Change of eras has consequences in various areas of human knowledge, includingculture, philosophy or literature. It was at the turn of the century a revision of all that has been created, change of the methods and criteria for the direction of research. All this, undoubtedly concerns also history of American literature.
In the period between the two wars, the American writers experimented with a point of view in the narrative and form, in general, they wrote more realistically than the Europeans. Novelist Ernest Hemingway wrote about war, hunting, and other male hobbies, using a simple style, devoid of any pathos, powerful southern novels of William Faulkner, spanning multiple generations and cultures, are inseparable from the heat and dust of Mississippi, between Sinclair Lewis with ironic clarity depicts the life of the bourgeois (Wilson).
The leitmotif of the 20’s and 30’s was a need to look at truth in the face. Writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, and playwright Eugene O’Neill repeatedly drew tragedy awaiting those who live by fragile dreams.
American literature do not know so common to European literature examples when in the works of the outstanding writer is a gradual modification of the romantic vision in a realistic artistic thinking (Gray).
Realism in American literature as a rather new trend, and this chronological delay makes the remarkable feature of the development of American literature, it affects relatively young and the particular importance of romantic period in its history.
Another feature of the emergence of realism in American literature is that there is not a new direction from the depths of Romanticism, as it were independent of it.
Realism in American literature at the same time was formed under the influence of European (especially – in English, French and Russian) art experience and under the influence of regional literary experiments that aim authentically convey local color. It brought to life by the common for post-war literature need of aesthetic assimilation of American life, transformed by the rapid development of capitalist relations. There is a need to compile a new social experience of “Gilded Age”, which is characterized by a sharp aggravation of the contradictions of bourgeois society, the rapid growth of the industry, the breakdown of patriarchal forms of life, the emergence of millions of immigrants from all over the world, the rise of the labor movement, the deepening crisis of the “American Dream”. Actuallity creates all the preconditions for the formation of realism as the mainstream of literature (Habegger). This process culminated in the works of Mark Twain reaches 80s. That Twain – real founder and largest representative of realism in American literature of the XIX century.
Naturalism penetrated to America from Europe in the 1890s. Formulated by the leading theoreticians of the “natural school” French writer Emile Zola problem of “experimental novel” (objective, scientific coverage of facts), each of the above-mentioned authors decided differently. Strictly speaking, in American literature there was not a single “naturalism” as, however, and “realism” or, at the time, “romanticism” – only one bar separates these different ways of seeing the world and its role in the human person.
The main difference between the literary movement was not in the entourage or theme works, repulsive, ugly side of life, and often fell into view Romantics (rarely – American realists), not just naturalists. This difference was not confined to a desire to tell the truth: it claimed writers of all kinds. The difference is in the degree of recognition of the individual, portrayed by naturalists, realists and romantics, the right of free choice in life (Gray).
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Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, grew up in the town of Hannibal, state of Missouri, the new lands along the Mississippi. Ernest Hemingway famously said that all American literature comes from one of the great books – “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, Twain – points to a prominent place of this writer in the American tradition. American writers of the early XIX century tended to be too flowery, sentimental, or ostentatious partly due to the fact that they are still trying to prove that they can write as elegantly as the English. Twain style, which was based on a live, realistic, colloquial American speech, gave American authors to re-evaluate its national vote. Twain was the first great writer who came from the provinces, who managed to capture the distinctive, full of humor, slang, and combat prejudice.
For Twain and other American writers of the late XIX century, realism was not merely a literary device, but also a way to tell the truth and blow up the old conventions. Thus, he wore a deep and potentially liberating character come into conflict with society. This is best demonstrated by Huck Finn – a poor boy who decides to follow the voice of conscience and help a Negro slave escape to freedom in spite of the fact that according to Huck, he will be damned and go to hell for having broken the law.
“Huckleberry Finn” has inspired countless writers to interpretation. It is clear that the novel is the story of death, rebirth and dedication. Runaway slave Jim Huck becomes a kind of father for Huck, and deciding to save Jim, Huck grows morally out of the narrow framework of a slave society. That adventure devote Jim Huck into the complexities of human nature and give him moral courage.
The characteristic theme of Twain and the basis of much of his humor is an unstable relationship between reality and illusion. Gorgeous and yet insidious, ever-changing river also takes center stage in his imaginative landscape.
In the new, XX century problems of American literature are defined by the fact of the immense importance: the most rich, powerful capitalist country, running at the head of the world, generates the most gloomy and bitter literature today. Writers gained a new quality: it was characteristic sense of tragedy and doom of this world. “An American Tragedy” of Dreiser expressed the desire of writers to large generalizations, which features American literature of the time, which is characterized in terms of naturalism (Wald).
In the literary criticism of the late nineteenth century and in numerous writings on American literature, as naturalists especially the F. Norris, X. Garland, S. Crane are called.
Naturalism in relation to American literature and especially creativity of Frank Norris is understood primarily as a literary phenomenon, occupying border position between traditional realism with its “typical characters in typical circumstances” and Zola’s naturalism with “dispassionate eye of the physiologist” (Gohdes).
Essentially Naturalism was a literary expression of determinism. Associated with a realistic description of the sad low life, determinism excludes religion from among the driving forces in the world, and instead represents the universe as a machine. Enlightenment thinkers of XVIII century also drew a world like machine, which however was perfect, God-given and prone to human progress and improvement. Naturalists, by contrast, represents the the society as blind machine, godless and uncontrollable.
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Like the prose writers of the cosmopolitan naturalists used realistic method to relate the individual with society, but did so in a more open manner. They are often exposing social problems under the influence of Darwin’s theory and its sister philosophical doctrine of determinism, which represents human helpless pawn in the face of economic and social forces that he can not control.
A key figure of American naturalism – Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945). In his work both the originality of naturalism in the United States and the evolution of naturalistic prose of XIX to the XX century more fully became apparent.
Theodore Dreiser not only quickly gained fame, and to some extent even survived his fame. He quickly became a living classic, a monument to himself, and at that moment, when his works were approved in American literature, has launched its next generation of creative work, which has already been written very differently (A Literary history of the American West).
His works – a novel-biography on his model, all (from first to last) gradually growing into epic novel like “Trilogy of desire” – about the same as the current face, where the central figure, his fate is always presented in close collaboration with environment. Almost every novel of his biography – the study of interactions between humans and the surrounding society, a social medium.
In the first novel, “Sister Carrie” (1901) naturalistic tendencies are very strong again. There Dreiser, like London at the time, explains the reason that the life of his heroine Carolina has developed the way it has developed, because it has the potential of psychophysiological that drags her up the river of life (Literary history of the United States).
That Dreiser was the first poet of the new industrial America, American skyscrapers (aesthetically significant reality of the twentieth century). Dreiser analyzes the inner life of the community, identifies the laws of its development.
As a writer, during all his life writing about the driving force of desire and the inevitability of defeat, Dreiser largely defined the tone of American prose of XX century.
In one of his public appearances famous American writer Saul Bellow said: “Being an intellectual in the United States – is to be immured in privacy, where you think, but the thought oppressed humiliating feeling of how insignificant a little thought can change a life”. Loneliness and inability to walk in the footsteps of life – the main theme of modern American literature, claimed in the post-war period, when the mood changed to confusion winners before the crises that began to assert itself in the material and spiritual aspects of life (Gura).