FPuritan Period Background

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fPuritan Period
The ideology of predestination (Calvin), the assumption of earthly signs of grace of the elect (piety and prosperity) and the resulting internal torment of the race to a proof of "electness"

The schism of Puritanism based on double interpretation of the concept of church hierarchy: the Presbyterian concept of collegial hierarchy and Congregationalist concept of individuality of each group-church (congregation – a direct relationship with God)

Entering the Congregation only via a public confession of faith (conversion). False conversion led to doom while the true one was a sign of being among the elect and resulted in the status of a "living saint".

The voyage of Mayflower in 1620 and Arbella in 1630, settling of New England, the myth of elect, the promised land.

Prejudice against the novel as devil’s device that refrains people from honest work.
Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)
The poet of simple, domestic things.

  • "Here Follow Some Verses Upon the Burning of Our House"

Michael Wigglesworth (1631-1705)

  • "The Day of Doom" – a picture of the sinister judgment that shall befall all sinners (Christ as avenger, the saints "rejoice" at the torment of the vile – consider this moral logic twist). First real bestseller.

Edward Taylor (1645?-1729)
Considered the last "metaphysical" poet, used conceits and flourish, did not publish his poems due to their non-Puritanity, known for his sermons
The Puritan Chronicles
Those are often not good historical sources as they favor "symbolic lessons" over truth being the accounts of lives of "the elect".

  • William Bradford

    • "Of Plymouth Plantation"

  • John Winthrop

    • "Journal"

  • Cotton Mather

    • "Magnalia Christi America"

      • A proof of America’s special place in humankind’s spiritual history (the promised land of the saint)

  • Edward Johnson

    • "Wonder Working Providence"

  • Samuel Sewall

    • "Diary"

      • The account of a judge who understood he had given a wrong judgment (Sewall was one of the judges in the "Witches of Salem" trial)

  • Mary Rowlandson

    • The literature of captivity

  • William Byrd

Age of Reason
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Lived and worked in Massachusetts. During his life through a period of religious doubts he came to creating a unique religious analysis of Puritanism combining scientific logic and dogmas of the Puritan church. His main doctrinal problem was the sovereignty of God (a strong belief that only the pleasure of the Almighty keeps the man from doom) but after a long illness he finally settled it. His aim was awakening the "weakened" faith by persuading the congregation to conversion and purifying it of the Halfway Covenant. His preaching techniques combine reasoning and gradual increase of emotional tension resulting in something similar to the current preaching techniques in the sects: he frightened the congregation into conversion by gradually expanding the power of the image of a helpless man, God’s wrath and the final vision of the possibility of redemption.

  • Personal Narrative

  • Sermons (e.g. Sinners in the hands of an Angry God)

  • Tracts (e.g. Notes on the Apocalypse)

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Born in New England. Migrated to the Quaker/Deist Pennsylvania and this shaped his intellectual horizon. Mainly a successful scientist and businessman but also renewed diplomat and politician, became the essence of the "rags to riches" myth and the leader of pragmatism (a belief that truth is measured via practical experience as all things that work properly must be a reflection of the natural laws)

  • A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity Pleasure and Pain – a "logic practice" essay on the nature of God leading to Franklin’s deist beliefs

  • Poor Richard’s Almanack

  • The Lighthouse Tragedy (Poem)

  • Autobiography – a quest for the ethical ideal (the thirteen cardinal virtues, the week’s sins chart, the order of the day)

Thomas Paine

  • "The Age of Reason"

Jean de Crèvecoeur

  • "Letters From an American Farmer"

The Dawn of American Fiction

  • Lack of well-educated people who would have time to pursue literature of refined entertainment

  • The underplaying religion-based disregard for the novel as a waste of time

  • The popularity of British writers in America

  • The flawed copyright (the publishers had to arrange printing with American writers but did not have to do so with foreign writers)

Washington Irving (1783-1859)
A man of "small talent" who never produced anything truly unique but whose works were well written and gave him international fame, had strong ties with the Old World and spend 1/3 of his life traveling around Europe, a satirist

  • A History of New York form the Beginnings of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty by Diedrich Knickerbocker (1809)

    • A satire that brought Irving fame in America and recognition in Britain

  • Nine essays for "Morning Chronicle" (New York) that dealt with the humorous side of everyday life in the city

  • The Salmagundi Essays

    • Inspired by the British "The Spectator"

  • The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Cryon, Gent.

    • Including twelve sketches, among them Rip Van Winkle (Irving created the archetype of a carefree, adolescent American male)

  • The Revised Sketch Book

  • Tales of a Traveler

  • The Alhambra

The ancestors of Cooper

  • Francis Hopkinson

    • "A Pretty Story"

      • Colony establishment political allegory

  • Jeremy Belkamp

    • "The Foresters"

      • Also a colony establishment political allegory

  • William Hill Brown

    • "The Power of Sympathy"

      • Sentimental novel

  • Susanna Rowson

    • "Charlotte Temple"

  • Charles Brockden Brown

    • "Wieland"

      • A Gothic horror story

    • Alcuin: A Dialogue

      • A treatise on women’s rights

  • Hugh Henry Brackenridge

    • "Modern Chivalry"

      • A Cervantes style satire featuring Capt. Ferrago and Teague O’Regan

James Fennimore Cooper (1789-1851)
Begun writing unrepentantly and in 31 years wrote a total of 32 novels and a number of other pieces. He is the author of the "buddy type" protagonist Natty Bumpo, and the vision of wild, frontier America. The first sea-novelist.

  • "Precaution"

    • A pretty badly received novel basing on Jane Austen’s books.

  • "The Spy"

    • Established the archetype of Coopers work: an even struggle with the pursued favored by the author and the reader, structural faults, flat women characters (Harvey Birch)

  • "The Leather Stockings Series"

    • American nature as a cultural myth, wilderness, Indian theme presented to Europe, the Scout – man of two worlds and none

      • "The Pioneers"

        • A semi-historical novel set 10 years after the revolution (Judge Marmeduke Temple, Chingachook)

      • "The Last of The Mowhicans"

      • "The Prairie"

      • "The Pathfinder"

      • "The Deerslayer"

  • "The Pilot"

    • A nautical novel

  • "Notions of the America: picked up by a traveling bachelor"

    • Cooper’s first socio-political novel followed up by three other works on European themes and two "democracy novels":

  • "A Letter To My Countrymen"

  • "The American Democrat"

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

  • Poems

    • "Tamerlane and Other Poems"

    • "Al Aoraaf"

    • "Tamerlane and Minor Poems"

    • "Raven"

  • Short stories:

    • "MS found in a Bottle"

    • "Berenice"

    • "The Fall of the House of Usher"

    • "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque" (25 stories in total including "Ligeia")

  • Novel:

    • "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym"

  • Essays and reviews

  • Detective story:

    • "The Murder in the Rue Morgue"

    • "The Purloined Letter"

    • "Thou Art The Man" (C. Auguste Dupin)

  • "Eureka: A Prose Poem"

The American Renaissance
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1822)
Emerson’s philosophy: individualism. Trust only in yourself and contradict yourself – truth is beyond contradiction. Be a nonconformist. Do not travel in search of the knowledge of others. Every man is alone. The Oversoul is your only connection. One must learn by himself only from practical experience and Christianity is a second-hand faith.

  • Nature (1836)

  • The American Scholar (1837)

  • Divinity School Address (1838)

  • Self-Reliance (1841)

  • The Oversoul (1841)

  • The Poet (1844)

  • The Conduct of Life (1860)

A sprout of Emerson’s theory in which many writers took part (e.g. Mary Fouler). The application of theory is granted to Henry David Thoreau who wrote "Walden" (Walden pond, MA) – a record of his two-year stay at Emerson’s estates in a log cabin ("The Bible of Transcendentalism"). He also wrote "An Essay on Civil Disobedience" and "A Plea for Captain John Brown" in reaction to the American-Mexican war.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

  • Exploration of evil within man: egotism, pride, intellectual arrogance. Entangled in the past. Sin creates loneliness and isolation – it is however a natural part of human nature being at the same time destructive

  • Sets of Tales:

    • Twice Told Tales

    • Moses from an old Manse

    • The Snow Image

    • The Tanglewood Tales

  • Novels:

    • "The Scarlet Letter"

      • Hester Pynne, Arthur Dimmsdale, Roger Chillinworth

    • "The House of Seven Gables"

      • Holgrave, Phoebe

    • "The Blithdale"

      • Hollingsworth, Zenobia, Principia

    • "The Marble Faun"

      • Donatello, Kenyan, Miriam, Hilda

  • Special Tales:

    • "Egotism of Bosom Serpent"

    • "The Minister’s Black Veil"

    • "Rapacinni’s Daughter"

      • Giovanni and Beatrice

    • "Ethan Brand"

    • "My Kinsman Major Molineaux"

Herman Melville (1819-1891)

  • "Typee" (1846)

    • An adventure in a primitive culture

  • "Omoo" (1847)

    • Continuation of setting in Thai culture and the vision of its destruction by the white man (missionaries)

  • "Mardi" (1849)

    • A transformation from adventure to allegory (Yillah, Jarl)

  • "Redburn: His first adventure"

  • "White Jacket" (1850)

    • White Jacket and Jack Cheese

  • "Moby Dick" (1851)

    • Ishmael, Quequeg

    • "Call me Ishmael"

  • "Pierre: The Ambiguities" (1852)

  • "Israel Potter" (1855)

  • The Piazza Tales (1856)

  • The Confidence-Man (1857)

  • Billy Bud (published in 1924)

  • Poetry (written after deserted by audience:)

    • Battle-Pieces (1866) – The Civil War

    • Clarel (1876) – Trip to Holy Land

    • various other

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Leaves of Grass – structure:

  • inscriptions

  • "Song of Myself"

  • "Children of Adam" – hetero erotic

  • "Calamus" – auto and homo erotic

  • "Song of the Open Road"

  • "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"

  • "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking" (Sea Drift)

  • "Tears" (Sea Drift)

  • "When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer"

  • "The Dalince of the Easles"

  • "Beconcilation" (Drum Taps – Civil War)

  • "When Lilacs Are In Bloom" (Lincoln)

  • "There was a Child Went Forth" (Autumn Rivulets)

  • "Miracles" (Autumn Rivulets)

  • "Passage to India"

  • Whispers of Heavenly Poetry

  • Songs of Parting

The Cantosa epic story of a nation
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Lived in Amherst. Usage of folk and nursery rhymes. True individualist. Controlled intensity.

Telegraphic style

  • 1775 poems; those of interest to us:

    • #258 – "There's a certain slant of light..."

    • #712 – "Because I could not stop for Death..."

    • #986 – "A narrow fellow in the grass..."

The Gilded Age

  • Joel Chandler Harris

      • Plantation life

      • African-American tales

      • "Uncle Rhemus Stories"

  • Bret Harte

      • "The Outcast of Poker Flack"

      • Stories of American west

      • Melancholic

  • George Washington Cable

      • Creole stories

      • Realism and impression

  • Sarah Orren Jewet

      • "The Country of Painted Furs"

      • great emphasis on character-environment relation

Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Real name: Samuel L. Clemens. The father of "American idiom" and colloquial speech. Large influence of South-Western "Bar humor" and travel sketches.

  • "Innocents Abroad"

    • Satire on American Europe tours

  • "Roughing It"

  • "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"

    • Huck and Jim

    • "Jim is white inside"

  • "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"

    • Autobiographical

  • "Life on the Mississippi"

    • Autobiographical as well

  • "Pudd'n’head Wilson"

    • Lack of acceptance for slavery;

    • Tom Driscoll, Charles, Roxana

  • "A Man that Corrupted Hadleyburg"

  • "A Connecticut Yankee in King’s Arthur’s Court"

  • "The Mysterious Stranger" (published posthomously)

William Dean Howells (1837-1920)


  • "Criticism and Fiction" (1891)

    • The truth is the only criterion

  • "A Modern Instance" (1882)

  • "The Rise of Sils Lopham" (1885)

  • "A Hazard of Fortunes", 1890)

Henry James (1843-1916)

  • International theme. Detail in depicting gestures, atmosphere. Analysis of contrast. POV technique. Individual psychology and more abstract moral dilemmas.

    • Non-fictional travel books:

      • "Transatlantic Sketches" (1875)

      • "A Little Tour in France" (1885)

      • "English Hours" (1905)

    • Narratives:

      • "The American" (1877) (Christopher Newman)

      • "Daisy Miller" (1878)

      • "The Portrait of A Lady"(Isabel Archer)

      • "The Bostonians" (1886)

      • "Princess Casamassima" (1886)

      • "The Wings of the Dove" (1902)

      • "The Ambassadors" (1903) (Lambert Strether)

      • "The Golden Bowl" (1904) (Prince Amerigo, Maggie Verver, Franny Anningham, Ralph Touchet, Caspar Goodwood, Lord Warburton, Gilbert Osmond)

Edith Warthon (a similar writer)

  • "The House of Mirth"

  • "The Age of Innocents"

  • "Ethan Frome"

John Dower
Hamlin Garland (1860-1940)
The dirty naturalism. "A farmer by birth and a novelist by occupation". The theory of "veritism" and encouragement of local novel.

  • "Main Traveled Roads" (1891) – destruction of the "farmer paradise" myth

  • "Crumbling Idols" (1894)

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