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THE NEW REGIONALISM - Лекция, раздел Лингвистика, Курс лекций по предмету романо-германская филология T Here Is Nothing New About A Regional Tradition In Amer...

T here is nothing new about a regional tradition in American literature. It is as old as the Native American legends, as evocative as the works of James Fenimore Cooper and Bret Harte, as resonant as the novels of William Faulkner and the plays of Tennessee Williams. For a time, though, during the post-World War II era, tradition seemed to disappear into the shadows -- unless one considers, perhaps correctly, that urban fiction is a form of regionalism. Nonetheless, for the past decade or so, regionalism has been making a triumphant return in American literature, enabling readers to get a sense of place as well as a sense of time and humanity. And it is as prevalent in popular fiction, such as detective stories, as it is in classic literature -- novels, short stories, and drama.

There are several possible reasons for this occurrence. For one thing, all of the arts in America have been decentralized over the past generation. Theater, music, and dance are as likely to thrive in cities in the U.S. South, Southwest, and Northwest as in major cities such as New York and Chicago. Movie companies shoot films across the United States, on myriad locations. So it is with literature. Smaller publishing houses that concentrate on fiction thrive outside of New York City's "publishers row." Writers workshops and conferences are more in vogue than ever, as are literature courses on college campuses across the country. It is no wonder that budding talents can surface anywhere. All one needs is a pencil, paper, and a vision.

The most refreshing aspects of the new regionalism are its expanse and its diversity. It canvasses America, from East to West. A transcontinental literary tour begins in the Northeast, in Albany, New York, the focus of interest of its native son, one-time journalist William Kennedy. Kennedy, whose Albany novels -- among them Ironweed (1983) and Very Old Bones (1992) -- capture elegaically and often raucously the lives of the denizens of the streets and saloons of the New York State capital city.

Prolific novelist, story writer, poet, and essayist Joyce Carol Oates also hails from the northeastern United States. In her haunting works, obsessed characters' attempts to achieve fulfillment within their grotesque environments lead them into destruction. Some of her finest works are stories in collections such as The Wheel of Love (1970) and Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? (1974). Stephen King, the best-selling master of horror fiction, generally sets his suspenseful page-turners in Maine -- within the same region.

Down the coast, in the environs of Baltimore, Maryland, Anne Tyler presents, in spare, quiet language, extraordinary lives and striking characters. Novels such as Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), The Accidental Tourist (1985), Breathing Lessons (1988), and Saint Maybe (1991) have helped boost her reputation in literary circles and among mass audiences.

A short distance from Baltimore is America's capital, Washington, which has its own literary tradition, if a shrouded one, in a city whose chief preoccupation is politics. Among the more lucid portrayers of life in and on the fringe of government and power is novelist Ward Just, a former international correspondent who assumed a second career writing about the world he knows best -- the world of journalists, politicians, diplomats, and soldiers. Just's Nicholson at Large (1975), a study of a Washington newsman during and after the John F. Kennedy presidency of the early 1960s; In the City of Fear (1982), a glimpse of Washington during the Vietnam era; and Jack Gance (1989), a sobering look at a Chicago politician and his rise to the U.S. Senate, are some of his more impressive works. Susan Richards Shreve's Children of Power (1979) assesses the private lives of a group of sons and daughters of government officials, while popular novelist Tom Clancy, a Maryland resident, has used the Washington politico-military landscape as the launching pad for his series of epic suspense tales.

Moving southward, Reynolds Price and Jill McCorkle come into view. Price, Tyler's mentor, was once described during the 1970s by a critic as being in the obsolescent post of "southern-writer- in-residence." He first came to attention with his novel A Long and Happy Life (1962), dealing with the people and the land of eastern North Carolina, and specifically with a young woman named Rosacoke Mustian. He continued writing tales of this heroine over the ensuing years, then shifted his locus to other themes before focusing again on a woman in his acclaimed work, Kate Vaiden (1986), his only novel written in the first person. Price's latest novel, Blue Calhoun (1992),examines the impact of a passionate but doomed love affair over the decades of family life.

McCorkle, born in 1958 and thus representing a new generation, has dev oted her novels and short stories -- set in the small towns of North Carolina -- to exploring the mystiques of teenagers (The Cheer Leader, 1984), the links between generations (Tending to Virginia, 1987), and the particular sensibilities of contemporary suthern women (Crash Diet, 1992).

In the same region is Pat Conroy, whose bracing autobiographical novels about his South Carolina upbringing and his abusive, tyrannical father (The Great Santini, 1976; The Prince of Tides, 1986) are infused with a sense of the natural beauty of the South Carolina low country. Shelby Foote, a Mississippi native who has lived in Memphis, Tennessee, for years, is an old-time chronicler of the South whose histories and fictions led to his role on camera in a successful public television series on the U.S. Civil War.

America's heartland reveals a wealth of writing talent. Among them are Jane Smiley, who teaches writing at the University of Iowa. Smiley won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in fiction for A Thousand Acres (1991), which transplanted Shakespeare's King Lear to a midwestern U.S. farm and chronicled the bitter family feud unleashed when an aging farmer decides to turn over his land to his three daughters.

Texas chronicler Larry McMurtry covers his native state in varying time periods and sensibilities, from the vanished 19th- century West (Lonesome Dove, 1985; Anything For Billy, 1988) to the vanishing small towns of the postwar era (The Last Picture Show, 1966).

Cormac McCarthy, whose explorations of the American Southwest desert limn his novels Blood Meridian (1985), All The Pretty Horses (1992), and The Crossing (1994), is a reclusive, immensely imaginative writer who is just beginning to get his due on the U.S. literary scene. Generally considered the rightful heir to the southern Gothic tradition, McCarthy is as intrigued by the wildness of the terrain as he is by human wildness and unpredictability.

Set in the striking landscape of her native New Mexico, Native American novelist Leslie Marmon Silko's critically esteemed novel Ceremony (1977) has gained a large general audience. Like N. Scott Momaday's poetic The Way to Rainy Mountain (1969), it is a "chant novel" structured on Native American healing rituals. Silko's novel The Almanac of the Dead (1991) offers a panorama of the Southwest, from ancient tribal migrations to present-day drug runners and corrupt real estate developers reaping profits by misusing the land. Best-selling detective writer Tony Hillerman, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, covers the same southwestern U.S. territory, featuring two modest, hardworking Navajo policemen as his protagonists.

To the north, in Montana, poet James Welch details the struggles of Native Americans to wrest meaning from harsh reservation life beset by poverty and alcoholism in his slender, nearly flawless novels Winter in the Blood (1974), The Death of Jim Loney (1979), Fools Crow (1986), and The Indian Lawyer (1990). Another Montanan is Thomas McGuane, whose unfailingly masculine-focused novels -- including Ninety-Two in the Shade (1973) and Keep the Change (1989) -- evince a dream of roots amidst rootlessness. Louise Erdrich, who is part Chippewa Indian, has set a powerful series of novels in neighboring North Dakota. In works such as Love Medicine (1984), she captures the tangled lives of dysfunctional reservation families with a poignant blend of stoicism and humor.

Two writers have exemplified the Far West for some time. One of these is the late Wallace Stegner, who was born in the Midwest in 1909 and died in an automobile accident in 1993. Stegner spent the bulk of his life in various locales in the West and had a regional outlook even before it became the vogue. His first major work, The Big Rock Candy Mountain (1943), chronicles a family caught up in the American dream in its western guise as the frontier disappeared. It ranges across America, from Minnesota to Washington State, and concerns, as Stegner put it, "that place of impossible loveliness that pulled the whole nation westward." His 1971 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Angle of Repose, is also imbued with the spirit of place in its portrait of a woman illustrator and writer of the Old West. Indeed, Stegner's strength as a writer was in characterization, as well as in evoking the ruggedness of western life.

Joan Didion -- who is as much journalist as novelist and whose mind's eye has traveled far afield in recent years -- put contemporary California on the map in her 1968 volume of nonfiction pieces, Slouching Toward Bethlehem, and in her incisive, shocking novel about the aimlessness of the Hollywood scene, Play It As It Lays (1970).

The Pacific Northwest -- one of the more fertile artistic regions across the cultural landscape at the outset of the 1990s -- produced, among others, Raymond Carver, a marvelous writer of short fiction. Carver died tragically in 1988 at the age of 50, not long after coming into his own on the literary scene. In mirroring the working-class mindset of the inhabitants of his region in collections such as What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1974) and Where I'm Calling From (1986), he placed them against the backdrop of their scenic surroundings, still largely unspoiled.

The success of the regional theater movement -- nonprofit institutional companies that have become havens of contemporary culture in city after city across America -- since the early 1960s most notably has nurtured young dramatists who have become some of the more luminous imagists on the theatrical scene. One wonders what American theater and literature would be like today without the coruscating, fragmented society and tempestuous relationships of Sam Shepard (Buried Child, 1979; A Lie of the Mind, 1985); the amoral characters and shell-shocking staccato dialogue of Chicago's David Mamet (American Buffalo, 1976; Glengarry Glen Ross, 1982); the intrusion of traditional values into midwestern lives and concerns reflected by Lanford Wilson (5th of July, 1978; Talley's Folly, 1979); and the Southern eccentricities of Beth Henley (Crimes of the Heart, 1979).

American literature has traversed an extended, winding path from pre-colonial days to contemporary times. Society, history, technology all have had telling impact on it. Ultimately, though, there is a constant -- humanity, with all its radiance and its malevolence, its tradition and its promise.



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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

Had history taken a different turn, the United States easily could have been a part of the great Spanish or French overseas empires. Its present inhabitants might speak Spanish

It is likely that no other colonists in the history of the world were as intellectual as the Puritans. Between 1630 and 1690, there were as many university graduates in the nor

Pre-revolutionary southern literature was aristocratic and secular, reflecting the dominant social and economic systems of the southern plantations. Early English immigrants were drawn to th

Democratic Origins and Revolutionary Writers, 1776-1820
  The hard-fought American Revolution against Britain (1775-1783) was the first modern war of liberation against a colonial power. The triumph of American indepen

The 18th-century American Enlightenment was a movement marked by an emphasis on rationality rather than tradition, scientific inquiry instead of unquestioning religious dogma,

Unfortunately, "literary" writing was not as simple and direct as political writing. When trying to write poetry, most educated authors stumbled into the pitfall of e

The first important fiction writers widely recognized today, Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, and James Fenimore Cooper, used American subjects, historical perspectiv

Although the colonial period produced several women writers of note, the revolutionary era did not further the work of women and minorities, despite the many schools, magazines

Other Women Writers
A number of accomplished revolutionary-era women writers have been rediscovered by feminist scholars. Susanna Rowson (c. 1762- 1824) was one of America's first professional novelists. Her seven nov

The Romantic Period, 1820-1860: Essayists and Poets
  The Romantic movement, which originated in Germany but quickly spread to England, France, and beyond, reached America around the year 1820, some 20 years after

The Transcendentalist movement was a reaction against 18th century rationalism and a manifestation of the general humanitarian trend of 19th century thought. The movement was b

In their time, the Boston Brahmins (as the patrician, Harvard-educated class came to be called) supplied the most respected and genuinely cultivated literary arbiters of the Un

New England sparkled with intellectual energy in the years before the Civil War. Some of the stars that shine more brightly today than the famous constellation of Brahmins were

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

T he Romance form is dark and forbidding, indicating how difficult it is to create an identity without a stable society. Most of the Romantic heroes die in the end: All the sai

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
  T he U.S. Civil War (1861-1865) between the industrial North and the agricultural, slave-owning South was a watershed in American history. The innocent optimism

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

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

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

Henry James (1843-1916) Henry James once wrote that art, especially literary art, "makes life, makes interest, makes importance." James's fiction and criticism i

W harton's and James's dissections of hidden sexual and financial motivations at work in society link them with writers who seem superficially quite different: Stephen Crane, J

T hree Midwestern poets who grew up in Illinois and shared the midwestern concern with ordinary people are Carl Sandburg, Vachel Lindsay, and Edgar Lee Masters. Their poetry of

N ovelists Ellen Glasgow (1873-1945) and Willa Cather (1873-1947) explored women's lives, placed in brilliantly evoked regional settings. Neit

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
  M any historians have characterized the period between t

T he large cultural wave of Modernism, which gradually emerged in Europe and the United States in the early years of the 20th century, expressed a sense of modern life through

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

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

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

S ince the 1890s, an undercurrent of social protest had coursed through American literature, welling up in the naturalism of Stephen Crane and Theodore Dreiser and in the clear

D uring the exuberant 1920s, Harlem, the black community situated uptown in New York City, sparkled with passion and creativity. The sounds of its black American jazz swept the

F rom the Civil War into the 20th century, the southern United States had remained a political and economic backwater ridden with racism and superstition, but, at the same time

A merican drama imitated English and European theater until well into the 20th century. Often, plays from England or translated from European languages dominated theater season

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

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. Oft

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

T he force behind Lowell's mature achievement and much of contemporary poetry lies in the experimentation begun in the 1950s by a number of poets. They may be divided into five

The Black Mountain School
The Black Mountain School centered around Black Mountain College an experimental liberal arts college in Asheville, North Carolina, where poets Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, and Robert Creeley taug

The San Francisco School
The work of the San Francisco School -- which includes most West Coast poetry in general -- owes much to Eastern philosophy and religion, as well as to Japanese and Chinese poetry. This is not surp

Beat Poets
The San Franciso School blends into the next grouping -- the "Beat" poets, who emerged in the 1950s. Most of the important Beats (beatniks) migrated to San Francisco from the East Coast,

The New York School
Unlike the Beat and San Franciso poets, the poets of the New York School are not interested in overtly moral questions, and, in general, they steer clear of political issues. They have the best for

Surrealism and Existentialism
In his anthology defining the new schools, Donald Allen includes a fifth group he cannot define because it has no clear geographical underpinning. This vague group includes recent movements and exp

W omen's literature, like minority literature and surrealism, first became aware of itself as a driving force in American life during the late 1960s. It flourished in the femin

Chicano/Hispanic/Latino Poetry
Spanish-influenced poetry encompasses works by many diverse groups. Among these are Mexican-Americans, known since the 1950s as Chicanos, who have lived for many generations in the southwestern U.S

Native American Poetry
Native Americans have written fine poetry, most likely because a tradition of shamanistic song plays a vital role in their cultural heritage. Their work excels in vivid, living evocations of the na

African-American Poetry
Contemporary black Americans have produced many poems of great beauty and considerable range of themes and tones. It is the most developed ethnic writing in America and is extremely diverse. Amiri

R ecent directions in American poetry include the "language poets" loosely associated with Temblor magazine. Among them are Bruce Andrews, Lyn Hejinian, Dougla

American Prose Since 1945: Realism and Experimentation
  N arrative since World War II resists generalization: It is extremely various and multifaceted. It has been vitalized by international currents such as European

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

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

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

B y the mid-1970s, an era of consolidation began. The Vietnam conflict was over, followed soon afterward by U.S. recognition of the People's Republic of China and America's Bic

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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