Каминяр Дмитрий Генаддьевич: другие произведения.

Self-representation in the 19th-century American literature

"Самиздат": [Регистрация] [Найти] [Рейтинги] [Обсуждения] [Новинки] [Обзоры] [Помощь|Техвопросы]
Конкурсы романов на Author.Today
Творчество как воздух: VK, Telegram
 Ваша оценка:

   Dmitri Kaminiar
   Student #995059083
   24 November 2009

Self-representation in 19th-century American literature

   As the dust, both literal and metaphorical, settled after the American war for independence, the newly-minted American people began to wonder, what has become of them now that they were no longer subjects to the English crown. They did not doubt that their new political independence was good, but how so? Various literary works of that time strove and struggled with that question, seeking to reflect this new independence in the literary works. To accomplish that, they apparently turned away from Europe's literary tradition, and instead reached out to their audiences using more `natural' sources, including, but not only limiting themselves to, nature.
   Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay Nature, is, of course, grounded very deeply in nature, as he uses it, obviously, as a metaphorical engine for the message of his essay, which in the premise says that "Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul. Strictly speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, all which Philosophy distinguishes as the NOT ME, that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, NATURE" (Nature, pg. 36). Written in 1836, this essay takes up the old Christian ideals regarding the humanity and similar issues, and then it substitutes, or attempts to at any rate, Emerson's own nature-based ideals, aka "the values of nature" that are related to beauty, discipline, idealism and others - to the human self, in other words.
   It can be argued, however, that Emerson's approach (that had started the rise of transcendentalism philosophy movement in the US) is essentially a re-writing of the same old Christian ideals under a new guise, that of `nature-worship' or of transcendentalism. It may be a dubious claim, but one that can be made, nonetheless. With Emily Dickinson, however, the situation is quite different.
   As both a person and an author, Emily Dickinson could be considered to be an unusual, perhaps even eccentric person, but the despite the odd shape of her poems, her wording was quite simple, and her message no more complex than Emerson's - but unlike him, nature is used mostly as background or backdrop in her poetry, and sometimes she drops it altogether, as she does in her poem #280:
   I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,
   And Mourners to and fro
   Kept treading -- treading -- till it seemed
   That Sense was breaking through --
   (The poems of Emily Dickinson, pg 205)
   Emily Dickinson's poetry, as the above quotation demonstrates, is as internally oriented, as Emerson's prose is oriented externally. Her works are all about examination of self, even if it is just her own self, and as such they are different from Emerson's works. It should be remembered, though, that Emily Dickinson had written mostly for herself than for anyone else, and as such, any national politics - even the declaration of independence - were missing from her writings: the latter were entirely inwards-oriented, and anything outside of Emily Dickinson proper just did not concern her.
   Walter "Walt" Whitman had written his poetry collection Leaves of Grass in 1855, and just like Emerson's essays, there are plenty of allusions to nature, yet there are important differences too:
   The sharp-hoof'd moose of the north, the cat on the house-sill, the chickadee, the prairie-dog,
   The litter of the grunting sow as they tug at her teats,
   The brood of the turkey-hen and she with her half-spread wings,
   I see in them and myself the same old law.
   What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,
   Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,
   Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,
   Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,
   Scattering it freely forever.
   (Song of Myself, pg. 40)
   As the contrasting quotations demonstrate, on one hand Whitman does often use nature images in his poetry collection, just like Emerson did in his essays, but the main theme of his poetry - his self - is closer to the theme of Dickinson's poems, simply by virtue of him talking directly about himself, just as she did. Still, just like Emerson, Whitman's concept of self is more or less politically-aware, as the stanza 10 of his Song of Myself clearly indicates. Just like Emerson too, Whitman goes outside of himself, even if he does not go as far out as Emerson had done.
   Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Walt Whitman had written several very different works of literature, each aimed at the representation of one's self, as each of them saw it, and each of them became a literary success even if they did not see eye-to-eye at all. That is a testament of the versatility of American literature that can achieve greatness through different paths in one and the same century, a chronological blink of an eye. It is also the testament to the always-changing nature of self-representation, both as a literary and a literal topic, for each and every person represents their self in their own way.
   Dickinson, Emily. The Poems of Emily Dickinson. Ed. Martha Dickinson Bianchi and Alfred Leete Hampson. London: Jonathan Cape Ltd., 1937.
   Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Selected Essays. Ed. John Seelye. Markham: Penguin Books Canada Limited, 1982.
   Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. London: Penguin Books Ltd., 2005.
 Ваша оценка:

Связаться с программистом сайта.

Новые книги авторов СИ, вышедшие из печати:
Э.Бланк "Пленница чужого мира" О.Копылова "Невеста звездного принца" А.Позин "Меч Тамерлана.Крестьянский сын,дворянская дочь"

Как попасть в этoт список
Сайт - "Художники" .. || .. Доска об'явлений "Книги"