American literature

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Autor: apfel
Typ práce: Referát
Dátum: 03.11.2008
Jazyk: Angličtina
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Till the first half of the 19th century was American literature only about conditions of the settlement in the New World. American romanticism was connected with nationalism. They were proud of the American intellectual tradition which created their republic.

Washington Irving wrote on American topics - The History of New York, essays on American life, a large biography of George Washington. One of his well-known books is The Sketch book. James Fenimore Cooper was brought up in a pioneer settlement, with plenty of time to be with American Indians and talk to them. He beca-me a widely read author of novels of heroism and adventure - mainly the Leather-Stockings Tales - The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder and The Pioneers. The chief character of the series is Natty Bumppo, also called „Hawkeye“. In his cha-racter Cooper idealized the typical frontiersman of the early pioneering epoch.

Walt Whitman was a poet of democracy and freedom and he made the American poetry independent on European. He influenced the whole modern poetry with rhythmical free verse which was his inno-vation. Edgar Allan Poe was a poet and short story writer, critical essayist and the founder of science fiction and detective story. He was a journalist and edited several American magazines, in which he published his literary critics and some short stories. He tried to write poetry but wasn't successful until 1845 when he published The Raven. He wrote wonderful short stories such as The Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Fall of the House of Usher, The Black Cat, The Golden Bug or The Pit and The Pendu-lum. Ralph Waldo Emerson was the leading philosopher in the transcendentalist movement. It was based on the doctrine of free will, the individual conscience and the sense of right.

Herman Melville was the greatest symbolist, he sailed on seas for many years. His experiences at sea were the basis for almost all his novels. The most famous novel is Moby Dick, the symbolic story of captain Achab striving against his own fate, for which the white whale Moby Dick means evil and meaning of life. The book culminates in the tension of the three-day hunt of Moby Dick which ends in a disaster - Captain Ahab, who wants to fight Moby-Dick alone, is pinned to whale’s body by his own harpoon. Mark Twain is one of the greatest American writers. His real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. He became famous as a humorist and story teller. His novel The Gilded Age gave the name to the whole period after the Civil war. His best books are based on his own expe-riences along the Mississippi - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. These books describe the adventures of boyhood.

The quick development in America at the end of the 19th century in industry, trade and the manufac-turing goods gave rise to many problems. Author first try to describe the life, where money-making dominates, destroys human character and put aside all human values. Realism and naturalism was developed. Theodore Dreiser had a proletarian childhood and he became a reporter, editor and nove-list. His masterpiece is An American Tragedy. His hero is negative, he becomes a murderer, but it is not the hero who is to blame but the society and the system. Jack London became very popular due to describing adventurous life at the time of the Gold rush in his work The Call of the Wild. Martin Eden is a novel about a man who wants to be successful, achieve education and get himself to higher and better society. At the end he commits a suicide. This novel is autobiographical. His other works are The White Fang or The Sea-Wolf.

After the Great War a group of writers known as the "Lost Generation" entered literature. They were writers who were influenced by the war. Ernest Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954 for its famous book The Old Man and the Sea, which is about human strength. Hemingway became jour-nalist after war, he wrote for example A Farewell to Arms. Francis Scott Fitzgerald is connected with the Jazz Age of the 20´s. His best novel is Great Gatsby. Next important author is John Steinbeck. He won the Nobel Prize in 1962. He tried to uncover the reasons of social injustice. The Grapes of Wrath describes the depression following after the crisis of 1929. His other famous works are Of Mice and Men or Travels with Charley.

Norman Mailer is one of the best authors the Second World War. The Naked and the Dead is based on his own experiences in the Pacific. Joseph Heller wrote Catch-22, an antiwar novel connecting absurd black humour. Ray Bradbury is the outstanding author of warning science fiction literature. His best novels are Martian Chronicles or Fahrenheit 451. 20th century is connected with development of drama too. The most famous author is Tennessee Williams. He wrote Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
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