Beforethe European arrived in America, their literature was about myths, tales,legends and song lyrics of Indian cultures. The origin of American literature therewas unique American Characteristics and the breadth of its production usuallynow cause it to be considered a separate path and tradition. In America thenative did not develop anything about the term “literature” they used to do itorally. At that time, tribes’ believe were really strong. They worship to God,animals, plants, saints, and so on.
The government’s system were around theacademy for the elders’ council for the theocracies. This tribal variation wasalso included in literature. Firstperiod is The Colonial Period(1492-1700), according to Kathryn VanSpanckeren’s book. It was the era which just English explored and claimed with theterritories, this is the beginning of America English literature which is alsoconducted with French, Spanish, and Duty literature. During this period theprinting press was active in many areas.
According to Wikipedia, when the English conquered New Amsterdamin 1664, they renamed it New York and changed the administrative language fromDutch to English. Captain John Smith was thefirst writer in this period with his works ‘TheGenerall Historie of Virginia. It is about the problem of colonializing the area.
(It describes the problems of colonializing the area). Second periods is The Revolutionary Period (1700-1800). The revolutionary period contained political theme in writings,including some works by colonist Samuel Adams. In this period the writersbecome more politically, anti-British, independent, and rationalism. The mostfamous figures in this period were Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. The mostfamous works by Benjamin Franklin were Franklin’sPoor Richard’s Almanac and The Autobiographyof Benjamin Franklin. These works influencestoward the formation of American identity.
Moreover, Paine’s workscalled Common Sense is a sharpcritique of the colonial systemand explains why the Americans should rise against the English. Thirdperiods is The Romantic Period(1820-1860). The period of romanticism represented a revolt against classicism and itsvalues such as reason and form. In this period, WaltWhitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, EmilyDickinson, and Transcendentalists represent the first great literary generationproduced in America. In the form Hawthorne called the ‘romance’ a development,emotional, and symbolic form of the novel was a romantic vision tended toexpress itself. TheKnickerbockers were a group of romantic writers who contributed to TheKnickerbocker, a magazine published in New York.
They named themselves after Washington Irving’s A History of NewYork, by Diedrich Knickerbocker. Irving was America’s first professional writerand the founder of short story in the USA, “RipVan Winkle” being one of his mostfamous short stories. Fourth periods is TheRise of Realism (1860-1930). In this period the writers left behind thestyles and the topics was adopted by the previous generation and ratherconcerned on describing life as it was with its negatives. It was the era ofindustrialization and migration which is the impact of American Civil War.
Novel was the main genre. The most famous writers in this era was Mark Twainwhich his novel called The Adventures ofTom Sawyer, describe about the life of a problem boy. Moreover, the othersworks of him were The Adventure ofHuckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. Fifth periods is The Naturalism period (last decade of 19th).This era was the impact of Darwin’s invention about evolutionary theory onthe American thought. The naturalist opted their subject from the lower ranksof the society, portrayed torment and poverty.
The most familiar themes thatused in this era was about human bestiality, an explanation of sexual desire.The most influence writers was Stephen Crane with his work called Red Badge of Courage which is about anaïve soldier’s experience in the civil war. Another works of him was Maggie: A girl of the Street which isabout New York prostitute. Sixth periods is The Modernism and Experimentation (firsthalf of 20th Century). In this period, the industry was developso greatly and material prosperity in contrast with sense of unease andrestlessness underneath. The society feelings of fear, loss, disorientation anddisillusionment because of the impact of war. At that time, the writers werelooking for new ways of writing and new topics.
The most literatures were aboutimagist movement, modernism in poetry, the Lost Generation, depression period,the Beat Movement, American fiction after World War II, new fiction andTwentieth-century America Drama. ErnestHemingway is probablythe most famous representative. His novelette The Old Man and the Sea earned him the Nobel Prize forliterature. It shows the struggle between a fisher-man called Santiago and thenatural world. Seventhperiods is The Contemporary period. Accordingto Kathryn VanSpanckeren’s book, The United States is one of the most diverse nations in theworld. Its dynamic population of about 300 million boast more than 30 millionforeign-born individuals who speak numerous languages and dialects.
Someone million new immigrants arrive each year, many from Asia and Latin America.Literature in the United States today is likewise dazzlingly diverse, exciting,and evolving. The author in this period followed in the tradition developed bytheir predecessors. There is new topic that became popular such as the revoltagainst the system, ethnic and racial issues, the holocaust, new genres such ascomics books, fantasy novels, sci-fi, and horror stories. American drama wasgoing through its best time.
The writer is J.D Salinger with his work The Catcher in the Rye, a short novelabout a young man leaving his university studies, disgusted with people aroundhim.