Unit7 American Literature
Background:American literature has recorded the story of a quest.
th?In the 16 century European came to the new world in search of the lost continent of Atlantis.
?At times ,the quest was a religious pilgrimage.
?In one way or anther ,however,it has always been a "pursuit of happiness". In a word,American Literature is the continuous narrative of pursuit. Early Fiction
Washington Irving ( 1783-1859 ) 华盛顿?欧文
1. A Brief Introduction to Washington Irving
?Neither a romantic or a neoclassical sentimentalist, Irving was a transitional figure with involvement and alienation. ( History of New York, 1809, neoclassical satire in
America; The Sketch Book, 1819, romantic )
?He was a critical figure in the development of an American literary consciousness, being the first to find a literary identity in a country without its own cultural heritage. ?He was an important writer of the “School” of Knickerbockers, which came from Washington Irving’s pseudonym, Diedrich Knickerbocker.
?He was a man of his time rather than for all time, describing and recording his world.
2. His main work
A History of New York from the Creation of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty,
History is divided into 7 books: Book 1, the creation of the world, Book 2 the settlement of New Netherlands and the reigns of three Dutch governors, Book 3 Wouter van Twiller, Book 4 William Kieft and Books 5-7 Peter Stuyvesant
James Fenimore Cooper ( 1789-1851) 詹姆斯?弗尼莫尔?库珀
1. A Brief Introduction to Cooper
?He was the very first America’s literary conservationist ( The Pioneers, 1823 ).
?American values---individualism, unsophisticated and noble, freedom in the West 2. His main works
?The Spy was an exciting story of espionage in New York during the Revolution ?The Leatherstocking Tales；皮袜子五部曲，: The Deerslayer《猎鹿者》, 1841, The
Last of the Mohicans, 1826, The Pathfinder《探路者》, 1840, The Pioneers《 拓荒
者》, 1823, The Prairie 《大草原》1827; the central figure---Natty Bumppo
What is Transcendentalism?Transcendentalism was a literary movement that
flourished during the middle 19th Century (1836 – 1860).It began as a rebellion
against traditionally held beliefs by the English Church that God superseded the individual.
Ralph Waldo Emerson ( 1803-1882 ) 拉尔夫•华尔多•爱默生
1. A Brief Introduction to Ralph Waldo Emerson
?The Founder of Transcendentalism
?Father was a famous minister who encouraged young Ralph to pursue philosophy at a young age.
2. His main work
Nature: Emerson claimed that by studying and responding to nature individuals could reach a higher spiritual state without formal religion
Henry David Thoreau 亨利•大卫•索罗 (1817-1862 )
1. A Brief Introduction to Thoreau
One of Emerson's most gifted fellow-thinkers and he was passionate about individual's learning to think for themselves and being independent ,both traditional American values.
2. His main works:Walden,many statement about the individual's role in society,the dictates of an individual's conscience should take precedence over demands,even the laws,of society.
Power of Imagination
Edgar Allan Poe ( 1809-1849 ) 艾德加•爱伦•坡
1. A Brief Introduction to Poe
?The European symbolist movement found that Poe, more than a generation earlier, had shared their feelings and techniques---regarding him as patron saint ?Wrote the kind of imaginative literature he admired but also the clever journalistic material he despised
?Also created a new genre of fiction---the detective story
2. His main work
The Cask of Amontillado (1845) 《一桶白葡萄酒》Ligeia ( 1838 ) 《丽姬娅》The Fall
of the House of Usher ( 1839 ) 《阿瑟古屋的倒塌》The Gold Bug 《金甲虫》The
Raven ( 1845 )《乌鸦》The Poetic Principle 《诗歌原理》The Philosophy of
Composition 《创作哲学》To Helen 《致海伦》
3.His Favorit Settings:Ruine castle, decaying palaces, tomb. His interest---no man’s land between death and life, a glimpse into the dark side of
Nathaniel Hawthorne ( 1804-1864 ) 纳撒尼尔?霍桑
1. A Brief Introduction to Nathaniel Hawthorne
?Haunted by the apprehension of a fatal and inescapable social and moral isolation: (1) loss of his father, (2) lameness, (3) sense of the past, (4) humiliating dependence on relatives, (5) retired and neurotic way of life of his mother, (6) indifference of Americans
?Paradox---his life both retiring and social / his writing both ambitious and self-critical / his religious beliefs both doubtful and pious
2. His main work
Twice-Told Tales 《重讲一遍的故事》( 1837 )---a turning point, praised by Poe “ the
unity of effect ”
The Scarlet Letter (1) female emancipation; (2) religious conflicts; (3) psychological independence ( he wrote 9 hours a day, and 6 months )
Herman Melville ( 1819-1891 ) 赫尔曼•梅尔维尔
1. A Brief Introduction to Melville
?His themes surround the exploration of the historical and psychological origins and development of self, society, and the desire to create and destroy gods and heroes. ?One of America’s greatest writers, complex, original, and profound
2. His main work
Moby Dick( 1851) Captain Ahab---one of the few characters in literature “ formed for noble tragedies”---just like King Lear and Hamlet ( another character Ishmael )
It is the Hamlet of American literature. While writing Moby Dick, Melville was reading Hawthorne and Shakespeare, and he found in both a great sense of evil.
New Versions of America
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) 惠特曼
1.A Brief Introduction to Walt Whitman
?Standing between Ralph Waldo Emerson and the modern age in America, Walt Whitman remains our most successful apologist for a literature that is universal
because it is “ native”.
?Despite his celebration of human equality, Whitman was a man of his times. He never advocated treating newly freed slaves as full citizens.
?Whitman believed that poor people are as valuable as the rich and that women are the equals of men.
2.His main work
Leaves of Grass was published in July, 1865, a thin book, 12 untitled poems; 1881 it was for the first time brought out by a reputable publisher, but banned, but the banning increased the sales.
Reform and Literation
Background:a movement to end the institution of slavery
Harriet Beecher Stowe 比彻?斯托夫人 (1811-1896)
Her main work:Uncle Tom's Cabin(the book portrayed black slaves as
sympathetic ,suffering figures,and created an image of cruel slaveowner in the character of Simon Legree )
William Dean Howells威廉?迪恩?豪威尔斯(1837-1920)
1. A Brief Introduction to William Dean Howells
?American realist author and literary critic.
?He was the founder of the school of American realists who derived through the Russians from Balzac and had little sympathy with any other form of fiction ?he was the most influential work done in American fiction during the last quarter of the nineteenth century
2. His main work
The Rise of Silas Lapham(1885), is about a self-made man's efforts
to fit into Boston society
Mark Twain马克.吐温( 1835-1910)
1. A Brief Introduction to Mark Twain
?Mark Twain, the first literary giant born west of the Mississippi, was without doubt the most celebrated personality in Americn
?His ear was finely attuned to nuances of dialect and of the vernacular of different classes and ethnic groups.
2. His Works
?The Innocents Abroad---selling “ right along just like the Bible.”
?Life on the Mississippi
?The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Emily Dickinson艾米利.狄耿生 (1830-1886)
1. A Brief Introduction to Emily Dickinson
?She was deeply affected by the Civil War and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
?She is also regarded as an independent thinker---: I am standing alone in rebellion.”
2. Her Poems
In her poems, there are six most common nouns: day, life, eye, sun, man, heaven. “ Master---open your life wide, and take me in forever, I will never be tired—I will
never be noisy when you want me to be still. I will be…your best little girl---nobody
else will see me, but you…but that is enough---I shall not want anymore.”
A New Wave
Background:As the wounds of the Civil War slowly healed,many Americans became discontented with the growing of society in the United States.
1. A brief introduction of James
?American-born writer, gifted with talents in literature, psychology, and philosophy ?he was one of the best-known intellectuals in mid-nineteenth-century America ?James's works, many of which were first serialised in the magazine The Atlantic
Monthly include narrative romances with highly developed characters set amongst illuminating social commentary on politics, class, and status, as well as explorations of the themes of personal freedom, feminism, and morality. In his short stories and novels he employs techniques of interior monologue and point of view to expand the readers' enjoyment of character perception and insight.
2. His main works
?THE AMERICAN, 1877
?THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY, 1881 (the novel examined American society by observing the divergence between American and European culture)
?THE GOLDEN BOWL, 1904
?THE WINGS OF DOVE, 1902
?the realism movement wrote The Ambassadors (1903)
1. A brief introduce to Edith Wharton
?American author, best-known for her stories and ironic novels about upper class people
?Wharton's central themes were the conflict between social and individual fulfillment, repressed sexuality, and the manners of old families and the 'nouveau riche', who had made their fortunes in more recent years.
? Wharton was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for the novel The Age of Innocence
2. Her main works
?The Great Inclination (1899)(Wharton's first collection of short stories) ?The Decoration of Houses (1897), was coauthored by Ogden Codman Jr., an
?The House of Mirth (1905)(Wharton gained first success with her book)(a story of a beautiful but poor woman, Lily Bart, trying to survive in the pitiless New York City) ?The Age of Innocence(The story describes the frustrated love of a New York lawyer, Newland Archer, for unconventional, artistic Ellen Olenska, the separated wife of a dissolute Polish count)
thBackground:American literature entered the 20 century not as
optimistic or patriotic as it has been a century earlier,yet full of democratic spirit.
Representative writers and works
1. Kate Chopin:The Awakening
2. Wailla Cather:O Pioneers!
3. W.E.B.Dubois:Souls of Black Folk