his novels.
The crisis of Enlightenment novelis seen in Browns interests to the heroes
with ill, cofused souls, to the mysterious and intricate adventures to fatal mysteries.
The life became more complicated incause of the development of bourgeois
relations. The power of money drew the death of patriarchal moral and manners. In
this condition instead of Enlightenment nvels there appear Gothic novels full of
horrors and mysteries. His first novel «Wieland» (1798) came into being and where
the author coudemnsamusing literature
Brown defends the unity of meaning and form. In the article «Standards of
Taste» (1806) Brown states that the meaning gives dignity an dweight to the worle
not a form. He says that 6he form without meaning looks like a nut without kernel;
it diappoints. Brown was the first in American literature to speak about literary
critics tobe a science. Brown states that literature hasthe task to enlishten people
and it snould serve social aims. He made an invention= discovery the reason of
unhappines of a mans roots in (is founded on) not on his nature, but its reason is in
Brown’s easthetics prepared the appearance ofromanticism.
On Browns road went Hawthorne, Edgar Poeand Lippard. The narration is
made on the name of Clara Wieland – the heroes (Theodore’s) sister. The next
novel is «Ormond» («Ормонд «, 1799) in this novel the author makes one more
step in the owning with American material. Stephen Dadleya New Yorkdruggist is
honest and kind=well disposed. He is ruined by his adroitand inscrupulous
impudent apprentice. Crais and to whom his drugstorepassed. To support his
family Dadley becomes a clerk in a law.
Ormond is Dadley’s acquantance, Whoseves Dadley’s from hanger daeth.
But later it turns out that the young man is a villain scoundrel. Ormond’s aim is to
seduce =pervert Coustance. It was he who made Stephen Dadley poor using Craig
as a wqeapon. Ormond had already enticed one girl. His next saerife became
Constance. The real hero of the novel is Constance.
A month later Browns next novel «Arthur Mervin» appeared «Edgar
Huntley, or Memoirs of the Sleep – Walker» aws published in July1799.
«Clara Howard» (1800) and «Jane Tacbot» (1801) are novels which have
General Characteristics of American Romanticism
Romanticism, transcendentalism and abolitionists writers reflected complex,
contradictory pictures of the first half of the XIX century development of
American society. They leaned upon the aesthetics of Romanticism, which was the
leading literary school of those years. Appearance in America was inevitable
historically as well as in European literatures. American romanticism had the same
historical precondition and it rested on the same aesthetically basic and methods as
European romanticism. American romanticism sprang up on the soil of the
American revolution of 1775–1783 by some of the results. The principles of life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness declared in the Declaration of Independence
came to a contradiction with social and economic structure, which secured
freedom & happiness of only rich owners.
Humdrum the life of the American middle class society spurned the writers
with its prisms, dry practicality & narrow – mindedness of approach. The
romanticists tried to contradict such prisms in either the life of the Indians, which
had not yet been defined with capitalist civilization, or the Reich of romantic
dreams of higher & more reasonable system.
In this way, there sprang up, peculiar to the aesthetics of romanticism,
contradictions between the dreams & reality. For the romanticists it was
characteristic to the material worried, in aspiring to contradict reality with abstract
ideals. Romanticists sought their ideals outside real life, in the realism of dreams,
because they couldn’t their ideals in the images taken from reality. Rejestiny the
unattractive middle class worlds the romanticists imposed an invented world
through their dreams. They also fried to depict real life, but the peculiarity of their
creative methods defined the specific character and its reflection.
Events & stages in the romanticists works rise above the pettiness of every
day life. The prosaic middle class is put against high romantic natures & every day
practical interests as opposed to the struggle of mighty passions. Creation of
fantastic characters who act in fantastic, imaginary situations – such were the
methods of romantically typification & American romantic literature is not an
exception to this. Romanticists consciously digressed from the ordinary, from the
conditions of every day life, from every day concrete definition. In their artistic
generalization, they were attracted by the symbolic & allegorical. Hidden &
incomprehensible for romanticists were the reasons of social phenomena.
All the same, romanticism was a step forward in the development of
literature. The romanticists widened the notion about life & deepened the
understanding of life. They approached beauty of nature in a new fashion & they
revealed deeply emotional perceptions of social existence.
The main achievement of romanticism was a steady attention to the inner
world of man, to his spiritual life. The romanticists opposed the cult of sense, the
cult of human passions, preferring enlightenment cult of realism. Thanks to it, they
were able to express their protest against the suppression of the personality & to
expose the complexity of people’s spiritual life at the beginning of the XIX
Together with European romanticists, American writers of this direction
widened the borders of world of knowledge for people of those days.
American romanticism had to understand a new, very contradictory &
intricate world dying & being born again to understand new human interrelations,
to refuse the settled & to dealer new criteria. It was extremely difficult. The
romanticists were distressed, they sought, they foresaw. They were delighted with
life. They struggled for the best, they appreciated the resent past & present, then
created the images of indomitable heroes & rebels, who were full of high passion
such as: recalcitrance, anger & the thirst for justice.
All romanticist theories glorified the individualistic ideal of human behavior,
but none of them explained individualism with regularities of social development.
This differentiates romanticism from realism.
Romanticism is an effective method of artistic mastery the assimilation of
reality without which the process of the aesthetic development of any nation world
not is full.
Romanticists went from the life of an individual to the life of the country,
not paying attention to social groups, layers or classes.
American romanticists did not have a single ideological program, which they
could defend in their works. Besides the transdentalists’ club, there was no
romanticists’ group, schools or trends. Washington Irving was alone in his Anglo –
American position as «a intermediary» between Europe & America. Nathaniel
Hawthorn was also single in his fight against Puritanism. Edgar Allow Poe was in
literary & social isolation. Herman Mellville’s name was crossed out from
literature when he still was alive. Yes!
But =Yet all of them were united in their protest against middle class morals,
policy & aesthetical estimation, in their customs.
The sharpness of real contradictions determines the strife of romanticists to
abstract & to oppose «the beautiful with the ugly» & «good with evil». Positive is
raised & negative is lowered. That is whelp in the creative methods of romanticists
contrasting engage much place, we can notice the melioration for the
exceptional & unique & the titanium of amigos & underlined hyperbole in the
description of natural elements.
Romanticists introduce dramatic conflicts with mysteries & «fatal» chance –
fortuity; the plot acquires of adventurous heralds, the intrigue is intricate, the
hero’s have sudden turns & troubles.
The heroes have a lot of obstacles. The events develop dynamic & the
conclusion almost unexpected.
The idea of national originality & the idea of national character are typical
for American romanticists. It was the American romanticists who raised the flag for
Independent American literature not dependent upon European literature. They
became the creators of the national literature of their mother country; they became
the historians of the past & the judges of their present. This function will be
inherited by the literature of a later deeded – of the critical realism.
Each of the romanticists tried to find his ideal outside the middle class
surroundings & middle class practices & with it underlining antipoetic character of
the «mercenary word».
Washington Irving searched the ideal in the patriarchal surrounding of the
colonists of the XVIII century & he created a poetical image of «old worldly»
America; Fenimore Cooper & Herman Melville considered the ideal the free life of
uncivilized nations of the islands of the Pacific or the Indians; S. Judd & I. Hippard
searched for support in Christian socialism.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849)
Edgar Allan Poe is certainly one of the best known and most popular of
American writers. His stories are read by children, probed with the tools of
psychoanalysis by critics, and transformed into films. His poems, notably «The
Raven», «To Helen» and «Annable Lee», are widely anthologized. And his critical
notion that a poem should be readable in a single sitting so as not to mute its single
effect is a familiar critical principle. More importantly, Poe’s poetic theories,
outlined in such pieces as «The Poetic Principle», «The Rationale of Verse» and
«The Philosophy of Composition, had a profound influence on the French
Before he became a famous poet and short – storey writer, Poe was known
as a journalist and magazine editor. He wrote numerous reviews about works now
forgotten while producing his own memerable tales and poems. And though he
never realized his dream of founding a literary magazine of his own, be contributed
to many, including those he edited. Aa a writer for popular periodicals like the
«Broadway Journals» and Graham’s «Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine», and as
an editor of literary periodicalssuch as the «Southern Literary Messenger» Poe
came to understand very well the audiences who read his work. He aimed his
work, as he wrote, «not above the popular, or below the critical, taste» turning the
fictional conventions of his own time to odd account. In tales such as «Ligeia» and
«The Fall of the House of Usher», for example he put his personal stamp on the
gothic horror story. He remodeled the tale of exploration in works like «A Descent
into theMaelstorm», and he developed the genre of the detective story, or «tale of
racionation» as he called it, with such stories as «The Gold Bug», «The Murders in
the Rue Morgue», and «The Purlioned Letter». Still another genre he touched on
was science fiction with his fantastic story» The Balloon Hoax». As various as was
Poe’s genius and as varied as were the fictional subgenres he worked in, one
element of his work remains consistent: his concern with the workings of the
Writers as diverse as Bandelaire and Dostoevsky admired Poe’s work.
Bandelaire, who translated many of Poe’s tales, in fact, acknowledged Poe’s
influence by writing that if Poe hadn’t existed Bandelaire would have had to invent
him. Dostoevsky was unstiuting in his praise of Poe’s revelations of minds at war
with thenselves. Although Dostoevsky’s own explorations of extreme states of
consciosness and his dramatic depictions of behavior honed by guilt are more
ambitious and monumental than Poe’s sketches and tales, the Russian writer felt a
kindship with Poe.
Poe’s life was as tormented as the minds of his stories narrators. He was
born to itinerant actors in Boston. His father died when he was a year old and his
mother a year later. Edgar was and his brother and sister were taken as foster
children into the Rome of a Richmond tobacco merchant, John Allan. Poe was
educated in England and at the University of Vifginia, where he was provided with
insafficient funds for food, books, and clothing by John Allan. Living among
wealthy young men, Poe resorted to gambling, wich further worsened his financial
situation and contributed what was an already seriously strained relationship with
his foster father, who disapproved of his literary ambitions. The upshot was that
Poe withdrew from the university and was left to make his own way as an author.
In 1837 he moned his familyfrom Baltimore to New York, where he
published his only full-length fictional work, «The Narrative of Arthur Gordon
Pym». In 1840 he published his «Tales of the Grotesqu and Arabesque» (1840).
Poe borrowed the terms «grotesque» and «arabesque» from the Romantic poet and
novelist Sir Walter Scott, and meant them to suggest the terror associated with the
bizarre and the beautiful associated with the poetic. He also meant to suggest that
both elements were present in many stories in his collection.
«The Fall of the House of Usher» is among Poe’s most famous and most
accomplished tales. The house that falls is both the literal Usher habitation and the
family it signifies. The house also represents the mind of Roderick Usher. In its
density of detail, bizarre events, and uncanny tone, the story suggest gothic fiction.
In its psychological richness and fainted family history, it reaches back to Greek
«The Cask of Amontillado» examplifies Poe’s genius at displaying a mad
narrator whose intent is to convince his listeners of his sanity. Perhaps Poe’s best –
known example of this type is the narrator of «The Tell – Tale Heart». But «The
Cask of Amontilado» is an even richer story, with Poe pulling out all the stops in
displaying multiple ironies while his narrator fels compelled to tell somebody of
the perfect murder he committed fifty years before. The question is why he tells
this tale after so many years.
In «The Purloined Letter» Poe gives way to his bent for stories of crime and
punishment, this time from the outside point of view of the detective rather than
from inside the criminals mind. Rather than considering what he would have done
in like circumstances, the detective, Monsieur Dupin, must try to think the way the
criminal thought, which is precisely what he does en route to to solving the case.
The story celebrates Poe’s appreciation of the rational mind and contains a number
of examples of riddles and games in which Poe delighted. It also ends with an
elaborate puzzle built on a complex literary allusion, which contains the key Poe
uses to unlock the inticacies of the story’s plot.
Poe’s fictional performances delighted audience in his own time continue to
engage and intrigue readers today. Even though his style is ornate and his language
far from colloquial, he remains a most readable writer, largely because he builds
suspense, creates atmosphere, and probes the psychological complexities of his
characters’ minds and hearts. If it is the horror of his stories that first draws readers
in, it is Poe’s psychological richness and his control of tone that continue to bring
them back for repeated readings of some inmatchable stories.
Transcendentalism emerged in the 30ies. This time witnessed noticeable
sharpening of capitalist contradictions. People began their strikes, workers uprising
and unions helped the appearance of romanticists, who stood agains mercantalism.
There began chasses after dollars. The new literary trend leaked upon the aesthetics
of romanticism and it was a new branch of romanticism.
In 1836 there was founded «Transcendentalist Club» at the head of which
stood Ralph Waldo Emerson. The members of the Club were Henry David Thorean
(1817–1862), Teodore Parker, George Reeply, Amos Alcolt, Elizabeth Pibody,
Margaret Fuller (1810–1850) and others.
Transcendentalism is a specific American philosophical and literary trend.
To transcend something is to rise above it, to pass beyond its limits.
Transcendentalism is based on the belief that the most fundamental truths
about life and death can be reached only by senses. The transcendentalism believed
that each and every man and woman living as a true individual, free from restrain
dogma and dull habits of thought, could know something spiritual reality but could
not know it through logic or the data of the senses.
Transcendentalists did not have a strict doctrine or code. This trend is more
a tendency, an attitude, than it is a philosophy.
Nature played an impotant role in the trenscendentalist view. Nature was
divine, alive with spirit, the human mind could read nature, find truths in it. To live
in harmony with nature, to allow one^s deepest intaitive being to communicate
with nature, was a source of goodness and inspiration.
The trnscendentalists believed that deep intaition of a stiritual reality is
available to us only if we allow ourselves to be individuals, and Transcentalist
writing places a strong emphasis on individualism.
Trenscendentalists assert that the powers of the individual mind and soul are
equally available to all people. These powers are not dependent upon wealth or
background or education. We all have a potential equality as spiritual beings, and
the divinity within each of us can be realized by the learned minister and the
scholar. For Emerson every person can be a kind of poet, realising individual
Society, with its emphasis on material succes, is often seen as a source of
The tone of transcendentalism writing is often optimistic and aspiring. It
frequently suggests that the individual, in hormony with the divine universe, can
transform the world. The New England movement, as represented by Emerson and
others, has characterized by the absence of a forcual system of thought, the
exeltation of the spiritual in a general sense over the material, and the immanence
of the divine all the creation, especially as set forth in Emerson’s «Oversoul».
Transcendentalists state that only practice, experience, the surrounding world form
a person. They thought that a man is by birth inherent in undestending truth and
errors, good and evil and that these ideas transcendental, i.e. they come to a man
without experience. But the transcendentalists condemned the moral and the
practice of bourgeois America, its ideals. Transcendentalism became a kind of a
protest form of American intellegentia against aethetically pushing sides of
capitalist progress in the USA.
Transcendentalists thought that the society would develop homoniously, if
evry person did his best. At the same time the transcendentalists were anxious
about the corruption of the American society, wallowed in mercenary calculations,
which ignored spiritual interestes.
Rejecting Calvinism and the materialism of society, Emerson and Thoreau
asserted their beliefs in deism, in individualism and self-reliance, and in the for
national literature. These ideas, most clearly expressed in Emerson’s
«Nature» (1836) or «Self-Reliance» (1841) and in Thoreau’s «Walden» (1854) or
«Civil Disobedience» (1848), directly influenced three groups of writers:
The writers of the «American Renaissance», Hawthorne, Poe and Melvill,
whose symbolic and imaginative works are however more pessimistic, dealing
with the individual caught between his own values and those of society, (cf. Edgar
Allan Poe’s «Tales»; Nathaniel Hawthrone’s «The Scarlet Letter» (1850) or «The
House of the Seven Gables» (1851); Herman Melville’s «Moby Dick» (1851).
Walt Whitman, the prophet and seer, the believer in democracy, in the
vitality of man and in the necessary emergency of an American poetry («Leaves of
The Schoolroom or Household Poets, Longfellow, Lowell and Whittier, so
called because of the tremendous popularity of their works which were read at
home and in school. They often used historical themes, folk materials, and
traditional forms such as the ballad (e.g. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s
«Evangeline», 1847, or «The Song of Hiawatha», 1855); John Greenleaf Whitter’s
«Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyll» (1866); James Russell Lowell’s «The Biglow
Papers» (1846–1848), and «A Fable for Critics» (1848).
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s life was rather quiet and well ordered, but it was
full of ideas. Emerson was born in Boston. He attended Harvard University,
studied theology. In 1829 he became a Unitarian minster. He made a trip to Europe
after the trip he settled in the village of Concord, Massachusetts. At Concord he
became a member of the Transcendental Club. It was at Concord that Emerson
composed his first book, treatise «Nature» (1836). His address called «The
American Sholar» (1837) has been an inspiration to generations of young
Americans. Emerson achieved national fame after his «Essays» in 1841. Then
came «Essays: Second Series» (1844), «Representative Men» (1849) and «The
Conduct of Live» (1860).
When he was a young man, Emerson began writing what he called his
«Savings Bank» the remarkable journals and notebooks that were not published in
full until almost a centure after his death. We read in those writings his daily
thoughts and observations. He traveled widely throughout the coutry, delivering
lectures in a rich and beautiful voice. His optimism, his believe in the vast
possibilities of mind and spirit suited the American nation.
He wanted us to live in harmony with nature. He said that the universal spirit
is the sorce of all unity and growth. Emerson was sure that if we «see truly»… we
will «live truly».
«Nature» is a lyrical expression of the harmony Emerson felt between
himself and nature. «Self – Reliance» (a treatise) is also at the core of Emerson’s
Whenever the romantic mind turns to philosophical speculation, it is quick
emphasize that which is innate or intuitiul in preference to that which is rational or
intellectual. In America during the first half of the nineteenth century there grew up
a coterie of such thinkers who came to be known as Transcendentalists, although
the name was used very loosely and vaguely to define almost any writer of mistical
indinations. There was general agreement, however, that a «transcendalist»
believed for the most part that man’s ideas, ideals, and beliefs were not to be based
on experience alone, but rather should transcend exp. The whole tendency of these
thinkers was to revolt against the empirical, «take-the-world-as-you-find-it»
philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth century deists.
Among these American transcendentalists Emerson was by far the greatest
and most influential. He was born in Boston, the son of a minister, and prepared
himself to follow in his father’s path. He graduated from Harvard in 1821, an
average student with, however, some unusual promise in the writing of poetry and
in oratory as well as general intellectual aliveness. He proceeded at once to divinity
school and in 1829 became pastor of the Second Church in Boston.
But his inquisitive mind had already outgrown the limitations of creed and
dogma. He found himself unable to administer with conviction the Sacrament of
the Last Supper, proposing to omit it from his ministerial service: and when his
congregation failed to support him on this issue, he resigned from the ministry
(1882). After a trip to Europe, in the course of which he met Wordworth,
Coleridge, and Carlyle, he returned to settle in the quiet village of Coneord,
Massachusetts (1834), where he became known as the great secular preacher of his
age. His full recognition asa a major American writer had been achieved by the
tince if the American Civil War.
Emerson wrote essays and distinguished verse. The long line of useful
essays was inaugurated by «Nature» (1836), which is an admirable statement, not
only of the romantic veneration and warship of Nature, expressed it in verse, but
also of the majority of Emerson’s favourite moral ideas. «The American
Scholar» (1837) is in most respects the true Declaration of Independence for
American thought and American literature;» The Divinity Shcool Address» (1838)
caused a sensation and alienated Emerson from Harvard for some thirty years. His
essays and lectures were gathered into three collections: one in 1841, another in
1844, a third in 1849.
«Representative Men» (1850) consists of a group of biographical essays
suggested by his friend Carlyle’s «Heraes and Hero-Worship»; these two works are
classic statements of the importance to 19th century thought of the lonely but
mighty individual genius, are idea which reaches a logical conclusion in Nietzsche
and his concept of the Superman.
«English Traits» (1856) recounts his pleasant experiences on a trip to
England» The Conflict of Life «(1860) is in reality a fourth book of essays. His
poems were collected in 1847. No consederation of Emerson’s work, moreover,
canomit the Journals, not published for the first time as a whole until1909–1914.
Emerson is not a systematic philosopher; rather he gives the impression of
one thinking about in comptete freedom. It is useless to attempt to outlinein brief a
typical Emerson essay. His style is aphoristic; his paragraphs are often strings of
pithy sayings, and his sentences are more often terse than periodic. His gift of
utterance is always arresting, however and his felicity of phrase is often
memorable. Moreover, always there lies a fundamental unity down underneath all
his superticial formlessness. This unity comprehends and is altrehed to one or more
of the following tenets of his thought, most of them obviously Platonic; reality is
of spiritual nature: to rely on oneself rather than on others is of supreme
significance: man is born to hope and fight toward some chosen goal. With such
valiant weapons in his arsenal, Emerson fully deserves the encomium of Matthew
Arnold, who called him «the friend and aider of those who would live in the
In America during the first half of the XIX century there grew up a coterie of
such thinkers who came to be known as Trauceudentalists, although the name was
used very loosely and vaguely to define almost any writer of mistical inclinations.
There was general agreement, however that a «transendentalist» believed for the
most part that man’s ideas, and were not to be fasel on experrience alone but rather
should transcend experience. The whole tendence of these thinkers was to revolt
against the emprical «take-the-world-as-you-find-it» philosophy of the 1718
century deists. Among these transcendentalists Emerson was by for the greatest
and most influental. He was born in Boston the son of a Uniterian minister and
prepared himself to follow in his fathers path. He graduated from Harvard in 1821
an avarage student with however some unsual promise writing of poetry and in the
writing as well as in general intellectual aliveness. He proceeded at once to divinity
1829 became of the Second Church in Boston.
But in his inquisitive mind had already outgrown the limitations of creed and
dogma. He found himself unable to a minister with conviction the Sacrement of the
Last supper proposing to omit it from his ministerial service and when his
congregation failed to support him on this issue he resigned from the ministry
(1832).After a trip to Europe in the course of which he met Wordsworth Coleridge,
and Carlyle he returned to settle in the quite village of Concord Massachusetts
(1834), which was to be his home for the remaining half-century of his life. Here
he became known as the great secular preacher of his age his sermons were
delivered chiefly from the lecture platform where he proved himself an ideal man
to fill the part demanded by the Cravings of XIX century Americans for culture
and «uplift» by way of the lyceum and later the Chantauqua circuits. his full
recognition as a major American writer had been achieved by the time of the
American Civil War.
The recognition was based in chief measure upon Emerson s essays,
although he wrote some often distinguished verse. The long line of useful essays
was inaugurated by «Nature» (1836), which is an admirable statement, not only of
the romantic veneration and warship of Nature expressed in prose where
Worsworth expressed it in verse but also of the Emerson s favourite moral ideas.
«The American Sendar» (1837» is in most respects the true declaration of
independence for American thought and literature it is the first notable plea for
America to stand on her own culturally speaking.» The Divinity School
Adress» (1838), in which Emerson sought to justify his unorthodox beliefs before
graduating class of the Harvard divinity school caused a sensation and alienated
Emerson from Harvard for some thirty years. Subsequently his essays and lectures
were gathered into three collections: one in 1841, another in 1844, a third in 1849.»
Representative men» (1850) consists of a group of biographical essays suggested
by his friend Carlyle s ‘Heroes and Hero – Worship». These two works are classic