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英语专业八级美国文学简史之美国浪漫主义

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Chapter 2 American Romanticism

Section 1 Early Romantic Period

What is Romanticism?

l An approach from ancient Greek: Plato

l A literary trend: 18c in Britain (1798~1832)

l Schlegel Bros.

I. Preview: Characteristics of romanticism

1. subjectivity

(1) feeling and emotions, finding truth

(2) emphasis on imagination

(3) emphasis on individualism – personal freedom, no hero worship, natural goodness of human beings

2. back to medieval, esp medieval folk literature

(1) unrestrained by classical rules

(2) full of imagination

(3) colloquial language

(4) freedom of imagination

(5) genuine in feelings: answer their call for classics

3. back to nature

nature is “breathing living thing” (Rousseau)

II. American Romanticism

1. Background

(1) Political background and economic development

(2) Romantic movement in European countries

Derivative – foreign influence

2. features

(1) American romanticism was in essence the expression of “a real new experience and contained “an alien quality” for the simple reason that “the spirit of the place” was radically new and alien.

(2) There is American Puritanism as a cultural heritage to consider. American romantic authors tended more to moralize. Many American romantic writings intended to edify more than they entertained.

(3) The “newness” of Americans as a nation is in connection with American Romanticism.

(4) As a logical result of the foreign and native factors at work, American romanticism was both imitative and independent.

III. Washington Irving

1. several names attached to Irving

(1) first American writer

(2) the messenger sent from the new world to the old world

(3) father of American literature

2. life

3. works

(1) A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty

(2) The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (He won a measure of international recognition with the publication of this.)

(3) The History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus

(4) A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada

(5) The Alhambra

4. Literary career: two parts

(1) 1809~1832

a. Subjects are either English or European

b. Conservative love for the antique

(2) 1832~1859: back to US

5. style – beautiful

(1) gentility, urbanity, pleasantness

(2) avoiding moralizing – amusing and entertaining

(3) enveloping stories in an atmosphere

(4) vivid and true characters

(5) humour – smiling while reading

(6) musical language

IV. James Fenimore Cooper

1. life

2. works

(1) Precaution (1820, his first novel, imitating Austen’s Pride and Prejudice)

(2) The Spy (his second novel and great success)

(3) Leatherstocking Tales (his masterpiece, a series of five novels)

The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, The Pioneer, The Prairie

3. point of view

the theme of wilderness vs. civilization, freedom vs. law, order vs. change, aristocrat vs. democrat, natural rights vs. legal rights

4. style

(1) highly imaginative

(2) good at inventing tales

(3) good at landscape description

(4) conservative

(5) characterization wooden and lacking in probability

(6) language and use of dialect not authentic

5. literary achievements

He created a myth about the formative period of the American nation. If the history of the United States is, in a sense, the process of the American settlers exploring and pushing the American frontier forever westward, then Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales effectively approximates the American national experience of adventure into the West. He turned the west and frontier as a useable past and he helped to introduce western tradition to American literature.

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