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TRADITIONALISM

TRADITIONALISM - Лекция, раздел Лингвистика, Курс лекций по предмету романо-германская филология T Raditional Writers Include Acknowledged Masters Of Tra...

T raditional writers include acknowledged masters of traditional forms and diction who write with a readily recognizable craft, often using rhyme or a set metrical pattern. Often they are from the U.S. Eastern seaboard or from the southern part of the country, and teach in colleges and universities. Richard Eberhart and Richard Wilbur; the older Fugitive poets John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Robert Penn Warren; such accomplished younger poets as John Hollander and Richard Howard; and the early Robert Lowell are examples. They are established and frequently anthologized.

The previous chapter discussed the refinement, respect for nature, and profoundly conservative values of the Fugitives. These qualities grace much poetry oriented to traditional modes. Traditionalist poets are generally precise, realistic, and witty; like Richard Wilbur (1921- ), they are often influenced in these directions by 15th- and 16th-century British metaphysical poets brought to favor by T.S. Eliot. Wilbur's most famous poem, "A World Without Objects Is a Sensible Emptiness" (1950), takes its title from Thomas Traherne, a metaphysical poet. Its vivid opening illustrates the clarity some poets have found within rhyme and formal regularity:

The tall camels of the spirit

Steer for their deserts, passing the last groves loud

With the sawmill shrill of the locust, to the whole honey

of the arid

Sun. They are slow, proud...

Traditional poets, unlike many experimentalists who distrust "too poetic" diction, welcome resounding poetic lines. Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989) ended one poem with the words "To love so well the world that we may believe, in the end, in God." Allen Tate (1899-1979) ended a poem, "Sentinel of the grave who counts us all!" Traditional poets also at times use a somewhat rhetorical diction of obsolete or odd words, using many adjectives (for example, "sepulchral owl") and inversions, in which the natural, spoken word order of English is altered unnaturally. Sometimes the effect is noble, as in the line by Warren; other times, the poetry seems stilted and out of touch with real emotions, as in Tate's line: "Fatuously touched the hems of the hierophants."

Occasionally, as in Hollander, Howard, and James Merrill (1926- ), self-conscious diction combines with wit, puns, and literary allusions. Merrill, who is innovative in his urban themes, unrhymed lines, personal subjects, and light conversational tone, shares a witty habit with the traditionalists in "The Broken Heart" (1966), writing about a marriage as if it were a cocktail:

Always that same old story -
Father Time and Mother Earth,
A marriage on the rocks.

Obvious fluency and verbal pyrotechnics by some poets, like Merrill and John Ashbery, make them successful in traditional terms, although their poetry redefines poetry in radically innovative ways. Stylistic gracefulness makes some poets seem more traditional than they are, as in the case of Randall Jarrell (1914-1965) and A.R. Ammons (1926- ). Ammons creates intense dialogues between humanity and nature; Jarrell steps into the trapped consciousness of the dispossessed -- women, children, doomed soldiers, as in "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" (1945):

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

Although many traditional poets use rhyme, not all rhymed poetry is traditional in subject or tone. Poet Gwendolyn Brooks (1917- ) writes of the difficulties of living -- let alone writing -- in urban slums. Her "Kitchenette Building" (1945) asks how:

Could a dream send up through onion fumes
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes
And yesterday's garbage ripening in the hall...

Many poets, including Brooks, Adrienne Rich, Richard Wilbur, Robert Lowell, and Robert Penn Warren began writing traditionally, using rhyme and meters, but abandoned these in the 1960s under the pressure of public events and a gradual trend toward open forms.

Robert Lowell (1917-1977)

The most influential recent poet, Robert Lowell, began traditionally but was influenced by experimental currents. Because his life and work spans the period between the older modernist masters like Ezra Pound and the contemporary writers, his career places the later experimentalists in a larger context.

Lowell fits the mold of the academic writer: white, male, Protestant by birth, well-educated, and linked with the political and social establishment. He was a descendant of the respected Boston Brahmin family that included the famous 19th-century poet James Russell Lowell and a recent president of Harvard University. Robert Lowell found an identity outside his elite background, however. He went not to Harvard but to Kenyon College in Ohio, where he rejected his Puritan ancestry and converted to Catholicism. Jailed for a year as a conscientious objector in World War II, he later publicly protested the Vietnam conflict.

Lowell's early books, Land of Unlikeness (1944) and Lord Weary's Castle (1946), which won a Pulitzer Prize, revealed great control of traditional forms and styles, strong feeling, and an intensely personal yet historical vision. The violence and specificity of the early work is overpowering in poems like "Children of Light" (1946), a harsh condemnation of the Puritans who killed Indians and whose descendants burned surplus grain instead of shipping it to hungry people. Lowell writes: "Our fathers wrung their bread from stocks and stones / And fenced their gardens with the Redman's bones."

Lowell's next book, The Mills of the Kavanaughs (1951), contains moving dramatic monologues in which members of his family reveal their tenderness and failings. As always, his style mixes the human with the majestic. Often he uses traditional rhyme, but his colloquialism disguises it until it seems like background melody. It was experimental poetry, however, that gave Lowell his breakthrough into a creative individual idiom.

On a reading tour in the mid-1950s, Lowell heard some of the new experimental poetry for the first time. Allen Ginsberg's Howl and Gary Snyder's Myths and Texts, still unpublished, were being read and chanted, sometimes to jazz accompaniment, in coffee houses in North Beach, a section of San Francisco. Lowell felt that next to these, his own accomplished poems were too stilted, rhetorical, and encased in convention; when reading them aloud, he made spontaneous revisions toward a more colloquial diction. "My own poems seemed like prehistoric monsters dragged down into a bog and death by their ponderous armor," he wrote later. "I was reciting what I no longer felt."

At this point Lowell, like many poets after him, accepted the challenge of learning from the rival tradition in America -- the school of William Carlos Williams. "It's as if no poet except Williams had really seen America or heard its language," he wrote in 1962. Henceforth, Lowell changed his writing drastically, using the "quick changes of tone, atmosphere and speed" that Lowell most appreciated in Williams.

Lowell dropped many of his obscure allusions; his rhymes became integral to the experience within the poem instead of superimposed on it. The stanzaic structure, too, collapsed; new improvisational forms arose. In Life Studies (1959), he initiated confessional poetry, a new mode in which he bared his most tormenting personal problems with great honesty and intensity. In essence, he not only discovered his individuality but celebrated it in its most difficult and private manifestations. He transformed himself into a contemporary, at home with the self, the fragmentary, and the form as process.

Lowell's transformation, a watershed for poetry after the war, opened the way for many younger writers. In For the Union Dead (1964), Notebook 1967-69 (1970), and later books, he continued his autobiographical explorations and technical innovations, drawing upon his experience of psychoanalysis. Lowell's confessional poetry has been particularly influential. Works by John Berryman, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath (the last two his students), to mention only a few, are impossible to imagine without Lowell.

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Early American and Colonial Period to 1776
  American literature begins with the orally transmitted myths, legends, tales, and lyrics (always songs) of Indian cultures. There was no written literature amon

THE LITERATURE OF EXPLORATION
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THE COLONIAL PERIOD IN NEW ENGLAND
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LITERATURE IN THE SOUTHERN AND MIDDLE COLONIES
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Democratic Origins and Revolutionary Writers, 1776-1820
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THE AMERICAN ENLIGHTENMENT
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WRITERS OF FICTION
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WOMEN AND MINORITIES
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Other Women Writers
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The Romantic Period, 1820-1860: Essayists and Poets
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TRANSCENDENTALISM
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THE BRAHMIN POETS
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TWO REFORMERS
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The Romantic Period, 1820-1860: Fiction
  W alt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, and the Transcendentalists represent the first great literary generation

THE ROMANCE
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WOMEN WRITERS AND REFORMERS
American women endured many inequalities in the 19th century: They were denied the vote, barred from professional schools and most higher education, forbidden to speak in publi

The Rise of Realism: 1860-1914
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FRONTIER HUMOR AND REALISM
T wo major literary currents in 19th-century America merged in Mark Twain: popular frontier humor and local color, or "regionalism." These related literary approaches

LOCAL COLORISTS
L ike frontier humor, local color writing has old roots but produced its best works long after the Civil War. Obviously, many pre-war writers, from Henry David Thoreau and Nath

MIDWESTERN REALISM
F or many years, the editor of the important Atlantic Monthly magazine, William Dean Howells (1837-1920), published realistic local color writing by Bret Harte, Mark Twa

COSMOPOLITAN NOVELISTS
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THE "CHICAGO SCHOOL" OF POETRY
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TWO WOMEN REGIONAL NOVELISTS
N ovelists Ellen Glasgow (1873-1945) and Willa Cather (1873-1947) explored women's lives, placed in brilliantly evoked regional settings. Neit

THE RISE OF BLACK AMERICAN LITERATURE
T he literary achievement of African-Americans was one of the most striking literary developments of the post-Civil War era. In the writings of Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du

Modernism and Experimentation: 1914-1945
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POETRY 1914-1945: EXPERIMENTS IN FORM
Ezra Pound (1885-1972) Ezra Pound was one of the most influential American poets of this century. From 1908 to 1920, he resided in London, where he associated with many wr

BETWEEN THE WARS
Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) Numerous American poets of stature and genuine vision arose in the years between the world wars, among them poets from the West Coast, women, and

PROSE WRITING, 1914-1945: AMERICAN REALISM
A lthough American prose between the wars experimented with viewpoint and form, Americans wrote more realistically, on the whole, than did Europeans. Novelist Ernest Hemingway

NOVELS OF SOCIAL AWARENESS
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TH-CENTURY AMERICAN DRAMA
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American Poetry Since 1945: The Anti-Tradition
  A shift away from an assumption that traditional forms, ideas, and history can provide meaning and continuity to human life has occurred in the contemporary lit

IDIOSYNCRATIC POETS
P oets who have developed unique styles drawing on tradition but extending it into new realms with a distinctively contemporary flavor, in addition to Plath and Sexton, include

EXPERIMENTAL POETRY
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The Black Mountain School
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The New York School
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Chicano/Hispanic/Latino Poetry
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Native American Poetry
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African-American Poetry
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NEW DIRECTIONS
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American Prose Since 1945: Realism and Experimentation
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THE REALIST LEGACY AND THE LATE 1940s
A s in the first half of the 20th century, fiction in the second half reflects the character of each decade. The late 1940s saw the aftermath of World War II and the beginning

THE AFFLUENT BUT ALIENATED 1950s
T he 1950s saw the delayed impact of modernization and technology in everyday life, left over from the 1920s -- before the Great Depression. World War II brought the United Sta

THE TURBULENT BUT CREATIVE 1960s
T he alienation and stress underlying the 1950s found outward expression in the 1960s in the United States in the Civil Rights Movement, feminism, antiwar protests, minority ac

THE 1970s AND 1980s: NEW DIRECTIONS
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List of Books on American Literature
1. W. Irving. Rip van Winkle 2. E.A. Poe.The Fall of the House of Usher 3. M. Twain.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Exam questions on American literature
1. Early American and colonial period. 2. Revolutionary literature. The American Enlightenment. 3. The creative work of W. Irving. 4. The creative work of J. F. Cooper.

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