Literature in New England (42916)

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The English and Literature Department

______________’s qualification work on speciality 5220100, English philology on the theme:

Literature in New England”

Supervisor: ___________

Gulistan 2008


I. Introduction

1.1. The English in Virginia

II. Main part

2.1. Pilgrims and puritans in new England: historical and descriptive writers

2.1.1. The Pilgrims

2.1.2. The plymouth colony

2.1.3. Puritan Colonies in New England

2.3. The new England clergy: Theology in New England

2.2.1. The Clergy

2.3. Puritan poetry in new England

2.3.1. Early Puritan Poetry

2.3.2. The Bay Psalm Book

2.4. The first half of the century, the personal touch

2.5. The revolutionary period

2.6. Poetry of the revolution

2.6.1. The close of eighteen century. Transition

2.6.2. The new literature

2.7. Writers of new York and Pennsylvania

2.7.1. Novelists and humorists

2.7.2. Poetry, South and North

2.7.3. Scholars and essayists

III. Conclusion

IV. Bibliography

I. Introduction

During its early history, America was a series of British colonies on the eastern coast of the present-day United States. Therefore, its literary tradition begins as linked to the broader tradition of English literature. The problem is that unique American characteristics and the breadth of its production usually now cause it to be considered a separate path and tradition.And the aim of the work is to search deeply each step of these periods.

1.1 The English in Virginia: Captain John Smith, William Strachey, George Sandy

The story of a nation's literature ordinarily has its beginning far back in the remoter history of that nation, obscured by the uncertainties of an age of which no trustworthy records have been preserved. The earliest writings of a people are usually the first efforts at literary production of a race in its childhood; and as these compositions develop they record the intellectual and artistic growth of the race. The conditions which attended the development of literature in America, therefore, are peculiar. At the very time when Sir Walter Raleigh -- a type of the great and splendid men of action who made such glorious history for England in the days of Elizabeth -- was organizing the first futile efforts to colonize the new world, English Literature, which is the joint possession of the whole English-speaking race, was rapidly developing. Sir Philip Sidney had written his Arcadia, first of the great prose romances, and enriched English poetry with his sonnets; Edmund Spenser had composed The Shepherd's Calendar; Christopher Marlowe had established the drama upon heroic lines; and Shakespeare had just entered on the first flights of his fancy. When, in 1606, King James granted to a company of London merchants the first charter of Virginia, Sidney and Spenser and Marlowe were dead, Shakespeare had produced some of his greatest plays, the name of Ben Jonson, along with other notable names, had been added to the list of our great dramatists, and the philosopher, Francis Bacon, had published the first of his essays. These are the familiar names which represent the climax of literary achievement in the Elizabethan age; and this brilliant epoch had reached its full height when the first permanent English settlement in America was made at Jamestown in 1607. On New Year's day, the little fleet commanded by Captain Newport sailed forth on its venturesome and romantic enterprise, the significance of which was not altogether unsuspected by those who saw it depart. Michael Drayton, one of the most popular poets of his day, later poet laureate of the kingdom, sang in quaint, prophetic verses a cheery farewell: --

"You brave heroic minds,

Worthy your country's name,

That honor still pursue,

Go and subdue,

Whilst loitering hinds

Lurk here at home with shame.

"And in regions farre,

Such heroes bring ye forth

As those from whom we came;

And plant our name

Under that star

Not known unto our north.

"And as there plenty grows

Of laurel everywhere,

Apollo's sacred tree,

You it may see,A poet's brows

To crown, that may sing there."1

The Virginia Colony.

This little band of adventurers "in regions farre" disembarked from the ships Discovery, Good Speed, and Susan Constant upon the site of a town yet to be built, fifty miles inland, on the shore of a stream as yet unexplored, in the heart of a vast green wilderness the home of savage tribes who were none too friendly. It was hardly to be expected that the ripe seeds of literary culture should be found in such a company, or should germinate under such conditions in any notable luxuriance. The surprising fact, however, is that in this group of gentlemen adventurers there was one man of some literary craft, who, while leading the most strenuous life of all, efficiently protecting and heartening his less courageous comrades in all manner of perilous experiences, compiled and wrote with much literary skill the picturesque chronicles of the settlement.

John Smith, 1580-1631.

Captain John Smith, the mainstay of the Jamestown colony in the critical period of its early existence, was a true soldier of fortune, venturesome, resolute, self-reliant, resourceful; withal a man of great good sense, and with the grasp on circumstances which belongs to the man of power. His life since leaving his home on a Lincolnshire farm at sixteen years of age, had been replete with romantic adventure. He had been a soldier in the French army and had served in that of Holland. He had wandered through Italy and Greece into the countries of eastern Europe, and had lived for a year in Turkey and Tartary.

II. Main part

2.1 Pilgrims and puritans in new England: historical and descriptive writers

In the northern settlements, conditions socially and intellectually were very different from those existing in the South. The men who colonized New England represented a unique type; their ideals, their purpose, were essentially other than those which inspired the settlers at Jamestown and the later colonizers of Virginia. The band of Pilgrims who landed from the Mayflower at Plymouth in December, 1620, were not bent on mere commercial adventure, lured to the shores of the New World by tales of its fabulous wealth. They were not in search of gold; they were looking for a permanent home, and had brought their wives and children with them. Their ideals were of the most serious sort; their deep religious feeling colored all their plans and habits of life.

2.1.1 The Pilgrims

The Pilgrims were a congregation of l"Separatists" or non-conformists who had already endured hardness for conscience' sake before they had ever left the old home. Under the leadership of the Rev. John Robinson and Elder William Brewster, they had fled to Holland in 1608. For ten years, this community of Englishmen had lived peacefully in the Dutch city of Leyden, earning their own living and enjoying the religious liberty they craved; but they felt themselves aliens in a foreign land, and saw that their children were destined to lose their English birthright. After long deliberation, they determined "as pilgrims" to seek in the new continent a home where they might still possess their cherished freedom of worship, while living under English laws and following the customs and traditions of their mother-land.

2.1.2 The plymouth colony

This company of men obtained a grant from the London Company under the sane charter as that which had been given to the Virginia Colony. They finally set sail from Plymouth, in England, September 16, 1620. It was in the early winter when the Mayflower sighted the shores of Cape Cod. The story of "New England's trails," first told in the narrative of Captain John Smith,2 is as romantic as that of the Jamestown Colony and even more impressive.

Of the forty-one adult males who signed the famous compact on board the Mayflower, only twelve bore the title of "Gentlemen." They were a sober-minded, sturdy band of true colonizers, familiar with labor and inspired with the conviction that God was leading them in their difficult way. Although half the colony perished in the rigor of that first winter, for which they had been wholly unprepared, the spirit of the Pilgrims spoke in the remarkable words of their leader, Brewster: --

"It is not with us as with men whom small things can discourage or small discontentments cause to wish themselves at home again." 2

2.1.3 Puritan Colonies in New England

The companies of settlers who followed the Pilgrims within the next few years were composed of the same sturdy, independent class of thoughtful, high-minded men. They were Puritans, -- for the most part well-to-do, prosperous people; many of them had been educated in the universities, and brought the reverence for education with them. "If God make thee a good Christian and a good scholar, thou hast all that thy mother ever asked for thee," said a Puritan matron to her son. The colonists who within the next fifty years dotted the New England coast-line with their thrifty settlements were idealists. As Professor Tyler puts it, they established "not an agricultural community, nor a manufacturing community, nor a trading community; it was a thinking community." Moral earnestness characterized every action. In 1636, the General Court of Massachusetts voted to establish a college at Newtown; John Harvard, dying two years later, bequeathed his library and half his estate to the school, which was then named

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