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American Literature

American Literature

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American Literature

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  1. American Literature Book I

  2. Table of Contents • Introduction • Brief Outline of American Literature • Chapter I Colonial Period • Chapter II Revolutionary PeriodBenjamin FranklinPhilip Freneau • Chapter III American RomanticismWashington IrvingJames Fenimore CooperWilliam Cullen BryantEdgar Allan PoeNathaniel Hawthorne

  3. Introduction • What is literature?Writings that are valued as works of art, esp. fiction, drama and poetry. • Forms (genres) of literature?Poetry, novel (fiction), drama, prose, essay, epic, elegy, short story, journalism, sermon, (auto) biography, travel accounts, novelette, etc.

  4. Puritanism in America • They follow the ideas of the Swiss reformer John Calvin. • Doctrines:- Predestination- Original sin and total depravity (human beings are basically evil.)- Limited atonement (or the Salvation of a selected few) • Puritan values (creeds):Hard work, thrift, piety, sobriety, simple tastes.Puritans are more practical, tougher, and to be ever ready for any misfortune and tragic failure.They are optimistic.

  5. Puritanism in America • Why did Puritans come to America?- to reform the Church of England- to have an entirely new church- to escape religious persecution* God’s chosen people* To seek a new Garden of Eden* To build “City of God on earth”

  6. Puritanism in America • Influence - American Puritanism was one of the most enduring shaping influences in American thought and American literature.- American literature is based on a myth, i.e. the Biblical myth of the Garden of Eden.- Puritanism can be compared with Chinese Confucianism.

  7. Brief Outline of American literature • Realism (1861-1914)Mark TwainHenry JamesNaturalism:Stephen CraneTheodore Dreiser • The 1920sT.S. EliotWilliam FaulknerErnest Hemingway (Lost Generation)Imagism: Ezra Pound • Colonial period (1607-1775)Anne BradstreetEdward Taylor • Revolutionary period (1775-1783)Benjamin FranklinPhilip Freneau • Democratic Period (1783-1802) • Romanticism (1820-1861)Washington IrvingEdgar Allan PoeNathaniel Howthorne William Whitman* Transcendentalism * (New England Renaissance)Ralph Waldo EmersonFillip Thoreau

  8. Brief Outline of American literature • The Post-war SceneSaul BellowSalingerPoetry:Confessional PoetryBlack Mountain PoetsSan Francisco RenaissanceThe Beat GenerationThe New York Poets • The 1930sSteinbeckHarlem Renaissance(Black American literature)HughesWrightEllison • American DramaEugene O’Neill

  9. Chapter One Colonial Period (1607-1775)

  10. Three major poets in colonial period: • Anne Bradstreet • Michael Wigglesworth • Edward Taylor

  11. 1. Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) the first collection published by English colonists living in America the first noted poetess in colonial period • Anne Bradstreet’s Works“Some verses on the Burning of Our House”“The Spirit and the Flesh”The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America • Anne Bradstreet’s Life* She was born and educated in England.* At the age of 18, she came to America in 1630 with her father and husband. * She had 8 children.* She became known as the “Tenth Muse” who appeared in America.

  12. 2. Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705) the most popular poet in American Colonial Period Work: “The Day of Doom” (1662) 3. Edward Taylor (1642?-1729) the finest poet in colonial period Work: Preparatory Meditation

  13. Features of Colonial Poets • They were servants of God. • They faithfully imitated and transplanted English literary traditions. Puritan poets In English style

  14. Chapter Two “The Age of Reason” “American Enlightenment” Revolutionary Period (1775-1783)

  15. In the 18th century, people believed in man’s own nature and the power of human reason. With Franklin as its spokesman, the 18th century America experienced an age of reason. • Words had never been so useful and so important in human history. People wrote a lot of political writings. Numerous pamphlets and printings were published. These works agitated revolutionary people not only in America but also around the world.

  16. The 18th-century American Enlightenment was a movement marked by an emphasis on rationality rather than tradition, scientific inquiry instead of unquestioning religious dogma, and representative government in place of monarchy. • Enlightenment thinkers and writers were devoted to the ideals of justice, liberty, and equality as the natural rights of man. • The colonists who would form a new nation were firm believers in the power of reason; they were ambitious, inquisitive, optimistic, practical, politically astute, and self-reliant.

  17. Leading writers and their works • Thomas Jefferson(1743-1826): The Declaration of Independence (1776) • Thomas Paine(1737-1809): Common Sense (1776) • Benjamin Franklin: Autobiography • Philip Freneau: “The Wild Honey Suckle”

  18. 1. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

  19. 《自传》 1. Works 《格言历书》 • The Autobiography • Poor Richard’s Almanack 2. Life • Benjamin Franklin came from a Calvinist background. • He was born into a poor candle-maker’s family. He had very little education. He learned in school only for two years, but he was a voracious reader. • At 12, he was apprenticed to his elder half-brother, a printer. • At 16, he began to publish essays under the pseudonym “Silence Do good” . • At 17, he ran away to Philadelphia to make his own fortune. • He set himself up as an independent printer and publisher. In 1727 he founded the Junto club.

  20. Franklin’s Contributions to Society • He helped found the Pennsylvania Hospital. • He founded an academy which led to the University of Pennsylvania. • And he helped found the American Philosophical Society. • Franklin’s Contributions to Science • He was also remembered for volunteer fire departments, effective street lighting, the Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and efficient heating devices. • And for his lightning-rod, he was called “the new Prometheus who had stolen fire from heaven.” • Franklin’s Contributions to the U.S. • He was the only American to sign the four documents that created the United States: The Declaration of Independence, The Treaty of Alliance with France, The Treaty of Peace with England, The Constitution

  21. 3. Evaluation • TheAutobiography is a record of self-examination and self-improvement. • Benjamin Franklin was a spokesman for the new order of the 18th century enlightenment • TheAutobiography is a how-to-do-it book, a book on the art of self-improvement. (for example, Franklin’s 13 virtues) • Through telling a success story of self-reliance, the book celebrates, in fact, the fulfillment of the American dream. • The Autobiography is in the pattern of Puritan simplicity, directness, and concision.

  22. “Poet of the American Revolution” “Father of American Poetry” “Pioneer of the New Romanticism” “A gifted and versatile lyric poet” 2. Philip Freneau (1752-1832)

  23. 《美洲光辉的兴起》 1. Works • “The Rising Glory of America” (1772) • “The House of Night” (1779, 1786) • “The British Prison Ship” (1781) • “To the Memory of the Brave Americans” (1781) • “The Wild Honey Suckle” (1786) • “The Indian Burying Ground” (1788) • “The Dying Indian: Tomo Chequi” 《夜之屋》 《英国囚船》 《纪念美国勇士》 《野金银花》 《奄奄一息的印第安人:托姆·察吉》 《印第安人墓地》

  24. 2. Life • He was born in New York. • At 16, he entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). • While still an undergraduate, he wrote in collaboration with one of his friends (H. H. Brackenridge) a poem entitled “The Rising Glory of America”. The wild honeysuckle ( It pronounced the virtues of a new nation progressing towards its freedom; America would be a land blessed with “sweet liberty!/Without whose aid the nobles genius fails,/And science irretrievable must die”) • In 1771 he decided do a postgraduate study in theology. But two years later he gave it up. • Later he attended the War of Independence, and he was captured by British army in 1780. • After being released, he published “The British Prison Ship” in 1781. • In the same year, he published “To the Memory of the Brave Americans”. • After war, he supported Jefferson, and contributed greatly to American government. • But after 50 years old, he lived in poverty. And at last he died in a blizzard.

  25. 3. Evaluation • He was the most significant poet of 18th century America. • Some of his themes and images anticipated the works of such 19th century American Romantic writers as Cooper, Emerson, Poe and Melville. 4. Aspects of Freneau • Poet of American Independence: Freneau provides incentive and inspiration to the revolution by writing such poems as "The Rising Glory of America" and "Pictures of Columbus." • Journalist: Freneau was editor and contributor of The Freeman's Journal (Philadelphia) from 1781-1784. In his writings, he advocated the essence of what is known as Jeffersonian democracy - decentralization of government, equality for the masses, etc. • Freneau's Religion: Freneau is described as a deist - a believer in nature and humanity but not a pantheist. In deism, religion becomes an attitude of intellectual belief, not a matter of emotional of spiritual ecstasy. Freneau shows interest and sympathy for the humble and the oppressed. • Freneau as Father of American Poetry: His major themes are death, nature, transition, and the human in nature. All of these themes become important in 19th century writing. His famous poems are "The Wild Honey-Suckle" (1786), "The Indian Burying Ground" (1787), "The Dying Indian: Tomo Chequi" (1784), "The Millennium" (1797), "On a Honey Bee" (1809), "To a Caty-Did" (1815), "On the Universality and Other Attributes of the God of Nature," "On the Uniformity and Perfection of Nature," and "On the Religion of Nature" (the last three written in 1815).

  26. Poem Appreciation • The Wild Honeysuckle • The following poem was published in his Poems (1786) and was virtually unread in the time when he was living. • In the poem the poet expresses his keen awareness of the liveliness and transience of nature celebrating the beauty of the frail forest flower, thus showing his deep love for nature. • The poem was written in six-line iambic tetrameter stanzas rhymed on ababccpattern. • The poem is said to anticipate the nineteenth-century romantic use of simple nature imagery. • It is considered one of the author’s finest nature poems.

  27. Fair flower, that dost so comely grow, Hid in this silent, dull retreat, Untouch’d thy honey’d blossoms blow, Unseen thy little branches greet: No roving foot shall crush thee here, No busy hand provoke a tear. By Nature’s self in white array’d, She bade thee shun the vulgar eye, And planted here the guardian shade, And sent soft waters murmuring by; Thus quietly thy summer goes, Thy days declining to repose.

  28. Smit with those charms, that must decay, I grieve to see your future doom, They died----nor were those flowers more gay, The flowers that did in Eden bloom; Unpitying frosts, and Autumn’s power Shall leave no vestige of this flower. From morning suns and evening dews At first thy little being came: If nothing once, you nothing lose, For when you die you are the same; The space between, is but an hour, The frail duration of a flower.

  29. The Indian Burying Ground • The poem was published in the poet’s Miscellaneous Works in 1788. • Like “The Wild Honey Suckle”, it anticipated romantic primitivism and the celebration of the “noble savage”. • The poem portrays sympathetically the spirit of the nomadic Indian hunters, who were traditionally buried in a sitting position and with images of the objects they knew in life. • It is believed to be the earliest to romanticize the Indian as a child of nature. • The poem was written in ten iambic tetrameter quatrains with the rhyme scheme of “abab”.

  30. In spite of all the learned have said; I still my old opinion keep, The posture, that we give the dead, Points out the soul’s eternal sleep. Not so the ancients of these lands— The Indian, when from life released, Again is seated with his friends, And shares again the joyous feast. His imaged birds, and painted bowl, And venison, for a journey dressed. Bespeak the nature of the soul, Activity, that knows no rest.

  31. His bow, for action ready bent, And arrows, with a head of stone, Can only mean that life is spent, And not the old ideas gone. Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way. No fraud upon the dead commit— Observe the swelling turf, and say They do not lie, but here they sit. Here still a lofty rock remains, On which the curious eye may trace, (Now wasted, half, by wearing rains) The fancies of a ruder race.

  32. Here still an aged elm aspires, Beneath whose far—projecting shade (And which the shepherd still admires) The children of the forest played! There oft a restless Indian queen (Pale Shebah, with her braided hair) And many a barbarous form is seen To chide the man that lingers there. By midnight moons, o’er moistening dews, In habit for the chase arrayed, The hunter still the deer pursues, The hunter and the deer, a shade!

  33. And long shall timorous fancy see The painted chief, and pointed spear, And Reason’s self shall bow the knee To shadows and delusions here.

  34. Chapter Three American Romanticism (1820-1860)

  35. General Introduction “ Romanticism The term ,Romanticism, is associated with imagination and boundlessness, as contrasted with classicism, which is commonly associated with reason and restriction. The most profound and comprehensive idea of romanticism is the vision of a greater personal freedom for the individual.

  36. Its origins may be traced to : • the economic rise of the middle class, struggling to free itself from feudal and monarchical restrictions; • the individualism of the Renaissance; • the Reformation, which was based on the belief in an immediate relationship between man and God; • the scientific deism, which emphasized the deity’s benevolence;

  37. the psychology of Locke, Hartley, and others, who contended that minds are formed by environmental conditions, thus seeming to be indicate that all men are created equal and may be improved by environmental changes; • the optimistic humanitarianism of Shaftsbury; • the writings of Rousseau who contended that man is natural good, institutions also having made him wicked.

  38. Romantic Attitudes • 1. Appeals to imagination; use of the "willing suspension of disbelief." • 2. Stress on emotion rather than reason; optimism, geniality. • 3. Subjectivity: in form and meaning.

  39. 1. Time Range • From the end of the 18th century through the outbreak of the Civil War.

  40. 2. Ideals: • Ideals: Democracy and political equality became the ideals of the new nation.

  41. 3. Social Background • Economic boom: Industrialism Immigration Westward expansion optimism and hope among people

  42. 4. Features • American Romanticism was both imitative and independent. Imitative Independent English and European Romanticists Emerson and Whitman

  43. 5. Themes: • home, family, nature, children and idealized love, etc. • Imitative • Independent • major problems of American life, like the westward expansion and democracy and equality, etc.

  44. Washington Irving (1783--1859) • “Father of American Imaginative literature” • “Father of the American short story”

  45. 1) Works • A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty by Diedrich Knickerbocker 《纽约外史》

  46. The Sketch Bookof Geoffrey Crayon, Gent • “Rip Van Winkle” • “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” 《见闻札记》 《瑞普·凡·温克尔》 《睡谷的传说》

  47. 《布雷斯布里奇庄园》 c) Bracebridge Hall 1822 d) Oliver Goldsmith1840 e) Life of George Washington 1855-1859 《哥尔德斯密斯》 《华盛顿传》

  48. 2)Life • Irving was born into a wealthy New York merchant family. From a very early age, he began to read widely and write juvenile poems, essays and plays. Later, he studied law.

  49. His first book A History of New York, written under the name of Diedrich Knickerbocker, was a great success and won him wide popularity. • In 1815, he went to England to take care of his family business there, and when it failed, had to write to support himself.

  50. With the publication of The Sketch Book, he won a measure of international recognition. Knickerbocker Rip Van Winkle