American Literature Survey

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I. The birth of American nation:

the early period of the American state, mostly 2nd half of the 18th century non-fiction: Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) creation of the state, philosophy of American nation Thomas Paine (1739-1809) ideas of the new state; “Common Sense” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) „melting pot“; “The declaration of Independence”

American Renaissance

non-fiction: Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) environmentalism, transcendentalism D. Thoreau (1817-62)

fiction: Washington Irwing (1783-59) Rip Van Winkle; The Legend of Sleepy Hollow J.F. Cooper (1789-51) Leather-Stocking Tales E. A. Poe (1809-49) crime and horror stories, critical essays, poetry The Pit and the Pendulum; The Black Cat The Decline of the House of Usher The Gold Bug The Murders in the Rue Morgue The Raven

N. Hawthorne (1804-64) The Birthmark Scarlet Letter H. Mellwille (1819-91) Mobby Dick

Characteristic features, topics: romanticism; the USA * England, native Indians, ideal personal features and heroes; mysteries and symbols; the beginnings of horror-story, crime-story, mystery, culmination, surprising endings; unhappy love.............. sea stories; universal mystery: people often destroy (or fight against what they cannot understand)

Realism and Naturalism: 2nd half of 19th century

Mark Twain (1835-1910) Adventures of Tom Sawyer Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Innocents Abroad; Roughing it The Gilded Age „hoaxes“ - The Celebrated Jumping Frog

Jack London (1876-1916) Martin Eden The Sea-Wolf Call of the Wild The White Fang The Call of the Wild: Buck, a sledge-dog, is taken from his easy life in California and sent to frozen lands of Alaska with his master John Thornton, who is eventually killed by Indians. Buck survives, because he is a “superior individual.” In the end he returns to the world of his ancestors and becomes the leader of a pack of wolves.”

Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) Sister Carrie American tragedy

Poetry Walt Whitman (1819-92) Leaves of Grass

Characteristic features, topics: humour, irony, “the golden fever”, life in America, Mississippi river, autobiography; realism and naturalism; characters trying to survive in the cruel capitalist society

Lost Generation: 20th. the literature between the wars

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1869-1940) Tales of the Jazz Age The Great Gatsby Tender is the Night

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) Main Street Babbit Arrowsmith

John dos Passos (1896-1917) Manhattan Transfer 42nd Parallel 1919 The Big Money

Willa Cather (1873-1947) Neighbour Rosicky; My Antonia

William Faulkner (1897-1962) The Sound and the Fury As I Lay Dying Light in August Absalom, Absalom! Snopes Trilogy · experimental style; the world of his own, called „Yoknapatawpha“

Other representatives (Southern Renaissance”); loneliness, human isolation, discrimination, disability to communicate, sadness Eudora Welty (*1909-?) Carston Mc Cullers (1917-1967) The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Lost Generation, modernism Ernst Hemingway (1898-1961) The Moveable Feast The Sun also Rises A Farewell to the Arms Death in the Afternoon The Green Hills of Africa The Snows of Kilimanjaro For Whom the bell Tolls The Old man and the sea A Farewell to the Arms: The novel with the main characters Frederic and Catherine, two lowers during the war. Their love is actually a special world in the middle of the war, where they consider themselves to be alone against the others. Eventually, they make their own separate peace by running away to Switzerland, where there is no war. Catherine dies giving birth, destroying the dream of happiness together they had wished for. Frederic becomes a bitter person, claiming to be ignored by God.

The Prose in the Thirties

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) Of Mice and men The Grapes of Wrath East of Eden The Travels with Charley

The Forties and Fifties; after-war literature: the great variety of streams and tendencies

War and political topics Norman Mailer (*1923) The Naked and Dead Violent and realistic, violent novel about the second World War. Why are we in Vietnam? Irwin Shaw (*1914)

Jewish writers (Jewish, or “jiddish” culture) Isaac Baskevis Singer (*1904) Saul Bellow (*1915) Bernard Malamud (*1914) J. D. Salinger (*1919) The Catcher in the Rye An unhappy teenager, Holden Caufield, runs away from the private school where he is living. To him, the school and his teachers are part of the “phony” world of adults. Holden dreams of moving out West. “he wants to “build a little cabin somewhere and live there the rest of my life … near the woods, but not right in them”. But soon he realizes that “You can’t find a place that is nice and peaceful, because there isn’t any.” Holden’s story ends with him under medical treatment.But even after that he fgets well, he still refuses to believe in the phony adult words.

Sci-fiction topics Ray Bradbury (*1920) The Martian Cronicles Isaac Asimov (*1920)

The Sixties and Seventies

Kurt Vonnegut (*1922) Slaughterhouse Five

Joseph Heller (*1921) Catch 25 Good as Gold

anti-war novels, absurd humour, post-realism William Styron (1925) Lie in the Darkness Set this House in the Fire Nat Turner’s Confession Sofia’s Choice southern writer, isolated characters, loneliness, difficult situations; the history of the black people in the American South

John Updike (*1932) Rabbit series Rabbit,Run Rabbit Redux Rabbit is Rich The Centaur modern version of the “American dream”; the life story of a typical American; generation problems

V. Nabokov (1899-1977) Lolita the story of the prohibited love to the 15-year old girl

The Beaten Generation They were very critical to the era of 60s and early 70s; in the era of Vietnam War they revolted and they did not succeed, this was why they felt somehow beaten. Jack Kerouac (1922-69) On the Road – a new genre of “road story” Allen Ginsberg, G. Snyder, L. Ferlinghetti poetry

Others Ken Kesey (*1935 - 2001) The Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest C. Oates (*1938) J. Irwing (1942) Truman Capote (1924-84)

American drama

Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953) Mourning Becomes Electra

Tennessee Williams (1911-1923) Orpheus Decending The Streetcar Named Desire Sweet Birth of Youth The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Arthur Miller (*1915) Death of a Salesman

Absurd drama: Edward Albee (*1928) The Zoo Story Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?