The New England Renaissance

1942 WordsSep 29, 20058 Pages
The New England Renaissance (1800 - 1860) American literature, in its most basic structure, has it roots in British literature. The earlier writers knew Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope, Dryden, Spenser, Donne, and Bacon. Most families had copies of the Authorized Version of the Bible of 1611, commonly known as the King James Version. As time went on, American writers continued to be influenced by Dickens, the Bronte sisters , Austen and Shelley. The separation of British and American literature began from the first step onto what is now American soil, but rejoins more so in this present era, as the ability to communicate and purchase books internationally increases. The American literary…show more content…
In his essay "The Poet" (1844), Ralph Waldo Emerson, perhaps the most influential writer of the Romantic era, asserts: "For all men live by truth, and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression." As the unique, subjective self became important, so did the realm of psychology. Exceptional artistic effects and techniques were developed to evoke heightened psychological states. The "sublime" -- an effect of beauty in grandeur produced feelings of awe, reverence, vastness, and a power beyond human comprehension. Romanticism was affirmative and appropriate for most American poets and creative essayists. America's vast mountains, deserts, and tropics embodied the sublime. The Romantic spirit seemed particularly suited to American democracy: It stressed individualism, affirmed the value of the common person, and looked to the inspired imagination for its aesthetic and ethical values. Certainly the New England Transcendentalists -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and their associates -- were inspired to a new optimistic affirmation by the Romantic movement. In New England, Romanticism fell upon fertile soil. The Transcendentalist movement was a reaction against 18th century rationalism and a manifestation of the general

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