A Time of Harvest: American Literature, 1910-1960

A Time of Harvest: American Literature, 1910-1960

A Time of Harvest: American Literature, 1910-1960

A Time of Harvest: American Literature, 1910-1960

Excerpt

During the first half of the twentieth century the literature of the United States experienced a creative movement which, when it reached an equilibrium in the period between the two World Wars, produced some of the finest writing to have come from this continent in all its history.

Only once before had this happened, when the romantic movement flowered between 1835 and 1855 on the Atlantic seaboard in the work of Cooper and Irving, Poe and Emerson, Hawthorne and Melville, and Whitman. Now the impetus came from all parts of the continent, from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Canadian to the Mexican border, and the group of writers was larger and more diverse--Mark Twain and Henry James, Dreiser and Frost, Lewis and O'Neill, Eliot, Faulkner, Hemingway, and many more.

In each case, the literary movement in America was a part of a creative awakening in Europe, but it was clearly distinguishable from its counterparts in England, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, and Scandinavia; for the civilization of the United States differed sharply from those of Europe in that, until very recent years, it was constantly in a state of movement and flux. American culture--the whole pattern of a way of life--is a transplanted culture: it is the result of the impact of a sophisticated culture on a constantly receding wilderness. This is not true of . . .

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