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Romanticism in American Literature.

R o m a n t i c i s m

- associated with imagination and boundlessness x classicism

- demands a greater personal freedom for the individual, and spontaneity in thought and action

- struggles against conventions

- emphasises natural relig., and an immediate relationship btw man x God

C o n c e r n :

- nature and the natural, the primitive and uncivilised way of life

- scenery, esp. its more untamed and disorderly manifestations

- human moods associated with the ‘moods’ of nature

- natural genius and the power of the imagination

- the cult of the Noble Savage

- preocc. with death, decay, ruins, and graveyards

=> melancholy, reflectivness, and sentimentality

R o m a n c e :

- usually non-didactic narratives of ideal love and chivalric adventures

- conc. with an avowedly fictive world

- a counterpart to a novel

- N. Hawthorne: the essential difference btw the 2 lies in the imaginative freedom granted to the writer of a romance enabling him to pursue psychological and mythical truth more single-mindedly

N o v e l :

- the name: from the Ita. ‘tale’ or ‘a piece of news’

- an extended piece of prose fiction containing characters, action, incident, and perhaps a plot

- gives to the imaginary the formal guarantee of the real


A m e r i c a n  R o m a n t i c i s m 

- the most clearly defined Romantic lit. movement in US = the Concord Transcendentalism

S e n t i m e n t a l  N o v e l :

- William Hill Brown’s Power of Sympathy (1789)

- Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple and A Tale of Truth (1791 GB, 1794 US)

- Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book (1819 – 20)

P i c a r e s q u e  N o v e l :

- H. H. Brackenridge’s The Modern Chivalry (1792 – 1815)

G o t h i c  R o m a n c e :

< W. Godwin's Caleb Williams

- C. B. Brown’s Wieland (1798), Ormond (1799), and Edgar Huntly (1799)

L o c a l  H i s t o r y  a n d  L e g e n d :

- W. Irving’s History of New York by Diedrich Knickerbocker (1809), The Sketch Book (1819 – 20), and A Tour on the Prairies (1835)

- N. Hawthorne

H i s t o r i c a l  R o m a n c e :

< W. Scott and M. Edgeworth

< Ind. Captivity Narratives

- J. F. Cooper

R o m a n t i c  F e a t u r e s :

- celebration of natural beauty and simple life: J. F. Cooper, R. W. Emerson, and H. D. Thoreau

- idealisation of the common man uncorrupted by civilisation: J. G. Whittier and J. F. Cooper

- primitivism and cult of the Noble Savage: H. W. Longfellow’s Hiawatha

- conc. with remote places: H. Melville

- medievalism: H. W. Longfellow

- pop. ballad revival: H. W. Longfellow and J. G. Whittier

- introspection: E. A. Poe and H. D. Thoreau

- morbid melancholy: E. A. Poe

- mystery: E. A. Poe

- individualism: R. W. Emerson, H. D. Thoreau, and W. Whitman

- technical innovation: W. Whitman’s prosody

- political liberalism: T. Jefferson and T. Paine

- humanitarianism: H. B. Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin


Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.

Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American  Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.

Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.

McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.

Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od  puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.

Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.


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