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Realism, Twain and James




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Mark Twain (the pen name used by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835–1910) was the first major American writer to be born away from the East Coast – in the border state of Missouri. His regional masterpieces were the memoir Life on the Mississippiand the novels Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Twain's style – influenced by journalism, wedded to the vernacular, direct and unadorned but also highly evocative and irreverently humorous – changed the way Americans write their language. His characters speak like real people and sound distinctively American, using local dialects, newly invented words, and regional accents.

Other writers interested in regional differences and dialect were George W. Cable, Thomas Nelson Page, Joel Chandler Harris, Mary Noailles Murfree (Charles Egbert Craddock), Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Henry Cuyler Bunner, and William Sydney Porter (O. Henry). A version of local color regionalism that focused on minority experiences can be seen in the works of Charles W. Chesnutt (African American), of María Ruiz de Burton, one of the earliest Mexican American novelists to write in English, and in the Yiddish-inflected works of Abraham Cahan.

William Dean Howells also represented the realist tradition through his novels, including The Rise of Silas Lapham and his work as editor of the Atlantic Monthly.

Henry James (1843–1916) confronted the Old World-New World dilemma by writing directly about it. Although born in New York City, he spent most of his adult years in England. Many of his novels center on Americans who live in or travel to Europe. With its intricate, highly qualified sentences and dissection of emotional and psychological nuance, James's fiction can be daunting. Among his more accessible works are the novellas Daisy Miller, about an enchanting American girl in Europe, and The Turn of the Screw, an enigmatic ghost story.

Realism also influenced American drama of the period, in part through the works of Howells but also through the works of such Europeans as Ibsen and Zola. Although realism was most influential in terms of set design and staging—audiences loved the special effects offered up by the popular melodramas—and in the growth of local color plays, it also showed up in the more subdued, less romantic tone that reflected the effects of the Civil War and continued social turmoil on the American psyche.



The most ambitious attempt at bringing modern realism into the drama was James Herne's Margaret Fleming, which addressed issues of social determinism through realistic dialogue, psychological insight and symbolism; the play was not a success, as critics and audiences alike felt it dwelt too much on unseemly topics and included improper scenes, such as the main character nursing her husband's illegitimate child onstage.

Beginning of the 20th century[edit]

 

At the beginning of the 20th century, American novelists were expanding fiction's social spectrum to encompass both high and low life and sometimes connected to the naturalist school of realism. In her stories and novels, Edith Wharton (1862–1937) scrutinized the upper-class, Eastern-seaboard society in which she had grown up. One of her finest books, The Age of Innocence, centers on a man who chooses to marry a conventional, socially acceptable woman rather than a fascinating outsider.

At about the same time, Stephen Crane (1871–1900), best known for his Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage, depicted the life of New York City prostitutes in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets. And in Sister Carrie, Theodore Dreiser (1871–1945) portrayed a country girl who moves to Chicago and becomes a kept woman. Hamlin Garland and Frank Norris wrote about the problems of American farmers and other social issues from a naturalist perspective.

More directly political writings discussed social issues and power of corporations. Some like Edward Bellamy in Looking Backward outlined other possible political and social frameworks. Upton Sinclair, most famous for his muck-raking novel The Jungle, advocated socialism. Other political writers of the period included Edwin Markham, William Vaughn Moody. Journalistic critics, including Ida M. Tarbell and Lincoln Steffens were labeled The Muckrakers. Henry Brooks Adams' literate autobiography,The Education of Henry Adams also depicted a stinging description of the education system and modern life.

Race was a common issue as well, as seen in the work of Pauline Hopkins, an African-American woman who published five influential works from 1900 to 1903 discussing racial and sexual inequalities. Similarly, Sui Sin Far wrote about Chinese-American experiences, Maria Cristina Mena wrote about Mexican-American experiences, and Zitkala-Sa wrote about Native American experiences.

Experimentation in style and form soon joined the new freedom in subject matter. In 1909, Gertrude Stein (1874–1946), by then an expatriate in Paris, publishedThree Lives, an innovative work of fiction influenced by her familiarity with cubism, jazz, and other movements in contemporary art and music. Stein labeled a group of American literary notables who lived in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s as the "Lost Generation".

The poet Ezra Pound (1885–1972) was born in Idaho but spent much of his adult life in Europe. His work is complex, sometimes obscure, with multiple references to other art forms and to a vast range of literature, both Western and Eastern. He influenced many other poets, notably T. S. Eliot (1888–1965), another expatriate. Eliot wrote spare, cerebral poetry, carried by a dense structure of symbols. In The Waste Land, he embodied a jaundiced vision of post–World War I society in fragmented, haunted images. Like Pound's, Eliot's poetry could be highly allusive, and some editions of The Waste Land come with footnotes supplied by the poet. In 1948, Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Stein, Pound and Eliot, along with Henry James before them, demonstrate the growth of an international perspective in American literature, and not simply because they spend long periods of time overseas. American writers had long looked to European models for inspiration, but whereas the literary breakthroughs of the mid-19th century came from finding distinctly American styles and themes, writers from this period were finding ways of contributing to a flourishing international literary scene, not as imitators but as equals. Something similar was happening back in the States, as Jewish writers (such as Abraham Cahan) used the English language to reach an international Jewish audience. And a small group of Arab American writers known as the Al-Rabitah al-Qalamiyah (a.k.a. the "New York Pen League") and under the leadership of Khalil Gibran, were absorbing modernist European influences and thereby introduced innovative forms and themes into Arabic-language literature.

American writers also expressed the disillusionment following upon the war. The stories and novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) capture the restless, pleasure-hungry, defiant mood of the 1920s. Fitzgerald's characteristic theme, expressed poignantly in The Great Gatsby, is the tendency of youth's golden dreams to dissolve in failure and disappointment. Fitzgerald also elucidates the collapse of some key American Ideals, set out in the Declaration of Independence, such as liberty, social unity, good governance and peace, features which were severely threatened by the pressures of modern early 20th century society. Sinclair Lewis andSherwood Anderson also wrote novels with critical depictions of American life. John Dos Passos wrote about the war and also the U.S.A. trilogy which extended into the Depression.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, photographed by Carl van Vechten, 1937.

Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961) saw violence and death first-hand as an ambulance driver in World War I, and the carnage persuaded him that abstract language was mostly empty and misleading. He cut out unnecessary words from his writing, simplified the sentence structure, and concentrated on concrete objects and actions. He adhered to a moral code that emphasized grace under pressure, and his protagonists were strong, silent men who often dealt awkwardly with women. The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms are generally considered his best novels; in 1954, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Five years before Hemingway, another American novelist had won the Nobel Prize: William Faulkner (1897–1962). Faulkner managed to encompass an enormous range of humanity in Yoknapatawpha County, a Mississippian region of his own invention. He recorded his characters' seemingly unedited ramblings in order to represent their inner states, a technique called "stream of consciousness". (In fact, these passages are carefully crafted, and their seemingly chaotic structure conceals multiple layers of meaning.) He also jumbled time sequences to show how the past – especially the slave-holding era of the Deep South – endures in the present. Among his great works are Absalom, Absalom!, As I Lay Dying, The Sound and the Fury, and Light in August.

The rise of American drama[edit]

See also: Theater of the United States

Although the United States' theatrical tradition can be traced back to the arrival of Lewis Hallam's troupe in the mid-18th century and was very active in the 19th century, as seen by the popularity of minstrel shows and of adaptations of Uncle Tom's Cabin, American drama attained international status only in the 1920s and 1930s, with the works of Eugene O'Neill, who won four Pulitzer Prizes and the Nobel Prize.

In the middle of the 20th century, American drama was dominated by the work of playwrights Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller, as well as by the maturation of the American musical, which had found a way to integrate script, music and dance in such works as Oklahoma! and West Side Story. Later American playwrights of importance include Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, David Mamet, August Wilson and Tony Kushner.

 

Questions:

1. Realism, Twain and James.

2. Literature of the beginning of the 20th century.

3. The rise of American drama.

 

Theme 13 Sports in the United States:

 

1. Individual sports

2. Popular team sports

3 Most popular sports in the United States

 

 

Sports are an important part of the culture of the United States. The four major professional sports leagues in the United States are Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League(NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL); all enjoy massive media exposure and are considered the preeminent competitions in their respective sports in the world. Three of those leagues have teams that represent Canadian cities, and all four are among the most lucrative sports leagues in the world. The top professional soccer league in the United States, Major League Soccer, has not yet reached the popularity levels of the top four sports leagues or its international counterparts, although average attendance has been increasing.

Professional teams in all major sports operate as franchises within a league. All major sports leagues use the same type of schedule with a playoff tournament after the regular season ends. In addition to the major league-level organizations, several sports also have professional minor leagues, active in smaller cities across the country.

Sports are particularly associated with education in the United States, with most high schools and universities having organized sports. College sports competitions play an important role in the American sporting culture, and certain college sports — particularly college football and college basketball — are at least as popular as professional sports. The major sanctioning body for college sports is the NCAA.

Motor sports

 

Motor sports are widely popular in the United States, but Americans generally ignore major international series, such as Formula Oneand MotoGP, in favor of home-grown racing series.

Americans, like the rest of the world, initially began using public streets as a host of automobile races. As time progressed it was soon discovered that these venues were often unsafe to the public as they offered relatively little crowd control. Promoters and drivers in the United States discovered that horse racing tracks could provide better conditions for drivers and spectators than public streets. The result has been long standing popularity for oval track racing while road racing has waned; however, an extensive illegal street racing culture persists.[1]

Indianapolis 500

 

Historically, open wheel racing was the most popular nationwide, with the Indianapolis 500 being the most widely followed race. However, an acrimonious split in 1994 between the primary series, CART (later known as Champ Car), and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (the site of the Indy 500) led to the formation of the Indy Racing League, which launched the rival IndyCar Series in 1996. From that point, the popularity of open wheel racing in the U.S. declined dramatically.[2] The feud was settled in 2008 with an agreement to merge the two series under the IndyCar banner, but enormous damage had already been done to the sport.[3] Post-merger, Indycar continues to remain with slight gains per year, despite a product that has become compelling.

NASCAR

The CART-IRL feud coincided with an enormous expansion of stock car racing, governed by NASCAR, from its past as a mostly regional circuit mainly followed in the Southern U.S. to a truly national sport. NASCAR's audience peaked in the mid 2000s, and has declined a bit but it continues to have around 2-4 million viewers per race. Current NASCAR drivers include Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. NASCAR's most popular race is the Daytona 500 held each year at Daytona Beach, Florida in February.

Other motorsports

In addition to autoracing, several other motorsports enjoy varying degrees of popularity in the United States: dirt track racing, sprint car racing, monster truckcompetitions (including the internationally popular Monster Jam circuit), demolition derby, figure 8 racing and tractor pulling.

Outdoor sports

Hunting and fishing are very popular in the U.S., especially in rural areas. Other popular outdoors activities in the country include hiking, mountain climbing, paintballand kayaking. In winter, many Americans head to mountainous areas for skiing and snowboarding. Cycling and road bicycle racing have increased in popularity, fueled by the success of cyclists Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong (although Armstrong has now been stripped of most of his honors due to doping revelations).

 

Billie Jean King founded the Women's Tennis Association and other organizations.

Tennis

Tennis is a popular sport in the U.S., with the pinnacle of the sport in the country being the US Open played every fall in New York. Tennis is popular in all five categories (Men's and Ladies' Singles; Men's, Ladies' and Mixed Doubles) however, the most popular are the singles. The United States has had a lot of success in tennis for many years, with players such asBillie Jean King (pictured), Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, and Pete Sampras dominating their sport in the past. More recently, the Williams sisters, Venus Williams and Serena Williams, have been a strong force in the women's game, and the twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan have claimed nearly every possible record for men's doubles teams.

Track & Field

There are many track and field events which involve individual athletes competing, including sprints, middle and long-distance events, and hurdling. Regular jumping events include long jump, triple jump, high jump and pole vault, while the most common throwing events are shot put, javelin,discus and hammer. There are also "combined events", such as heptathlon and decathlon, in which athletes compete in a number of the above events.

The United States has frequently set world standards in various disciplines of track and field for both male and female athletes. Tyson Gay and Michael Johnson hold various sprint records for male athletes, while Florence Griffith Joyner set various world sprint records for female athletes. Alan Webb's personal record on the mile is just three seconds short of the world record, while Mary Slaney set many world records for middle-distance disciplines.

A turning point occurred in US track in the running boom of the 1970s. After a series of American successes in various disciplines of running from the likes of marathoners Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers as well as track athletes Dave Wottle and Steve Prefontaine, running as an American past-time finally manifested.[citation needed] Carl Lewis is also credited with "normalizing" the practice of having a lengthy track career as opposed to retiring once reaching the age when it is less realistic of gaining a personal best result. The United States is home to school-sponsored track and field, a tradition in which most schools from middle school through college feature a track and field team. High school track and field in the United States provides excellent development for creating a big talent pool of athletes in the country. Due to the amount of American athletes who satisfy Olympic norm standards, the US holds national trials to select the best of its top-tier athletes for Olympic competition.

 




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