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What Is American Literature Now?

American Literature Now

Art plays an extremely important role in the history of humanity. Starting from the early days’ cave drawings and up to contemporary exhibitions, concerts and literature contests, it plays a specific role in our lives. It is mainly a product of our emotions and esthetic feelings of our inner and outer world. Literature in this sense appeals to emotions and feelings of people not by visuals or sounds, but by the power of words. By creating specific images in our imagination and placing different accents on various kinds of themes, it may change our perception of the world. Often the type of this accent depends on the writer, his or her life, personal attitudes, and the country he or she represents. Some people say that literature is always literature and there are no specific markers to differentiate one piece of writing from another. The latter makes us wonder, what is special about the American literature? Is it unique and presents the vision of American writers or do their writings have no distinctive features?  This paper will investigate what is so special about the American literature.

First, in order to differentiate the traits of the works of one group of authors from another on the basis of their birthplace, one needs to consider the language. The situation with the American poems and novels, in this case, looks a bit more complicated than with any other language. For example, Russian, German or any other writers can claim their works to be unique, because they use the mighty resources of their native languages. The situation with English writers seems to be characterized in the other way. All writers from English-speaking countries seem to be creating their images using only English. Nevertheless, in order to disproof this statement and make an American writer feel an American one has to place him or her among the readers and writers from the other English-speaking countries. Collins shares such experience: “…each reading left me with the same small but nagging realization: that my poems were written not in English but in American… I was discovering that idiomatic American is difficult to translate not only into French or German, but into English.” (Collins) Thus, idioms or the essence of any language and their connection with national culture reveal themselves differently in any English culture throughout the world. Still, this is not only language specific that separates American writers from the others.

Another way of division American writers from the others is by their style and the main themes of their novels and poems. For instance, the poem “Fishing on the Susquehanna in July” (Collins) can be characterized as written by an American poet in terms of style and created images. It has no rhyme, but has a three-verse structure. The lack of rhyme though is not characterizing the poem itself as non-melodic; it preserves melody on the speech level, which is a peculiar thing of American poetry. This piece of writing creates an extremely realistic image appealing to personal experiences and feelings, which is an obvious thing for American poetry in general. The author makes the reader share his image as if the reader is strolling along a gallery and observing pictures described by Collins. This poem’s experience intensified by idioms, such as “to manufacture the sensation”, “rowing upstream”, “balance a little egg of time” (Collins) and others, makes the reader feel strong American voice. This specific of Collins’ idiomatic language is also making him a unique poet among the other American poets. As we see from the example presented above, American poetry is a result of modernist and post-modernist literature movements together with social concerns and inner motivation to separate oneself from the cradle of English literature. Thus, American literature has developed its styles, system of images, major themes, and forms.

From these arguments we may assume that American literature is a unique phenomenon in the world’s literature. Being the art of word as well as any other nation’s literature, it still preserves its extraordinary features. Among these traits one can name particular forms, images, styles, and major themes. One more thing that adds to the arguments is the specifics of American English. Being an English language, it has changed under the influences of social life and different realities thus reflecting American way of thinking. Social and cultural transformations of people from a separate continent have been represented in the art of the American nation. That is why American writing can be characterized as an exclusive representative of the international family of the world of arts. Thus, America has its writers describing their vision of their inner and outer world in their language.

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