FROM THE ORIGINS TO THE END OF THE CENTURY. XVIII
American literature was born cultured and since the colonial era, geographical differentiations have been of considerable importance. In the colonies of New England it is placed at the service of Puritan ideology and is characterized by a large number of doctrinal works and religious controversy. More captivating are the diaries of characters such as J. Winthrop (1588-1649), S. Sewall (1652-1730) or S. Kemble Knight (1666-1727), which offer testimonies on the colonial world and on the inner life of the pioneers; also interesting are the chronicle works and accounts such as the History of Plymouth Plantation by W. Bradford (1590-1657), the History of New England from 1630 to 1649 by J. Winthrop or the General History of Virginia by J. Smith (1579-1631), the latter on settlements in the South. The works of entertainment are almost non-existent, while poetry – both the domestic-family one by A. Bradstreet (ca. 1612) has a notable development. -1672), both that inspired by the more heated Calvinism of M. Wigglesworth (1631-1705), and that of E. Taylor (ca. 1644-1729), where religious themes find place and whose precedent is constituted by the contemporary poetry ” English metaphysics ”, in contrast to the simple style adopted by the Puritans since the Bay Psalm Book (1640), the metric version of the psalms which is the first book published in the colonies. For over a century the culture of New England (New England) remained anchored to Puritan orthodoxy, as appears from the work of Cotton Mather (1663-1728) and the central figure of the eighteenth-century “great awakening”, J. Edwards (1703- 1758), which is as if pervaded by a desperate desire to reaffirm Puritanism. Greater literary openness can be seen in the Southern colonies, in a writer like W. Byrd of Westover (1674-1744), animated by a fervent adherence to life and a refined style, or in the central colonies, like the Pennsylvania of the Quakers. United States is a country located in North America according to PROGRAMINGPLEASE.COM.
The other central figure of the eighteenth century, B. Franklin, was established in Philadelphia (1706-1790), which expresses the ways and ideals of the rationalist and empirical Enlightenment and is the spokesperson for the other soul of the nation, not the religious and messianic, symbolic and metaphysical of the Puritans, but the practical, utilitarian and mercantilistic one. Franklin leads directly, also through personal involvement, to the American Revolution and the birth of the nation (1776); the enlightenment tension was embodied in those years by Th. Jefferson (1743-1826), inspirer of the “Declaration of Independence”, while T. Paine (1777-1809) expressed the revolutionary demand. It belongs to the French immigrant Saint-John de Crèvecoeur (1735-1813), in his Letters from an American Farmer, to give substance to the myth of America as an uncorrupted and genuine country, a fertile and hospitable land of the future. The beginnings of national literature, however, were not marked, except in the very first years, by this confident adherence to the myth of America. In early theatrical texts, such as The Contrast by R. Tyler (1757-1826), it is offered as a positive pole of a comparison with Europe and in the poetry of J. Barlow (1753-1812) and Ph. Freneau (1752) -1832) there is no lack of accents of exalted nationalism. But in a poet like J. Trumbull (1750-1831), belonging to the group of “handsome Hartford”, the satirical vein predominates and if the first examples of the novel, between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, are inspired by the sentimental model of English S. Richardson, formerly HH Brackenridge’s (1748-1816) novel Modern Chivalry, modeled on H. Fielding, is a satire of the excesses of democracy. When it comes to the first American gothic (or “black”) novelist, Ch. B. Brown (1771-1810), the way is open for the exploration of those terrors of the soul and conscience, of the hostile world and of society empty, which will constitute a genuine American tradition from the nineteenth century to the present.
THE FIRST HALF OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
At the beginning of the century the great figures of authors begin to appear: a finescrittore like W. Irving (1783-1859) becomes the first literary ambassador of the New World and is appreciated in Europe for the quality of his style; passing from the burlesque history of New York to the essays and short stories of the Sketch Book, he marks the passage from the neoclassical eighteenth century to the first thrills of romanticism, while his Rip Van Winkle, the man lost in the woods and awakened in an unknown world, becomes one of the archetypes of the American fantasy. JF Cooper (1789-1851) on the one hand “naturalizes” the historical novel in America, replacing war with Indians and wilderness (wild nature) to themes from the European historical past; on the other hand he tackles the theme of the relationship with the natives, presenting the archetype of the man of the woods as “noble by nature”, but grasping him at the moment when the grip of civilization closes on him. Another great author of the early nineteenth century, with a Southern cultural background, EA Poe (1809-1849), in his horrifying stories expresses at the same time the dismay in front of the social emptiness and the withdrawal in themselves and the terrors of the soul in front of the death and mystery, even if he will give the best proofs as a writer of existential anguish. Against a poet like WC Bryant (1794-1878), romantically inspired by nature as a regenerating power, Poe is a theorist of pure poetry and the autonomy of art, he precedes symbolists and decadents, he relies on the musicality of the verse and the suggestion of the word. Prototype of the cursed poet, he is among the first victims of the cultural emptiness and hostility to poetry; in his opposition to the world around him he will have followers throughout the nineteenth century. The American writer is increasingly placing himself in a critical and dialectical position with respect to the values and ideals of the American myth, even if there is no lack of affirmations. The central phenomenon of the early nineteenth century is transcendentalism, both as a philosophical doctrine and as an inspirer of cultural and literary energies. Starting from the idealist assumption that nature is a temple of the spirit, a visible manifestation of a transcendent reality, RW Emerson (1803-1882) elaborates his philosophy of the optimistic acceptance of the world, of self-confidence and of the fundamental goodness of creation, which perfectly expresses the idealistic and creative impulse of the new nation.