The American Renaissance
In 1850, there was a party in Stockbridge, Massachusetts that both Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville attended. a.
They asked the question: Would there ever be an American writer as great as England’s William Shakespeare? i.
Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville both agreed that there would be. 2.
Hawthorne and Melville: Opposites Attract
Herman Melville wrote Typee in 1846 and his masterpiece was Moby-Dick b.
Nathaniel Hawthorn published The Scarlet Letter in 1850
Nathaniel Hawthorn and Herman Melville developed a friendship despite their differences as they both saw a dark side to human existence, and they sought to record this aspect of human nature in their works. d.
Melville was exposed to the “power of blackness” in Hawthorne’s writing 3.
First Flowering: A Declaration of Literary Independence
Melville’s meeting with Hawthorne resulted in a magazine essay where Melville strongly defends American literature. i.
In a burst of literary patriotism, Melville said that America was close to having its own Shakespeare in Hawthorne b.
Melville’s essay coincided with a time when the American landscape and American culture would finally find their place in a literature distinct from European models. i.
Writers were aware of this time and referred to it as the renaissance, which means “rebirth”, as a description for the burst of American literary genius ii.
Could also be called “coming of age”
From 1849-1855, American writers produced enough masterpieces for a national literature. 4.
Intellectual and Social Life in New England
This burst of American literature can be brought back to the intellectual and social ferment in New England i.
New England has always been known for its interest in self-improvement and intellectual inquiry. ii.
This interest found expression in the Lyceum movement, which began in 1826, in Millbury, Massachusetts iii.
Lyceum organizations had goals of educating adults, training teachers,...
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