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            Before
the European arrived in America, their literature was about myths, tales,
legends and song lyrics of Indian cultures. The origin of American literature there
was unique American Characteristics and the breadth of its production usually
now cause it to be considered a separate path and tradition. In America the
native did not develop anything about the term “literature” they used to do it
orally. At that time, tribes’ believe were really strong. They worship to God,
animals, plants, saints, and so on. The government’s system were around the
academy for the elders’ council for the theocracies. This tribal variation was
also included in literature.

            First
period is The Colonial Period
(1492-1700), according to Kathryn VanSpanckeren’s book. It was the era which just English explored and claimed with the
territories, this is the beginning of America English literature which is also
conducted with French, Spanish, and Duty literature. During this period the
printing press was active in many areas. According to Wikipedia, when the English conquered New Amsterdam
in 1664, they renamed it New York and changed the administrative language from
Dutch to English. The first writer in this era
was Captain John Smith with his works ‘The
Generall Historie of Virginia (it describes the problems of colonializing the
area), New England, and the Summer Isles (1624)’.

            Second periods is The Revolutionary Period (1700-1800). The revolutionary period also contained political writings,
including those by colonist Samuel Adams. In this period the writers
become more politically, anti-British, independent, and rationalism. Two key figures were Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin are
esteemed works with their wit and influence toward the formation of a budding
American identity. Moreover, Paine’s works called Common Sense is a sharp critique of the colonial system and explains why the
Americans should rise against the English.

            Third
periods is The Romantic Period
(1820-1860). The period of romanticism represented a revolt against classicism and its
values such as reason and form. Walt Whitman, Nathaniel
Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and
Transcendentalists represent the firs great literary generation produced in the
United States. In the form Hawthorne called the ‘romance’ a heightened,
emotional, and symbolic form of the novel was a romantic vision tended to
express itself. The
Knickerbockers were a group of romantic writers who contributed to The
Knickerbocker, a magazine published in New York. They named themselves after Washington Irving’s A History of New
York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker. Irving was America’s first professional writer
and the founder of short story in the USA, “Rip
Van Winkle” being one of his most
famous short stories.

            Fourth periods is The
Rise of Realism (1860-1930). In this period the writers left behind the
styles and the topics was adopted by the previous generation and rather
concerned on describing life as it was with its negatives. It was the era of
industrialization and migration (the impact of American Civil War). Novel was
the main genre. The most famous writers in this era was Mark Twain which his
novel called The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,
describe about the life of a problem boy. Moreover, the others works of him
were The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn,
The Prince and the Pauper, and A
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

            Fifth periods is The Naturalism (last decade of 19th).
This era was the impact of Darwin’s evolutionary theory on the American
thought. The naturalist chose their subject from the lower ranks of the
society, portrayed misery and poverty of the underdogs who were demonstrably
victims of society and nature. The most familiar themes that used in American
Naturalism was about human bestiality, an explanation of sexual desire. The most influence
writers was Stephen Crane with his work called Red Badge of Courage which is about a naïve soldier’s experience in
the civil war. Another works of him was Maggie:
A girl of the Street which is about New York prostitute.    

            Sixth periods is The Modernism and Experimentation (first
half of 20th Century). In this period, booming industry and material
prosperity in contrast with sense of unease and restlessness underneath. The society feelings of
fear, loss, disorientation and disillusionment because of the impact of war. At
that time, the writers were looking for new ways of writing and new topics. The
most literatures were about imagist movement, modernism in poetry, the Lost
Generation, depression period, the Beat Movement, American fiction after World
War II, new fiction and Twentieth-century America Drama. Ernest Hemingway is probably the most famous representative. His novelette The Old Man and the Sea earned him
the Nobel Prize for literature. It shows the struggle between a fisher-man
called Santiago and the natural world.

            Seventh
periods is The Contemporary period. According
to Kathryn VanSpanckeren’s book, The United States is one of the most diverse nations in the
world. Its dynamic population of about 300 million boast more than 30 million
foreign-born individuals who speak numerous languages and dialects. Some
one million new immigrants arrive each year, many from Asia and Latin America.
Literature in the United States today is likewise dazzlingly diverse, exciting,
and evolving. The author in this period followed in the tradition developed by
their predecessors. There is new topic that became popular such as the revolt
against the system, ethnic and racial issues, the holocaust, new genres such as
comics books, fantasy novels, sci-fi, and horror stories. American drama was
going through its best time. The writer is J.D Salinger with his work The Catcher in the Rye, a short novel
about a young man leaving his university studies, disgusted with people around
him. 

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