north american literature - colonial time
The beginings of North American Literature - Colonial time
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - north american literature - colonial time
North American LiteratureNorth American LiteratureColonial TimeColonial TimeIn studying American literature, it is important to understand thatalthough similarities exist between English and American literarystyles, there are also great divergences.
After having been politically and culturally dominated by England, it became necessary forAmericans to develop a means of expression which could reflect Americans habits,thoughts and ambitious. American society demanded a literature expressed in a new style.American culture offered characteristicswhich greatly differed from those of theold cultures of Europe: democracy, thefrontier, and a new concept of humanity.By its very nature, American societylacked a definite structure about whichto write. Search for identity has alwaysbeen an outstanding trait in theAmerican literature.
It is necessity to remember that the American population hasnever been homogeneous, since it is comprised of people ofEuropean, African, and Asian ancestry. America has always been aland in which one looked to the future for fulfillment of hisexpectations.The emphasis has been upon individualism, dynamism andinnovation, rather than upon moderation or respect for anestablished social hierarchy.American literature has always reflected the double consciousness of its parentcultures and its own youthful ambition. Up to the first part of the twentieth century,there had been a trend to avoid topics such as the imperfection of humanity or thenation. The literature reflected the process of settlement, the conquering of acontinent, the growth of political, social and spiritual ideals.
Although trends do exist, American literature is by no means static. Its temperamentchanges from decade to decade and it has been subjected to violent shocks through war,economic changes and criticism generated by changes in the intellectual climate. Thesentiments of optimism and pessimism mix when America ideals find themselvescontradicted by reality.• Gay Literature• Survival Literature• Jewish Literature
EARLY COLONIAL LITERATUREEARLY COLONIAL LITERATUREThe early literature was producedby a God centered world. LiteraryEnglishmen believed that was firstamong the disciplines of learningand all events were ruled by DivineProvidence. Thus the writingsproduced in the early colonialperiod were fundamentally religious.
American culture and literature were derived from western European culture,literature and civilization. The first English settlement in America was fortunate.Thirteen colonies were spread along the Atlantic coast of the continent and thiscaused great influence on the American language, ways of thought and civilization.The first literary manifestations in America tell us the story of New England andVirginia. Two main things forced the English toward America: materialimprovement and religious freedom.
THE PLANTERSTHE PLANTERSTheir first writings about America came from the colony of Virginia which the Britishhad established around 1584. These writings were mostly advertising to attract moreEnglish people to Virginia to establish to invest and explore the new colonies. Thesefirst writings portrayed exactly what they saw in the new continent – descriptions ofgeographic and economic conditions, the climate of the new land and some aspects ofindian life. Sometimes their works exaggerated the remarkable wealth of the land.
THE PURITANSTHE PURITANSAt the beginning of the 17thcentury, a different kind of settler came to New Englandattempting to escape from the religious persecutions in England. They, the Separatists,now called Pilgrims, wished to purify the forms and rituals of the established AnglicanChurch.In 1620, the first group ofProtestants arrived in Americawhere they established PlymouthColony. Ten years later a secondgroup settled down inMassachusetts Bay Colony. Thesetwo colonies accepted religion aslaw, custom and daily care. In1691 they were joined to form asingle colony.
The First Literary WorkThe First Literary Work
PURITANISM AS A SCHOOL OF THOUGHTPURITANISM AS A SCHOOL OF THOUGHT•Religious movement•Prime mover: God, all powerfull•Universe: God’s creation, handled by God•Man: God’s creature, a source of temptation•Attitude towards life: deterministic, everything was predetermined by God•Man’s duty: faith, the glorification of God and preparation for after life, to read the bible•Social attitude: obedience to authority•Man’s destiny: election or reprobation
PURITAN LITERATUREPURITAN LITERATURE Puritan Literature was a reflection of Puritan life; therefore it was connected withreligious matters. The Puritans literary writers produced mostly sermons, religiouspoems, biographies, diaries and essays. They expressed the experience of building anew land and the emotional and spiritual life of the individual. Their works were soberand realistic and were written in plain style. These writers produced a more refinedtype of literature. They made use of biblical analogies and allusions and of homelyexpressions.
SOME WRITERS OF THIS PERIODSOME WRITERS OF THIS PERIODWILLIAM BRADFORD – like all puritanshistorians, wrote with several guiding principles inmind. No “one” thing could be more important thanthe other because all things were under Divinecontrol. He was to tell every fact never stressing onefact or minimizing the other.Works: “The History of the Plymouth Plantation”and “The Mayflower Compact”.ROGER WILLIAMS – he was considered dangerous forthose who thought that uniform beliefs were essential to aneffective government. Because of his departure fromtraditional Puritan beliefs he has a special place in earlyAmerican literature.Work: “The Bloody Tenant of Persecution”
ANNE BRADSTREET – she wrote poetry andprose, but it was in poetry that she could showher best style with simplicity and erudition.Works: “Contemplations”, “The Prologue”,“Meditatios – For My Dear Son SimonBradstreet” and others.COTTON MATHER – he is often blamed forcausing the fury if the witchcraft scare which led tothe trial and execution of nineteen citizens of Salemin 1692. He wanted to prove with his work theexistence of devils and witches in New England.
JONATHAN EDWARDS – In the middle of the eighteenth century, when rigidreligious doctrines of the Puritans were beginning to give way to a practical idealism,Jonathan Edwards attempted to bring back early American theology. Edwards’ religiousbeliefs were deep-rooted in the ideas of John Calvin, who stressed the unquestionablemajesty of God over all things. It was Jonathan Edaward’s concept of a “Divine Light”flowing from God through various aspects of nature that built the foundation for thephilosophy of Ralph Waldo Emerson.Asserting the presence of sin and evil in the world, Edwardsbelieved that it was the job of the preacher to depict for manthe horrors of the world of the devil. Hence, we have theflaming scenes of hellfire and brimstone, the grotesque andviolent imagery of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”Sermons of this type he felt were necessary to encourage hisparishioners to strive forever to receive the mystical,wondrous grace of God. We can well imagine Edwards’words leaping from the pulpit in Einfield, Connecticut wherethey were first delivered, and searing the minds of theirfrightened listeners.