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American Renaissance The authors who began to come to prominence in the s and were active until about the end of the Civil War—the humorists, the classic New Englanders, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and others—did their work in a new spirit, and their achievements were of a new sort.
In part it was because, in this Romantic period of emphasis upon native scenes and characters in many literatures, they put much of America into their books.
Particularly full of vivid touches were the writings of two groups of American humorists whose works appeared between and One group created several down-east Yankee characters who used commonsense arguments to comment upon the political and social scene.
These authors caught the talk and character of New England at that time as no one else had done. Baldwin, and George Washington Harris drew lively pictures of the ebullient frontier and showed the interest in the common man that was a part of Jacksonian democracy. New England Brahmins Although Lowell for a time was one of these writers of rather earthy humour, his lifelong ties were to a group of New England writers associated with Harvard and CambridgeMassachusetts—the Brahmin s, as they came to be called—at an opposite extreme.
Henry Wadsworth LongfellowOliver Wendell Holmesand Lowell were all aristocrats, all steeped in foreign cultureall professors at Harvard. Longfellow adapted European methods of storytelling and versifying to narrative poems dealing with American history, and a few of his less didactic lyrics perfectly married technique and subject matter.
Lowell, in poems descriptive of the out-of-doors in America, put much of his homeland into verse. The way for this group had been prepared by the rise of a theological system, Unitarianismwhich early in the 19th century had replaced Calvinism as the faith of a large share of the New Englanders. Ralph Waldo Emersonmost famous of the Concord philosophers, started as a Unitarian minister but found even that liberal doctrine too confining for his broad beliefs.
He became a Transcendentalist who, like other ancient and modern Platonists, trusted to insights transcending logic and experience for revelations of the deepest truths.
His scheme of things ranged from the lowest objects and most practical chores to soaring flights of imagination and inspired beliefs. His Essays —44Representative Menand English Traits were thoughtful and poetic explanations of his beliefs; and his rough-hewn lyrics, packed with thought and feeling, were as close to 17th-century Metaphysical poems as any produced in his own time.
An associate of Emerson with a salty personality of his own and an individual way of thinking, Henry David Thoreaua sometime surveyor, labourer, and naturalist, was closer to the earthy and the practical than even Emerson was.
He also was more of a humorist—a dry Yankee commentator with a flair for paradoxical phrases and sentences. Finally, he was a learned man, widely read in Western classics and books of the Orient. Walden Pond hutHenry David Thoreau's hut, illustration from the title page of an edition of his Walden, which was first published in Fuller edited The Dial, the chief Transcendental magazine, and was important in the feminist movement.
New England reformers and historians A worldwide movement for change that exploded in the revolutions of naturally attracted numerous Americans. Reform was in the air, particularly in New England. At times even Brahmins and Transcendentalists took part.
William Lloyd Garrisonascetic and fanatical, was a moving spirit in the fight against slavery; his weekly newspaper, The Liberator —65despite a small circulation, was its most influential organ.
A contributor to the newspaper—probably the greatest writer associated with the movement—was John Greenleaf Whittier. His simple but emotional poems on behalf of abolition were collected in such volumes as Poems Written During the Progress of the Abolition Question…Voices of Freedomand Songs of Labor, and Other Poems The outstanding novelist of the movement—so far as effect was concerned—was Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Library of Congress, Washington, D. LC-USZ One other group of writers—and a great novelist—contributed to the literature of New England in this period of its greatest glory. The group consisted of several historians who combined scholarly methods learned abroad with vivid and dramatic narration.
These included George Bancroftauthor of History of the United States completed in 12 volumes inand John Lothrop Motleywho traced the history of the Dutch Republic and the United Netherlands in nine fascinating volumes — The leading member of the group was Francis Parkmanwho, in a series of books —92wrote as a historian of the fierce contests between France and England that marked the advance of the American frontier and vividly recorded his own Western travels in The Oregon Trail Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman History also figured in tales and romances of Nathaniel Hawthornethe leading New England fictionist of the period.
Many tales and longer works—for example, his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter —were set against a background of colonial America with emphasis upon its distance in time from 19th-century New England. Others, such as The House of the Seven Gablesdealt with the past as well as the present.
Still others, such as The Marble Faunwere set in distant countries. Another great American fiction writer, for a time a neighbour and associate of Hawthorne, was Herman Melville.
The first sign of this interest was Mardian uneven and disjointed transitional book that used allegory after the model of Rabelais to comment upon ideas afloat in the period—about nations, politics, institutions, literature, and religion.
The new techniques came to fruition in Moby Dick ; or, The Whalea richly symbolic work, complex but brilliantly integrated. Only in short storiesBenito Cereno—a masterpiece of its genre—and others, in the psychological novel Pierreand in the novelette Billy Budd written ?
An ardent singer of the praise of Manhattan, Walt Whitman saw less of the dark side of life than Melville did. He was a believer in Jacksonian democracy, in the splendour of the common man.
Inspired by the Romantic concept of a poet as prophet and also by the Transcendental philosophy of Emerson, Whitman in published the first edition of Leaves of Grass.
As years passed, nine revised and expanded editions of this work were published. This autobiography in verse was intended to show the ideas, beliefs, emotions, and experiences of the common man in a great period of American individualism.Start studying Spanish Transitional Words and Phrases.
Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. Noam Chomsky: Noam Chomsky, American theoretical linguist whose work from the s revolutionized the field of linguistics by treating language as a uniquely human, biologically based cognitive capacity.
He helped to initiate and sustain what came to be known as the ‘cognitive revolution.’ Learn more about his life and career. "English Labouring-Class Poets, –" "International Perspectives on Science, Culture and Society" "The Body, Gender and Culture" (ISC)2 Press.
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