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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

– will.

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

future generations.

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

social institutions.

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

happy end.

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

symbolist movement.

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

human mind.

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.

The Transcendentalists

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

imaginative power.

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

Grass», 1855).

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

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