REALISM OF AMERICAN
H. H. Boyesen
Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen ( 1848-95) immigrated from his native Norway to America in 1869. After several years of newspaper work, he became a professor of Germanic languages, first at Cornell and then for the remainder of his life at Columbia. He published actively in various fields, including literary criticism, Scandivanian studies, and novels with strong social themes, of which The Mammon of Unrighteousness ( 1891) and The Golden Calf ( 1892) were the most well received. He was frequently identified during the late 1880s and early 1890s as a strong supporter of Howellsian realism.
In a letter to his friend Zelter (Vol. IV., p. 343), Goethe, in his disgust at the extravagances of the Romantic School, quotes a verse, which he has just written, prophetic of the future of American literature. Although it makes no claim to poetic merit, the sentiment which it expresses is sufficiently remarkable to deserve translation:
America, thy happy lot
Above old Europe's I exalt;
Thou hast no castle ruin hoar
No giant columns of basalt.
Thy soul is not troubled
In living light of day
By useless traditions,
Vain strife and affray.
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Publication information: Book title: Documents of American Realism and Naturalism. Contributors: Donald Pizer - Editor. Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press. Place of publication: Carbondale, IL. Publication year: 1988. Page number: 144.
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