Рубрика: Филология

Опубликовано в Молодой учёный №15 (149) апрель 2017 г.

Дата публикации: 18.04.2017

Статья просмотрена: 36 раз

Библиографическое описание:

Бердиёрова Р. К. National beginnings in American literature // Молодой ученый. — 2017. — №15. — С. 696-698. — URL https://moluch.ru/archive/149/42240/ (дата обращения: 21.03.2018).

During the last half of the seventeenth century the Atlantic coast was settled both north and south. Colonies — still largely English — were established. Among the colonists could be found poets and essayists, but no novelists. The absence of novelists is quite understandable: the novel form had not even developed fully in England: the Puritan members of the colonies believed that fiction ought not be read because it was, by definition, not true.

The American poets who emerged in the seventeenth century adapted the style of established European poets to the subject matter confronted in a strange, new environment. Anne Bradstreet was one such poet.

Mrs. Bradstreet lessens this despair by asserting that earthly possessions are no more than “dunghill mists” when compared to the “richly furnished” house of Heaven. In her rejection of wordily riches, Anne Bradstreet shared common outlook with her New England neighbors. Her ability to capture the colonial experience in poetry established her place as one of America’s most notable early writers. [1]

Michael Wigglesworth, another important colonial poet, achieved wide popularity among his contemporaries with his gloomy poem entitled “The Day of Doom.” First published in 1662, “The Day of Doom” is a description of the day of judgment. It tells of the day when God will decide the fate of man. Most people will be sent to Hell: a few lucky ones will be chosen to go to Heaven. According to Wigglesworth, the start of this final day will be signaled by a bright light at midnight which will wake all the sinners:

Wigglesworth concludes that escape will be impossible. Inevitably, man must and will accept his fate on “The Day of Doom.”

In the colonies south of Wigglesworth’s New England, less gloomy poets and essayists wrote. But the soothe colonies did not have the printing facilities found in New England, and no poet elsewhere achieved the popularity of Michael Wigglesworth. [2]

Twentieth century literary scholars have discovered the manuscripts of a contemporary of Wigglesworth named Edward Taylor who produced what is perhaps the finest seventeenth century American verse. Writing much of his poetry as a mental exercise — or “Meditation” — to prepare him for his duties as a minister, Taylor filled his works with vivid imagery. Here, for example, are Taylor’s descriptions of the unworthy heart of man:

Taylor never published any of his poetry. In fact, the first of Edward Taylor’s colonial poetry did not reach print until the third decade of the twentieth century.

Benjamin Franklin was a brilliant, industrious, and versatile man. Starting as a poor boy in a family of seventeen children, he became famous on both sides of the Atlantic as a statesman, scientist, and author. Despite his fame, however, he always remained a man of industry and simple tastes. [3]

Franklin’s writings range from informal sermons on thrift to urbane essays. He wrote gracefully as well as clearly, with a wit which often gave an edge to his words. Though the style he formed came from imitating two noted English essayists, Addison and Steele, he made it into his own. His most famous work is his Autobiography.

Franklin’s Autobiography is many things. First of all it is an inspiring account of a poor boy’s rise to a high position. Franklin tells his story modestly, omitting some of the honors he received and including mention of some of his misdeeds, his errors as he called them. He is not afraid to show himself as being much less than perfect, and he is resigned to the fact that his misdeeds will often receive a punishment of one sort or another. Viewing himself with objectivity, Franklin offers his life story as a lesson to others. It is a positive lesson that teaches the reader to live a useful live. In fact, the Autobiography is a how-to-do-it book, a book on the art of self-improvement.

The practical world of Benjamin Franklin stands in sharp contrast to the fantasy world created by Washington living. Named after George Washington, the first president of the United States, living provided a young nation with humorous, fictional accounts of the colonial past. Many of living’s other writings take the reader to foreign lands, especially to Spain at the Moors. But his tales of colonial America remain his most enduring contributions to American and world literature. [4]

The Dutch culture New York was of particular interest to living. He published a mock serious history of the New York of colonial times which shows his sly humor and general good nature. This same geographic area provides the background for living’s best known work, the short story “Rip Van Winkle.”

“Rip Van Winkle” is a humorous tale of a lazy villager in the mountains of upstate New York. While hunting, Rip meets some mischievous Dutch gnomes. He drinks with them, and through the power of the drink falls asleep for twenty years. On awakening he makes his unsteady way back to his village. Rip finds the village greatly changed. When he went to sleep it was still under British rule. Now it is a part of the United States, the new nation formed as a result of the Revolutionary War. Though he is confused by the changes that have come with democracy, he gets used to them. By the end of the story he is back at the village tavern, drinking and ready to tell any stranger about his remarkable slumber.

Through “Rip Van Winkle” and several other stories lrving helped to create what might be called an American mythology. This mythology is made up of stories of the American past so widely read and told that nearly every American recognizes them. [5]

Another writer, James Fennimore Cooper, contributed two of the great stock figures of American mythology: the daring frontiersman and the bold Indian. Cooper’s exciting stories of the American frontier have won a large audience for his books in many parts of the world. Some students of literature may find fault with the artificial speech and actions of Cooper’s heroines. Yet the figures in his novels helped create that part of American mythology most popular today: the story of the cowboy and the winning of the American West.

During the Revolutionary War Freneau became an ardent supporter of the American cause. While on sea duty he was captured by the British and placed aboard a prison ship, an experience which inspired a long poem entitled “The British Prison Ship.” He wrote a number of other long poems, but he was at his best in his short lyrics, such as “The Wild Honey Suckle.” Many of these short works, including “On the Emigration to America,” “The Indian Burying Ground,” and “To the Memory of the Brave Americans,” deal with American subjects, and it is for these poems that Freneau is best remembered today. If Freneau can be considered one of America’s first great nationalist poets. William Cullen Bryant merits a claim to being one of America’s first naturalist poets. Born after the Revolutionary War, Bryant turned to nature as a source for poetic inspiration.

Many of Bryant’s poems have themes which are typical of nineteenth century American verse. He writes about the spiritual sustenance to be found in nature and of the beauty of brooks, trees, and flowers. He idealizes the advantages of life in the country over life in the city/ he composes love lyrics. He looks around him for his subjects, and as a result both they and their settings are American. Moreover, he has a number of poems based on famous events in American history. One, for example, is the “Song of Marion’s Men,” which celebrates the daring exploits of a revolutionary War cavalryman named Francis Marion. [6]

The next notable American poet, Edgar Allan Poe, was also a master of the prose tale. A gifted, tormented man, Poe thought about the proper function of literature far more than any of his predecessors, with the result that he became the first great American literary critic. He developed a theory of poetry which was in disagreement with what most poets of the mid-nineteenth century believed. The next great American Romanticist, however, drew on America for both characters and settings, and his work, though theoretical and philosophical, does mirror the attitudes and mores of the time. He was a shy New Englander named Nathaniel Hawthorne. Although he wrote no poetry, his short stories and novels still rand among the best that America has produced.

Though Hawthorne wrote about various subjects and various times, his favorite theme was Puritan New England. The Puritan punishment of sexual sin become the vehicle for his best novel, The Scarlet Letter, a treatment of the effects of sin on the human spirit. The Letter is an “A” and stands for adultery. After her sin is discovered, the heroine of the novel is required to wear the letter on the bosom of the dress the rest of her life. This public penance eventually brings about the expiation of her sin. Her partner in sin, whose involvement is not discovered, lives secretly with his guilt and is eventually destroyed. In much of his fiction, Hawthorne examines the development and results of evil. The dark side of the human character attracted him profoundly. [7]

With them American literature is well on its way. It will take new directions, and it will vary in quality, but from now on it will have a contribution to make not only to English-speaking peoples but to the world at large.


  1. Benjamin Franklin. “The Pennsylvania Gazette”. Franklin Papers.org, October 23, 1729.
  2. 1785: Benjamin Franklin’s Sundry Maritime Observations’, The Academy of Natural Sciences, April 1939 m.
  3. Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790).) Science world, from Eric Weiss ten’s World of Scientific Biography. 2010 year.
  4. Jones, Thomas P. (1836). Journal of the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania (
  5. “The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Volume III: London, 1757–1775-On the Price of Com, and Management of the Poor”.
  6. J. A. Leo Lemay, “Franklin Benjamin”. American National Biography Online, February 2000.
  7. Sparks, Jared (1856). The Life of Benjamin Franklin: Containing the Autobiography, with Notes and a Continuation.
Основные термины (генерируются автоматически): Rip Van Winkle, century American verse, New England, revolutionary war, seventeenth century, American mythology, New England neighbors, New York, great American Romanticist, Anne Bradstreet, notable American poet, important colonial poet, American literary critic, culture New York, Puritan New England, upstate New York, finest seventeenth century, noted English essayists, century literary scholars, American poets.


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