The New England Renaissance Essay

American literature.

in its most basic construction. has it roots in British literature. The earlier authors knew Chaucer. Shakespeare. Milton. Pope. Dryden. Spenser.

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Donne. and Bacon. Most households had transcripts of the Authorized Version of the Bible of 1611. normally known as the King James Version. As clip went on.

American authors continued to be influenced by Dickens. the Bronte sisters. Austen and Shelley. The separation of British and American literature began from the first measure onto what is now American dirt. but rejoins more so in this present epoch. as the ability to pass on and buy books internationally increases.

The American literary scene today was built on many old ages of metabolism. as much of a runing pot as the remainder of American civilization. The literary accomplishments of the Knickerbocker group of authors were practically accomplished by 1850. During the larger portion of that first half century. there had been no inquiry of the literary predomination of New York ; New England had played. relatively. an invisible portion in the field of national literature. A few of Longfellow’s earliest verse forms were published old to 1830.

and some of Whittier’s besides ; but it was truly close 1840 than 1830 that either obtained general acknowledgment as a poet.Emerson’s first series of Essays was published in 1841. and Hawthorne’s Mosses from an Old Manse in 1846. The Scarlet Letter did non look until 1850. It was. however. a period of rational activity. In Boston and Cambridge.

new thoughts were stirring the heads of the minds. and throughout the New England States. which were progressing quickly in stuff prosperity by the constitution of fabrication involvements and the edifice up of a rich trade with the East Indies. the rational life of the people was experiencing the stimulation of its ain energy in instead singular grade.The first stage of this new waking up is recognized in the Unitarian motion which spread over New England during the early old ages of the century. Resistance to the Calvinistic philosophies of the Presbyterian and other Orthodox denominations had existed in the settlements even in Revolutionary times. but it was non till near the terminal of the 18th century that this resistance assumed the facet of an of import spiritual contention.The sphere in which John Cotton and his grandson.

Cotton Mather. Roger Williams. and the many lesser disputants of the colonial period had waged their theological conflicts was once more the scene of an rational and spiritual agitation which in its immediate effects and subsequent influence was more far making even than that famed motion of the preceding century. — the Great Awakening of 1734-44.

In 1805. Harvard College — the fountain-head of New England literature — elected a Unitarian as professor of Divinity. By the terminal of the first decennary. about every outstanding Congregational dais in eastern Massachusetts was held by a sermonizer of Unitarian philosophy.

The theological seminary at Andover was founded in 1807 to battle the new instruction. Moses Stuart ( 1780- 1852 ) and Leonard Woods ( 1774-1854 ) became celebrated as instructors in this establishment and as guardians of the Orthodox credo. Lyman Beecher ( 1775-1863 ) . the male parent ofHenry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe. was the ablest and best-known title-holder of orthodoxy in New England. In 1826.

he was called from his church in Litchfield. Connecticut. to a outstanding Boston dais. that he might hold a place on the firing-line.The recognized leader of the Unitarians was William Ellery Channing.

who was born at Newport. Rhode Island. and received his instruction at Harvard. He became the curate of a Boston parish in 1803.

Cultured. eloquent. and a persuasive author. he became famed throughout New England for his oratorical gifts and as a theologian.

In earnestness of intent and in pureness of character. Channing represented the strength and virtuousness of the old Puritan stock.His portrayal. showing him in the conventional black gown of the reverend with the white sets at the cervix.

shows a face extremely rational and refined. with characteristics delicate. religious. about ascetic in their type. The influence of Dr.

Channing was strongly felt ; a discourse preached by him at an ordination in Baltimore. in 1819. is particularly celebrated as a rallying-cry of Unitarianism.

“Prove all things ; keep fast that which is good. ” was his text ; the sacredness of the single scruples and the freedom of single idea was his subject.While his Hagiographas are mostly controversial. he was besides a graceful litterateur. and his literary influence was felt by modern-day authors who were stirred by his idea and passion.

The Romantic motion. which originated in Germany but rapidly spread to England. France. and beyond. reached America around the twelvemonth 1820. some 20 old ages after William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge had revolutionized English poesy by printing Lyrical Ballads. In America as in Europe. fresh new vision electrified artistic and rational circles.

Yet there was an of import difference: Romanticism in America coincided with the period of national enlargement and the find of a typical American voice. The hardening of a national individuality and the billowy idealism and passion of Romanticism nurtured the chef-d’oeuvres of “the American Renaissance. ” Romantic thoughts centered about art as inspiration. the religious and aesthetic dimension of nature. and metaphors of organic growing. Art.

instead than scientific discipline. Romantics argued. could outdo express cosmopolitan truth.

The Romantics underscored the importance of expressive art for the person and society. In his essay “The Poet” ( 1844 ) . Ralph Waldo Emerson. possibly the most influential author of the Romantic epoch. asserts: “For all work forces live by truth. and stand in demand of look. In love.

in art. in greed. in political relations.

in labour. in games. we study to express our painful secret. The adult male is merely half himself.

the other half is his look. ” As the unique. subjective ego became of import. so did the kingdom of psychological science.Exceptional artistic effects and techniques were developed to arouse heightened psychological provinces. The “sublime” — an consequence of beauty in magnificence produced feelings of awe.

fear. enormousness. and a power beyond human comprehension. Romanticism was affirmatory and appropriate for most American poets and originative litterateurs. America’s huge mountains. comeuppances.

and Torrid Zones embodied the sublime. The Romantic spirit seemed peculiarly suited to American democracy: It stressed individuality. affirmed the value of the common individual. and looked to the divine imaginativeness for its aesthetic and ethical values.Surely the New England Transcendentalists — Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Henry David Thoreau. and their associates — were inspired to a new optimistic avowal by the Romantic motion. In New England. Romanticism fell upon fertile dirt. The Transcendentalist motion was a reaction against eighteenth century rationalism and a manifestation of the general human-centered tendency of 19th century idea.

The motion was based on a cardinal belief in the integrity of the universe and God. The psyche of each person was thought to be indistinguishable with the universe — a microcosm of the universe itself.The philosophy of self- trust and individuality developed through the belief in the designation of the single psyche with God. Transcendentalism was closely connected with Concord. a little New England small town 32 kilometres west of Boston. Concord was the first inland colony of the original Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Surrounded by wood. it was and remains a peaceable town near plenty to Boston’s talks. bookshops.

and colleges to be intensely cultivated. but far plenty off to be calm.Concord was the site of the first conflict of the American Revolution. and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s verse form marking the conflict. “Concord Hymn. ” has one of the most celebrated gap stanzas in American literature: By the rude span that arched the floodTheir flag to April’s zephyr unfurled. Here one time the embattled husbandmans stood And fired the shooting heard round the universe.

Concord was the first rural artist’s settlement. and the first topographic point to offer a religious and cultural option to American philistinism. It was a topographic point of exalted conversation and simple life.Emerson. who moved to Concord in 1834.

and Thoreau are most closely associated with the town. but the venue besides attracted the novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne. the feminist author Margaret Fuller.

the pedagogue Bronson Alcott. and the poet William Ellery Channing. The Transcendental Club was slackly organized in 1836 and included.

at assorted times. Emerson. Thoreau. Fuller. Channing. Bronson Alcott.

Orestes Brownson. Theodore Parker. and others. The Transcendentalists published a quarterly magazine. The Dial. which lasted four old ages and was foremost edited by Margaret Fuller and subsequently by Emerson.

Reform attempts engaged them every bit good as literature. A figure of Transcendentalists were emancipationists. and some were involved in experimental Utopian communities such as nearby Brook Farm ( described in Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance ) and Fruitlands. Unlike many European groups. the Transcendentalists ne’er issued a pronunciamento. They insisted on single differences — on the alone point of view of the person. American Transcendental Romantics pushed extremist individuality to the extreme.

American authors frequently saw themselves as alone adventurers outside society and convention.The American hero — like Herman Melville’s Captain Ahab. or Mark Twain’s Huck Finn.

or Edgar Allan Poe’s Arthur Gordon Pym — typically faced hazard. or even certain devastation. in the chase of metaphysical self-discovery. For the Romantic American author. nil was a given.

Literary and societal conventions. far from being helpful. were unsafe. There was enormous force per unit area to detect an reliable literary signifier. content.

and voice — all at the same clip. It is clear from the many chef-d’oeuvres produced in the three decennaries before the U. S.Civil War ( 1861-65 ) that American authors rose to the challenge.

In their clip. the Boston Brahmins supplied the most well-thought-of and truly cultivated literary supreme authorities of the United States. Their lives fitted a pleasant form of wealth and leisure directed by the strong New England work ethic and regard for larning. In an earlier Puritan age. the Boston Brahmins would hold been curates ; in the nineteenth century.

they became professors. frequently at Harvard. Late in life they sometimes became embassadors or received honorary grades from European establishments.

Most of them travelled or were educated in Europe: They were familiar with the thoughts and books of Britain. Germany. and France. and frequently Italy and Spain. Upper category in background but democratic in understanding. the Brahmin poets carried their genteel.

European- oriented positions to every subdivision of the United States. through public talks at the 3. 000 secondary schools and in the pages of two influential Boston magazines. the North American Review and the Atlantic Monthly. The Hagiographas of the Brahmin poets fused American and European traditions and sought to make a continuity of shared Atlantic experience.These scholar-poets attempted to educate and promote the general public by presenting a European dimension to American literature. Ironically.

their overall consequence was conservative. By take a firm standing on European things and signifiers. they retarded the growing of a typical American consciousness. Well-meaning work forces.

their conservative backgrounds blinded them to the make bolding innovativeness of Thoreau. Whitman. and Edgar Allan Poe. They were pillars of what was called the “genteel tradition” that three coevalss of American realists had to conflict.Partially because of their benign but bland influence.

it was about 100 old ages before the typical American mastermind of Whitman. Melville. Thoreau. and Poe was by and large recognized in the United States. New England sparkled with rational energy in the old ages before the Civil War.

Some of the stars that shine more brilliantly today than the celebrated configuration of Brahmans were dimmed by poorness or accidents of gender or race in their ain clip. Modern readers progressively value the work of abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier and women’s rightist and societal reformist Margaret Fuller.