William Carlos Williams and the New American Culture

1192 Words5 Pages
William Carlos Williams' poetry suggest two philosophies he had during his life. While not these ideas are not contrary, they also are not wholly supportive of one another. The first is his rejection of the American Dream – the belief that hard work will lead to success. It is important, with regard to the American Dream, to note Williams' own success within the framework of American society. The second goal seems to be an attempt to create a new, complete, American Culture. As a member of the modernist movement, Williams stands apart from many of his contemporaries not because he was radically different, but because of his approach to literature. While many of his peers focused on a rapidly changing civilization (especially in the wake of the First World War), and did so with continued reference to their European history, and the European literary tradition, Williams did not. Instead, he actively tried to create (not reshape, as he believed one did not yet exist) an American Culture. The American Dream – the idea that hard work will result in success – did not resonate with Williams. In his poetry, there is a clear rejection of this idea, despite the irony of his success under the system. It is completely worth noting that despite the working-class background of his family, Williams was able to attend school through to a complete Ph. D in Medicine from one of the country's most respected schools, the University of Pennsylvania1. He continued to work as both, a physician and a poet, finding success at both. Despite this success, Williams (perhaps in part of his own diverse background) saw that the American Dream was not representative of a “unified vision of American Culture,” and attempted to bring this to the foref... ... middle of paper ... ...lliam Carlos Williams, Jay Wright, and Nicolás Guillén. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987. Schultz, Susan M. A Poetics of Impasse in Modern and Contemporary American Poetry. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama, 2005. Steinman, Lisa Malinowski. Made in America: Science, Technology, and American Modernist Poets. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987. Williams, William Carlos. “The Novel Demeuble.” In The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. Volume D. New York: Norton, 2012. 344-346. Williams, William Carlos. “The Red Wheelbarrow.” In The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. Volume D. New York: Norton, 2012. 309. Williams, William Carlos. “The Widow's Lament in Springtime.” In The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. Volume D. New York: Norton, 2012. 305-306.
Open Document