Following the influx of the puritanical style of writing in America during the 17th Century by the Founding Fathers, it could be said that what we now know as the collective `American writing' was once created almost as an effort to distance its own style from that of other European styles.
Perhaps not being incredibly popular outside their own circle of influence, writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and other Transcendentalists began, in the 19th Century, to weave a new form of writing using philosophy as the `vehicle of thought' . While this allowed them to explore new and untouched areas in the mind, it also greatly influenced many later writers from Henry Thoreau to the more `popular' and recent Mark Twain.
Let us begin with Henry Thoreau's Walden. While Thoreau was educated in Harvard University, he lived, through a time of vast change in America. During a rise in cultural expansion and globalisation, America became more unified through the addition of new states such as Florida in 1845 and later Texas. This change also brought about a huge increase in population with numbers rising from 17 million to 133 million in 1930.
However, it seems that this explosion of life in America inspired Thoreau, as well as many of his contemporaries to, not praise the state and revel in the sense of security and comfort that the ever-prosperous America offered as many `popular' writers at the time did, but instead challenge its beliefs.
As inspiration for Walden, Thoreau lived `in the woods...in a house I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond' for, we are told, 15 years, thus distancing himself from popular culture and humanity in general. During his time there he began questioning many things, especially Benj...
... middle of paper ...
...me, seen as `popular' in anyway outside the literary circle. The public simply wanted to read a good story and not have to think about their own positions in society for fear of humiliation perhaps. However, as time passes, these writers' work becomes increasingly relevant to the society in which we live. This was highlighted during the Vietnam War long after Henry Thoreau's death. Walden was held in extremely high regard by those who, like Thoreau during the war against Mexico, skipped conscription.
- Selected by Hughes, Ted. Emily Dickinson. Ed Ted Hughes. (Faber and Faber, 2001)
- The Norton Anthology of American Literature, sixth edition. Ed Nina Baym (Norton 2003)
- Thoreau, Henry David. Walden or Life in the Woods, pg 1807 - 1982. (1846-50)
- Melville, Herman. Bartleby the Scrivener, pg 2330 - 2355. (1853)
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The expression Romantic gained currency during its own time, roughly 1780-1850. However, the Romantic era is to identify a period in which certain ideas and attitudes arose, gained the idea of intellectual achievement and became dominant. This is why , they became the dominant mode of expression. Which tells us something else about the Romantic era which expression was perhaps everything to do with them -- expression in art, music, poetry, drama, literature and philosophy. Romantic ideas arose both as implicit and explicit criticisms of 18th century Enlightenment thought.... [tags: Literature Writers Compare Contrast]
1598 words (4.6 pages)
- Henry David Thoreau once said, “Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly needed to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail” (The). This quote describes the attitude that Thoreau had toward life. He wanted to make life as simple as it could be, which he achieved throughout his lifetime.... [tags: criticism, writer, social norm]
1228 words (3.5 pages)
- The transcendentalist movement began in the 1830s. Many leaders throughout this movement expressed their beliefs and ideas through writing. The transcendentalist movement’s main focus was on independence. There were many people involved in this movement, but the most important person was Ralph Waldo Emerson. He became a leading spokesman and played a key role in the transcendentalist movement. Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803 in Boston (Cayton). He is the son of Ruth Haskins Emerson and William Emerson.... [tags: biography, literature, nature]
1702 words (4.9 pages)
- Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, “I do not want to be a doctor and live by men’s diseases, nor minister to live by their sins, nor a lawyer and live by men’s quarrels. So, I don’t see that there is anything left for me but to be an author” (Nathaniel). This statement describes Hawthorne’s personality and life in a way that no other quote could. Nathaniel Hawthorne was an Anti-Transcendentalist writer, meaning that he had a negative view of all humans. The Anti-Transcendentalist movement was a pessimistic branch of Romanticism, which began in the mid 1800s and lasted until the late 1800s.... [tags: transcendentalist writer, romanticism]
925 words (2.6 pages)
- ... The poem shared the just of the story but by saying Paul warned people out of the goodness of his heart is what made it romanticized. He was ordered to do so and had knowledge of the war for some time before that. Some other fireside poets were, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, & John Greenleaf Whittier. Just as the Fire side poets, the transcendentalist were also really into nature. The transcendentalist had a deep love for nature. They believed that life with more simplicity is just as fulfilling if not more than a life filled with worldly possessions.... [tags: transcendentalist, gothic, war]
585 words (1.7 pages)
- Ralph Waldo Emerson: A Man Thinking By the early 1800’s, a new sense of literary freedom was present in America. The colonial writers of the past were heavily influenced by their European roots, and the limits of technology had kept printed literature from great diversification. By the late 1700’s however, American population was exploding, the printed word had become much more accessible, and the newfound freedom from Britain created an environment perfect for the spread of new ideas. The search for a national identity and a spirit of nonconformity had entered the hearts of many Americans, such as writers David Hume, Henry David Thoreau, George Putnam, and Frederick Henry Hedge.... [tags: Transcendentalist movement, poet, essayist]
1628 words (4.7 pages)
- The Changing Role of Women: Identify the new ways that women were involved in society in the United States. Be sure to include organizations that developed, meetings they held and actions they took, and results of those actions. As the century immediately following the American Revolution, the 19th century experienced a rise in feminism as it harbored the first feminist movement in America. Although some women chose to embrace their “roots” by retaining their domestic sphere of influence, many women began to show discontent with the limited number of rights women held.... [tags: american history]
1066 words (3 pages)
- The New England Renaissance brought out two distinct, yet influential movements known as transcendentalism and anti-transcendentalism. The two concentrated on intuition and human nature and formed a revolt against previously accepted ideas such as Calvinist orthodoxy, strict Puritan attitudes, ritualism, and the dogmatic theology of religious institutions. Transcendentalism is a term rooted back to Plato, a Greek philosopher who first affirmed the existence of absolute goodness, which he characterized as beyond something of description and as knowable only through intuition.... [tags: Transcendentalism Essays]
1021 words (2.9 pages)
- Transcendentalism blossomed during the 1800s with the help of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Emily Dickinson. They were Transcendentalists who expressed their beliefs through writings from poems to essays and they believed that “the individual was at the center of the universe” (Prentice Hall 384). The idea of Transcendentalism is complex and for this reason, only a number of people understood it. Emerson, Thoreau, and Dickinson, were one of the many people who were Transcendentalist; these writers went out of their way in society to represent their beliefs.... [tags: Literary Analysis, Emerson, Thoreau, Dickinson]
914 words (2.6 pages)
- Transcendentalism Many people have theories and philosophies about life in general. There have been hundreds of thousands of books published by many different people on the ideas of people in the past and the present. Transcendentalism falls in amongst all of these ideas. There have been articles, essays, poems, and even books written about this subject. Transcendentalism has effected many people since the philosophy was first introduced. The idea was complex and hard to grasp for many commoners and therefore it was understood by few people, and some would think that the idea was not understood at all and that was part of the idea.... [tags: essays research papers fc]
1611 words (4.6 pages)