American Literature from 1600 Through the 1850s (The Britannica Guide to World Literature)
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Fiercely nationalistic, the first prominent American writers exhibited a profound pride in the territory that would come to be known as the United States. Predating even the Declaration of Independence, much early American writing entailed commentary on the newly developing American society. This volume examines the literature of the country in its nascence and writers such as Poe, Hawthorne, and Emerson, who helped cultivate a uniquely American voice.
we are throughout the whole of sacred history made to see that, in a moral sense, one man is not as good as another. The evildoer is punished, while they who are distinguished for their qualities and acts are intended to be preferred. The absolute moral and physical equality that is inferred by the maxim that “one man is as good as another” would at once do away with the elections, since a lottery would be both simpler, easier, and cheaper than the present mode of selecting representatives. Men,
country, Leaves of Grass is a celebration of the American spirit. More than that, it is a prime example of the powerful, influential writing that arose during this pivotal era in American literature. CHAPTER 1 EARLY AMERICAN LITERATURE L ike other national literatures, American literature was shaped by the history of the country that produced it. For almost a century and a half, America was merely a group of colonies scattered along the eastern seaboard of the North American
the literature of New England in this period of its greatest glory. The group consisted of several historians who combined scholarly methods learned abroad with vivid and dramatic narration. These included George Bancroft, author of History of the United States (completed in 12 volumes in 1882), and John Lothrop Motley, who traced the history of the Dutch Republic and the United Netherlands in nine fascinating volumes (1856–74). The leading member of the group was Francis Parkman, who, in a
infancy and youth, a pioneer work in social history that holds the interest of the reader no less than his narrative volumes. Parkman’s literary artistry is perhaps best studied in A Half-Century of Conflict (1892), completed shortly before his death. This final link in his history France and England in North America is a fascinating but complex account of events leading up to the French and Indian War. 173 7 American Literature from 1600 Through the 1850s 7 Assessment Parkman portrayed the
Whitman had a hard time winning a following because he was frank and unconventional in his Transcendental thinking, because he used free verse rather than rhymed or regularly metred verse, and because his poems were not conventionally organized. Nevertheless, he steadily gained the approval of critics and in time came to be recognized as one of the great poets of America. 180 7 The American Renaissance 7 Nathaniel Hawthorne (b. July 4, 1804, Salem, Mass., U.S.—d. May 19, 1864, Plymouth,