American Literature in 60 Minutes. “In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book? or goes to an American play?” – Sidney Smith, 1820
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American Literature in 60 Minutes
“In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book? or goes to an American play?” – Sidney Smith, 1820
“Some thinkers may object to this essay, that we are about to write of that which has, as yet, no existence.” –Margaret Fuller, in her 1846 essay “American Literature”
“Ah, yes, American Literature. I must take an afternoon and read it some time.”—Allan Carroll, former University of Tennessee English Dept. Chair and terminal Brithead
John Smith’s 1608 “A True Relation”
Smith as 1st-person master negotiator
Indians: Savage but can be worked with
No Pocahontas Rescue story!
John Smith’s 1624 “Generall Historie”
Smith as swashbuckling, 3rd-person hero
Indians: Savage but subduable
Pocahontas: Forest Fever
“Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembered by that which went before), they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to entertain or refresh their weatherbeaten bodies; no houses or much less town torepair to, to seek for succour…. And for the season it was winter, and they that know the winters of that country know them to be sharp and violent, and subject-to cruel and fierce storms, dangerous to travel to known places, much more to search an unknown coast. Besides, what could they see but a hideous and desolate wilderness, fall of wild beasts and wild men—and what multitudes there might be of them they knew not.”
“Prologue”: “I am obnoxious to each carping tongue/Who says my hand a needle better fits.”
“The Author to Her Book”: I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,/And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw./I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet.”
“Verses Upon the Burning of Our House”: “Farewell, my pelf; farewell, my store./The world no longer let me love;/My hope and Treasure lies above.”
“In Honour of that High and Mighty Princess, Queen Elizabeth”: “She hath wip'd off th' aspersion of her Sex,/ That women wisdom lack to play the Rex….Let such as say our sex is void of reason/ Know 'tis a slander now, but once was treason.”
Pound: “In a Station of the Metro” (1913)
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
(this is the entire poem, pared from a 36-line original)
William Carlos Williams: “The Red Wheelbarrow” (1923)
so much dependsupon
a red wheelbarrow
glazed with rainwater
beside the whitechickens.