American Literature Since 1865

Attempted to record life as it was lived rather than life as it ought to be lived (the term used for this at the time was idealism) or had been lived in times past (the term used for this was romance).

Realist authors
Mark Twain, Henry James, Edith Wharton, and William Dean Howells

Edith Wharton and Henry James
Their realism was less about middle-class people than about characters’ psychological and moral interiors.

Mark Twain and Henry James
The two most acclaimed artists of the era understood that language was an interpretation of the real rather than the real thing itself.

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Mark Twain
This author’s work was realistic in its use of colloquial and vernacular speech and its parade of characters from ordinary walks of life.

Henry James
Worked from recognizable realistic fiction, described by an all-knowing narrator, as in The American (1876), toward increasingly subtle metaphorical representations of the flow of a character’s inner thought, as in The Golden Bowl (1904).

Literary movement understood by some as an extension or intensification of realism; it introduces characters from the fringes and depths of society whose fates are determined by degenerate heredity, a sordid (extreme) environment, and/or a good deal of bad luck.

Naturalist authors
Stephen Crane, Theodore Dresier, Jack London, and Frank Norris.

Frank Norris
For this author, naturalism was not a realistic genre or an inner circle of realism. To be a naturalist was to enter the zone of romance. Like many of his contemporaries, he was profoundly influenced by Darwinism, rejecting Victorian mores for new examinations of individual survival in modern society. Many of his novels, notably McTeague, feature a supposedly civilized man struggling against and failing to overcome the inner “brute,” an animalistic self.

Stephen Crane
Said environments such as slums count for a great deal in determining human fate. In these late stories (“The Blue Hotel and “The Open Boat”), he combines a poet’s sensitivity to the sounds of words, the rhythms of language, and a highly original use of symbol, metaphor, and color with structures of action appropriate to the shifting emotional conditions of the characters he brought to life by carefully controlling point of view and skillfully blending sharply observed detail with convincing dialogue.

Theodore Dreiser
Was more fascinated by ideas and human destinies than he was in love with language.

His interest was in human motives and behavior and in the particularities of the environments that helped shape them. His writing is often blunt and ungainly, but many critics believe that his ability to structure complex narratives by manipulating point of view and by using symbols and clusters of metaphors as leitmotifs more than compensates for his sometimes awkward syntax.

Jack London
Far from a pure naturalist or determinist; a powerful current of myth and romance underlies his most successful works, such as The Call of the Wild (1903) and The Sea-Wolf (1904), and most of his nearly two hundred short stories; a writer notorious for his contradictions, at once a socialist and an individualist, a believer in Anglo-Saxon superiority who attacked white racism and colonialism. His writings reflect the social and intellectual turbulence of the turn of the 20th century, including his competing sympathies with socialism, Social Darwinism, and Nietzschean individualism; his startling combination of urban settings and characters with the pastoral and exotic; his conflicted ideas about race; his dual identity as “literary” writer of the emerging naturalist school and a mass-market phenomenon.

Regional writing
Another expression of the realist impulse, resulted from the desire both to preserve a record of distinctive ways of life before industrialization dispersed or homogenized them and to come to terms with the harsh realities that seemed to be replacing these early and allegedly happier times.

The western
One school of regionalist writing that developed quickly, once the West was won.

Hamlin Garland
Rather than creating a myth, set out to destroy one.

Like many writers of the time, the author was encouraged by William Dean Howells to write about what he knew best—in his case the farmers of the upper Midwest.

Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Sui Sin Far, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Winnemucca, and others
Works considered the world from the perspective of women awakening to, protesting against, and offering alternatives to a world dominated by men and male interests and values.

Kate Chopin, The Awakening
May be thought of as a regional writer interested in the customs, languages, and landscapes of the northern Louisiana countryside and, downriver, New Orleans.

But in addition to preserving local color, the author wrote probing psychological fiction. Primary work has served to crystallize many women’s issues of the turn of the 19th century, and since, shows that regional realism, even if its settings and characters are marginal to modern life, is by no means a marginal genre.

Walt Whitman
This author’s works were expansive, gregarious open form of the self-celebratory; interests in the city and prefigures realism and naturalism in surprising ways

Emily Dickinson
Works were concise, compact idiosyncratic verse and radically private; focuses on the inner life of the psyche

Walt Whitman
Revolutionized American poetry, a poet of democracy, celebrated the mystical, divine potential of the individual; a poet of the urban, he wrote about the sights, sounds, and energies of the modern metropolis.

Emily Dickinson
With her formal experimentation and bold thematic ambitions, she is recognized as one of the greatest American poets, a poet who continues to exert an enormous influence on the way writers think about the possibilities of poetic craft and vocation.

Her dazzlingly complex lyrics—compressed statements abounding in startling imagery and marked by an extraordinary vocabulary—explore a wide range of subjects: psychic pain and joy, the relationship of self to nature, the intensely spiritual, and the intense ordinary. Her many love poems seem to have emerged in part from close relationships with at least one woman and several men. She found a paradoxical poetic freedom within the confines of the meter of the “fourteener”—seven-beat lines usually broken into stanzas alternating four and three beats—familiar to her from earliest childhood. Breaking the rules, she used dashes and syntactical fragments to convey her pursuit of a truth that could best be communicated indirectly; these fragments dispensed with prosy verbiage and went directly to the core. Writing about religion, science, music, nature, books, and contemporary events both national and local, she often presented her poetic ideas as terse, striking definitions or propositions, or dramatic narrative scenes, in a highly abstracted moment, or setting, often at the boundaries between life and death.

She focused on the speaker’s response to a situation rather than the details of the situation itself.

Mark Twain
Name means in riverboat terms “two fathoms deep,” or “safe water.”

Mark Twain
Reputation as a lecturer and his first success as a writer lay in his skillful retelling of a well-known tall tale, “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras Country” (1865).First book of this period, and still one of his most popular, was Innocents Abroad (1869), consisting of a revised form of the letters he wrote for the Alta California and New York Tribune during his 1867 excursion on the Quaker City to the Mediterranean and Holy Land. Wrote hilarious satires of his fellow passengers as well as the pretentious, decadent, and undemocratic Old World as viewed by a citizen of a young country on the rise. In the perennially popular The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), the struggle emerges in the contrast between the entrepreneurial but entirely respectable Tom and his disreputable friend Huck.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: in recent years the racial (and racist) implications of every aspect of the novel have been the subjects of critical debate, as have questions about the racial beliefs of the author. Huck sold 51,000 copies in its first 14 months, compared to Tom Sawyer’s 25,000 in the same period. Ernest Hemingway once called it the source of “all modern American literature.”

Bret Hart
Success rested on his ability to combine features of regional writing—distinctive characters and realistically described settings—with romantic and sentimentalized settings and characters. Focused on character types, such as schoolmarms, stagedrivers, and whores, to give readers a feel for what he called “a heterogeneous and remarkable population” drawn to the Pacific coast by the discovery of gold and remaining there to make their fortunes.

Henry Adams
Rehearses his own miseducation by his family, by schools, and by his experience of various social institutions; ironically offers his own “failures” as a negative example to young men of the time; and describes the increasingly rapid collapse of Western culture in the era after the 12th century; during which the Virgin Mary gave way to the Industrial Dynamo as the object of humankind’s worship.

Ambrose Bierce
Perhaps the fascination with the supernatural that he displays in his fiction is similarly an attempt to escape the ordinary society of humanity he claimed to detest. personal life was a series of disasters. His pessimism, cynicism, nihilism, and gallows, humor, as well as his publicized spats with fellow writers, are in the American tradition of naysaying, which runs from Herman Melville to Thomas Pynchon. It is not the mordant wit of the Devil’s Dictionary or his penchant for the grotesque, however, that finally makes him significant.

In his best work, such as Tales of Soldiers and Civilians (1891; later retitled In the Midst of Life), he, like Stephen Crane and Ernest Hemingway after him, converted the disordered experience of war into resonant and dramatic fictional revelations with strong moral and ethical messages.

Henry James
By the time he was 21, he was publishing reviews and stories in some of the leading American journals—Atlantic Monthly, North American Review, Galaxy, and Nation. Two parts of his career: In the first, which culminated with The Portrait of a Lady (1881), he felt his way toward and appropriated the so-called international theme—the drama, comic and tragic, of Americans in Europe and occasionally of Europeans in America. In the tripartite second period, he experimented with diverse themes and forms—initially in novels dealing with the social and political currents of the 1870s and 1880s, then in writing for the theater, and finally in shorter fictions exploring the relationship of artists to society and the troubled psyches of oppressed children, as in What Maisie Knew (1908), and haunted or obsessed adults, as in “The Beast in the Jungle” (1904, 1909). In his last period, the so-called major phase, which culminated with The Golden Bowl (1904), he returned to international and cosmopolitan subjects in elaborately complex narratives of great epistemological and moral challenges to readers.

Sarah Orne Jewett
Reached artistic maturity with the publication of the collection A White Heron in 1886; later collections of sketches and stories include The King of Folly Island (1888), A Native of Winby (1893), and The Life of Nancy (1895). In these works the careful documentary record of landscape, people, and dialect is described with understanding and sympathy. The strong older women who survive in the region form of a female community that, for many critics, is a hallmark of New England regionalism.

Kate Chopin
Grew up in the company of loving, intelligent, independent women.

Particularly important was her strong-willed great-grandmother, a compelling and tireless storyteller whose influence may have been central to her becoming a significant regional writer and of the author of a remarkable novel, The Awakening (1899), that speaks radically to issues of gender, sexuality, and the American family.

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
“A New England Nun” and other Stories, which appeared in 1891, contains several of her best stories, most notably the title story, which treats the pervasive theme of the psychic oppression and rebellion of women. At the same time as she provides a vivid sense of place, local dialect, and personality type, she also offers in her best work inside into the individual psychology and interior life produced when confining, inherited codes of village life are subject to the pressure of a rapidly changing secular and urban world.

Anna Julia Cooper
Best-known book, A Voice from the South by a Black Woman from the South (1892), argued that women were the keys to racial reform. Perhaps because of its focus on women, her work was largely ignored, even by such black leaders as Frederick Douglass and W.E.

B. Du Bois, whom she publicly supported.

Booker T.


Between the last decade of the nineteenth century and the beginning of World War I, no one exercised more influence over race relations in the US than this person. He wanted to help African Americans enter mainstream white society with the least possible violence and thus advocated an educational program of vocational rather than intellectual or professional training.

Charles W. Chestnutt
Became a skillful, original, realistic regionalist who depicted both average southern blacks and those of mixed blood who lived on the color line and were sometimes middle-class. He was also the first African American imaginative writer to be taken seriously by the white press, including William Dean Howells, even when he did not write mere “dialect stories.”

Pauline Elizabeth Hawkins
Prolific African American woman writer and influential literary editor of the first decade of the 20th century who until recently has been overshadowed by writers of the Harlem Renaissance, for whom she helped lay much groundwork. She was a gifted storyteller whose fiction mingles suspenseful story lines with forceful presentations of turn-of-the-century debates on race. Contending Forces: a family saga tracing the personal and social effects of racism in the South and North; psychological exploration of racial “hidden selves” painfully imagines the personal implications of Du Bois’s “double consciousness.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Lived her life, for the most part, on the margins of a society whose economic assumptions about and social definitions of women she vigorously repudiated. -In 1898 she published Women and Economics, the book that earned her immediate celebrity and that is still considered her most important nonfiction work. This powerful “feminist manifesto” argues a thesis she was to develop and refine for the rest of her life: women’s economic dependency on men stunts not only the growth of women but that of the whole human species.

Edith Wharton
Although she was later to write about other subjects, she discovered in The House of Mirth her central settings, plots, and themes: the old aristocracy of New York in conflict with the nouveau riche, the futile struggle of characters trapped by social forces larger and individuals morally smaller than themselves. The House of Mirth tells the story of the beautiful but hapless Lily Bart, trained to be a decorative upper-class wife but unable to sell herself as merchandise. In The Custom of the Country (1913), which she considered her “masterpiece,” the ruthless Undine Spragg from Ohio makes her way up the social ladder, stepping on Americans and Europeans alike in her pursuit of money and the power that goes with it.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett
Her pamphlet Southern Horror: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1892) was followed by A Red Record (1894) and “Mob Rule in New Orleans” (1900). This text is a lengthy but trenchant account of notorious riot and lynching’s in New Orleans in 1900, using the very words of the white-controlled New Orleans newspapers to condemn white violence and injustice to black citizens.

Sui Sin Far (Edith Maud Eaton)
Was the first Eurasian writer to transform the experiences of late 19th century Chinese immigrants to North America into enduring art. Her book, Mrs. Spring Fragrance (1912), deserves our attention not simply because she was the first to record the manifold wrongs done to the Chinese in North America but also because she wrote with skill and imaginative power.

W.E.B. DuBois
First came to national attention with the publication of The Souls of Black Folk (1903), characterized by scholar Eric J.

Sundquist as “the preeminent text of African American cultural consciousness.” Though he had initially joined in the general approval of this “separate and unequal” philosophy, by the early 1900s he had begun to reject Washington’s position, and with the publication of Souls of Black Folk his public defiance of Washington put the two men in lasting opposition. The almost immediate repudiation of Souls of Black Folk by Washington’s allies reinforced his emerging radicalism; he became a leader in the Niagara Movement (1905), a movement aggressively demanding for African Americans the same civil rights enjoyed by white Americans.

William Dean Howells
In his earlier career, he had insisted on eliding those passions that could not be revealed in polite novels; but this point, he had come to believe that “realism excludes nothing that is true,” and that truth is synonymous with beauty. He argues that the novel is a vehicle of social reform and advances those who write toward that goal.

Mary Hunter Austin
Her Land of Little Rain (1903), containing sketches and stories, followed the nature-based philosophical tradition of Henry David Thoreau and John Muir; it was immediately successful and is still her best-known work.

Anna Julia Cooper
Best-known book, A Voice from the South by a Black Woman from the South (1892), argued that women were the keys to racial reform. Perhaps because of its focus on women, her work was largely ignored, even by such black leaders as Frederick Douglass and W.E.

B. Du Bois, whom she publicly supported.

Response to the effects of World War I, which were far more devastating on the Continent than they were in the US; the previously sustaining structures of human life, whether social, political, religious, or artistic, had been destroyed or shown up as falsehoods or, at best, arbitrary and fragile human constructions; construction out of fragments—fragments of myth or history, fragments of experience or perception, fragments of previous artistic works; tends to foreground the search for meaning over didactic statement; prose writing strove for directness, compression, and vividness.

Expatriates of high modernism
Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, HD (Hilda Doolittle), and TS Eliot

Modernists who lived aboard for some part of the period
Hemingway, Sherwood Anderson, Fitzgerald, Claude McKay, Porter, Larsen, Frost, Kay Boyle, and Eugene O’Neill all did so, as did many others including Sinclair Lewis and Djuna Barnes.

William Faulkner
A writer who chose to identify himself with the American scene and to root his work in a specific region, continuing a tradition of regionalist American writing that burgeoned in the years following the American Civil War.

Writers associated with the Harlem Renaissance
Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston

Willa Cather
While Alexandra is extraordinary as the most successful farmer—the only woman farmer—on the Nebraska Divide, and Thea is extraordinary as a gifted opera singer, Antonia has no unusual gifts; for the novel’s many readers she stands for the entire experience of European settlement of the Great Plains. The author sees the frontier as a shifting kaleidoscope of overlapping social groups and individuals. Recognizing that even by the second decade of the 20th century this period in US history had disappeared, the author approached her characters with deep respect for what they had endured and accomplished.

Gertrude Stein
Among modernists active between wars, this author was more radically experimental than most. In Three Lives, she set herself the difficult task of representing the consciousness of three ordinary, working-class women whose lives and minds were not the conventional material of serious language.

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas
Conveys a matter-of-fact, concrete, at times gossipy tone and declines to moralize the end of the war as a high drama of ideals achieved.

Alan Seeger
His poetry romanticized the sacrifices of military service.

John Reed
Authorized two enthusiastic looks about the Russian Revolution, Red Russia and Ten Days That Shook the World; both became international sensations on their publication in 1919.

Ernest Hemingway
Drew on his experiences on the Italian front and in the military hospital for the character Frederic Henry, a wounded American officer, in his novel A Farwell to Arms (1929).

Jessie Redmon Fauset
The first black woman to attend Cornell University. Her career as a novelist began with There Is Confusion (1924), a group portrait of young African Americans in the black communities of New York and Washington D.C. Like her other novels, There Is Confusion concerns itself primarily with the dilemmas of a literature, ambitious black middle class.

John Allan Wyeth
His only published book of poems, This Man’s Army: A War in Fifty-Odd Sonnets (1928), transformed a literary form traditional associated with love into a vehicle for colloquial dialogue and biting observation of men at war.

Robert Frost
achieved an internal dynamic in his poems by playing the rhythms of ordinary speech against formal patterns of line and verse and containing them within traditional forms. The interaction of colloquial diction with blank verse is especially central to his dramatic monologues. To him traditional forms were the essence of poetry, material with which poets responded to flux and disorder by forging something permanent. He shared with Emerson and Thoreau the belief that everybody was a separate individuality and that collective enterprises could do nothing but weaken the self.

Susan Glaspell
Her realism—her unsparing depiction of women’s narrow, thwarted, isolated, and subjugated lives in rural, regional settings—produces effects quite unlike the nostalgic celebrations of woman-centered societies often associated with women regionalists. The efficiently plotted Trifles also features a formal device found in her other works, including Alison’s Room: the main character at its center never appears.

Ezra Pound
First campaigned for imagism, his name for a new kind of poetry.

Rather than describing something—an object or situation—and then generalizing about it, imagist poets attempted to present the object directly, avoiding the ornate diction and complex but predictable verse forms of traditional poetry. He thought of the US as a culturally backward nation and longed to produced a sophisticated, worldly poetry on behalf of his country. Walt Whitman was his symbol of American poetic narrowness.

Looking for an explanation of what had gone wrong, he came upon the “social credit” theories of Major Clifford Hugh Douglas, a social economist who attributed all the ills of civilization to the interposition of money between human exchanges of goods. At this point, poetry and politics fused in his work, and he began to search for a society in which art was protected from money and to record this search in poems and essays.

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
Printed three vivid poems by an unknown imagist. These spare, elegant lyrics were among the first important products of the “imagist movement”: poems devoid of explanation and declamation, unrhymed and lacking regular beat, depending on the power of an image to arrest attention and convey emotion. Friends with Ezra Pound. It is, perhaps, a symbol of her sense of difficulty that, though she strove for a voice that could be recognized as clearly feminine, she continued to publish under the name that Pound had devised for her.

Imagist poetry, for which she was known during her lifetime, represents the imagist credo with its vivid phrasing, compelling imagery, free verse, short poetic line, and avoidance of abstraction and generalization.

T.S. Eliot
The poem’s title (The Waste Land) and the view it incorporated of modern civilization seemed, to many, to catch precisely the state of culture and society after World War I. The long, fragmented structure of The Waste Land, too, contained so many technical innovations that ideas of what poetry was and how it worked seemed fundamentally changed. A generation of poets either imitated or resisted it. The Waste Land consists of five discontinuous segments, each composed of fragments incorporating multiple voices and characters, literary and historical allusions, vignettes of contemporary life, surrealistic images, myths, and legends. After “The Hollow Men” and the “Sweeney” poems, which continue The Waste Land’s critique of modern civilization, he turned increasingly to poems of religious doubt and reconciliation—”The Journey of the Magi” and “Ash Wednesday.

Eugene O’Neill
The nation’s first playwright, the first to explore serious themes in the theater and to experiment with theatrical conventions. He was influenced by the population of certain ideas of the Viennese psychoanalyst Signund Freud: the power of irrational drives; the existence of a subconscious; the roles of repression, suppression, and inhibition in the formation of personality and in adult suffering; the importance of sex; and above all the lifelong influence of parents. His 1931 Mourning Becomes Electra, based on the Oresteia cycle of the classical Greek playwright Aeschylus, situated the ancient story of family murder and divine retribution in Civil War America with great success.

Claude McKay
A lifelong wanderer, a “sojourner” in the Harlem Renaissance. Home to Harlem (1928), written mostly in France, was an episodic guide to Harlem’s artistic, popular, and intellectual life.

Later events turned It into one of the movement’s last statements; retrenchment in the publishing industry after the stock market crash of 1929, the emergence of younger African American writers with different values, and dissension among Harlem artists themselves combined to bring an end to the Harlem Renaissance and altered the character of life in Harlem itself.

Katherine Anne Porter
Planned each story meticulously—taking extensive notes, devising scenarios, roughing out dialogue, and revising many times, sometimes over a period of years. She did not write confessional or simple autobiographical fiction, but each story originated in an important real experience of her life and drew on deep feelings. Although not a feminist, she devoted much of her work to exploring the tensions in women’s lives in the modern era.

Zora Neale Hurston
Work was not entirely popular with the male intellectual leaders of the Harlem community.

She quarreled especially with Langston Hughes; she rejected the idea that a black writer’s chief concern should be how blacks were being portrayed to the white reader. She did not write to “uplift her race,” either, because in her view it was already uplifted, she was not embarrassed to present her characters as mixtures of good and bad, strong and weak. Some of the other Harlem writers thought her either naïve or egotistical, but she argued that freedom could only mean freedom from all coercion, no matter what the source. Their Eyes Were Watching God: This novel about an African American woman’s quest for selfhood has become a popular and critical favorite, both a woman’s story, and a descriptive critique of southern African American folk society, showing its divisions and diversity. Technically, it is a loosely organized, highly metaphorical novel, with passages of broad folk humor and of extreme artistic compression.

Nelle Larsen
Writings showed how uplift’s demand for racial allegiance could tear apart the inner lives of African Americans. Her own mixed-race background enabled her to see that already in the 1920s the majority of Americans socially categorized as “Negroes” were in fact people of mixed racial ancestry and led her to ask how there could be such a thing as racial authenticity if there was no such thing as “pure” race.

She saw that even if race was an artificial construct, it had powerfully real effects—effects that to her were always destructive of African American selfhood. Quicksand is a psychological and episodic novel whose style embodies modernist principles of brevity and impressionistic subjectivity. It takes the protagonist into both urban and rural black communities; like the paintings of Archibald Motley, Quicksand shows the full class spectrum of black Chicago and Harlem. In all these communities, Helga is thwarted by external and internal racial pressures—internal because she interprets her own desires in stereotypical terms of the primitive and the civilized, external because she is always perceived in racial terms and her life options are thoroughly constrained by racial prejudice.

Edna St. Vincent Millay
Her output ranged from Elizabethan sonnets through plays and sketches to political speeches. In the 1920s, she became a kind of national symbol of the modern woman—liberated from Victorian mores, independent, self-supporting, full of energy and talent. -Although as a young woman she achieved notoriety mainly for love poetry that described free, guiltless sexuality, her poems are more founded in the failure of love than in the joy of sex.

Jean Toomer
Structure held together, like many modernist narratives, by the narrator’s quest for wholeness. Cane asks whether an alienated, sophisticated, contemporary African American can find himself by connecting to a black folk heritage that he has never known. The circumstances are specifically African American, but the theme of returning to, or finding, or even inventing, one’s roots is typical of much modernist art.


Scott Fitzgerald

He combined the traditional narrative and rhetorical gifts of a good fiction writer, it appeared, with a thoroughly modern sensibility.

William Faulkner
Published novels about childhood, families, sex, race, obsessions, time, the past, his native South, and the modern world. He invented voices for characters ranging from sages to children, criminals, the insane, even the dead—sometimes all within one book.

He developed, beyond this ventriloquism, his own unmistakable narrative voice, urgent, intense, highly rhetorical. He experimented with narrative chronology and with techniques for representing mind and memory. He invented an entire southern country and wrote its history. -The Sound and the Fury (1929)—his favorite novel—and As I Lay Dying (1930) were dramatically experimental attempts to articulate the inexpressible aspects of individual psychology.

Hart Crane
Before his suicide at the age of 32, he led a life of extremes: he wrote poetry of frequently ecstatic intensity, drank uncontrollably, had bitterly ambivalent relations with his quarreling parents; he relished the comparative erotic freedom of post-World War I Greenwich Village while enduring his literary friends’ disapproval of his homosexuality.

His practice centered on metaphor—the device that, in his view, represented the difference between poetry and expository prose. He believed that metaphor had preceded logic in the development of human thought and that it still remained the primary mode in which human thought and that it still remained the primary mode in which human knowledge was acquired and through which experience was connected to mind.

Thomas Wolfe
Writing was opposed to Fitzgerald’s and Hemingway’s. -Look Homeward, Angel (1929) made him a celebrity, which was a fictional recreation of his youth and of the members of his family; the hero, Eugene Gant, is he himself. Its picture of the mountain South is a substantial contribution to American regional writing.

Sterling Brown
Presented himself to the public mainly as a teacher and scholar of African American folk culture and written literature. During the Harlem Renaissance movement, he was also hailed as a technically accomplished and eloquent poet. Rediscovered by younger black poets in the late 1960s, he has since been called, to quote the poet Michael S.

Harper, “a trustee of consciousness, and a national treasure.” His first book, Outline for the Study of the Poetry of American Negroes (1931), was a pedagogical supplement to James Weldon Johnson’s Book of American Negro Poetry, including paper topics, study questions, definitions, and other material.

Langston Hughes
Was the most popular and versatile of the many writers connected with the Harlem Renaissance. Along with Zora Neale Hurston, and in contrast to Jean Toomer and Countee Cullen, he wanted to capture the dominant oral and improvisatory traditions of black culture in written form.

In 1943 he invented the folksy, streetwise character Jesse B. Semple, whose commonsense prose monologues on race were eventually collected in four volumes, and Alberta K. Johnson, Semple’s female equivalent, in his series of “Madam” poems.

Drew on rural folk forms; focused on modern, urban black life.

Kay Boyle
Published novels, poetry, and essays, but she remains best known for her short stories. “The White Horses of Vienna,” based on her experience in Austria in the years preceding the Nazi annexation, won the O. Henry Award for best American short story in 1935; her other O.Henry winner, “Defeat” (1941), dramatized the collapse of France under the German attack.

John Steinbeck
Best writing is set in the region of California that he called home, the Salinas Valley and Monterey peninsula of California, where visitors today will find official remembrances of him everywhere. His work merged literary modernism with literary realism, celebrated traditional rural communities along with social outcasts and immigrants cultures, and endorsed conservative values and radical politics at the same time.

Countee Cullen
Valued traditional poetic forms in English—the sonnet, rhymed couplets, and quatrains—over modernist free verse or rhythms suggested by jazz and popular culture.

-What mattered to him was appreciating the full range of black literary writing, a range as great, he insisted, as that found among white poets in English, and resisting every “attempt to corral the ebony muse into some definite mold” to which all black writers should conform.

Richard Wright
With the 1940 publication of Native Son he became the first African American author of a bestseller. The novel is an uncompromising study of an African American underclass youth who is goaded to brutal violence by the oppression, hatred, and incomprehension of the white world. It showed that blacks had been deprived of their inheritance.

His immersion in Marxist doctrine gave him tools for representing society as divided into antagonistic classes and run for the benefit of the few. His writing from first to last affirmed the dignity and humanity of society’s outcasts without romanticizing them, and indicted those who had cast them out.

Carlos Bulosan
Was the first, and still the most important, Filipino-American author, one of the earliest voices in the Asian American literary tradition. His writing shifts from oratorical generalization in praise of American ideals to naturalistic, hard-boiled accounts of poverty, exploitation, and prejudice. His stylistic ambivalence well represents his divided feelings. He was in love with an imaginary US but found that the terrible in America shatters the Filipinos’ dream of fraternity.

Thomas Wolfe
Writing was opposed to Fitzgerald’s and Hemingway’s.

-Look Homeward, Angel (1929) made him a celebrity, which was a fictional recreation of his youth and of the members of his family; the hero, Eugene Gant, is he himself. Its picture of the mountain South is a substantial contribution to American regional writing.

Sterling A. Brown
Presented himself to the public mainly as a teacher and scholar of African American folk culture and written literature. During the Harlem Renaissance movement, he was also hailed as a technically accomplished and eloquent poet. Rediscovered by younger black poets in the late 1960s, Brown has since been called, to quote the poet Michael S. Harper, “a trustee of consciousness, and a national treasure.” -His first book, Outline for the Study of the Poetry of American Negroes (1931), was a pedagogical supplement to James Weldon Johnson’s Book of American Negro Poetry, including paper topics, study questions, definitions, and other material.

Thomas Wolfe
Writing was opposed to Fitzgerald’s and Hemingway’s. -Look Homeward, Angel (1929) made him a celebrity, which was a fictional recreation of his youth and of the members of his family; the hero, Eugene Gant, is he himself. Its picture of the mountain South is a substantial contribution to American regional writing.

E.E. Cummings
The Enormous Room records his ensuing three months in French jails and prison camps.

The novelist John Dos Passos, reviewing The Enormous Room for The Dial, praised it as “reckless,” colloquial, and vividly personal style in rendering his encounter with “a bit of the underside of History.”

Modernist characteristics
Fragmented, ambiguous; search for meaning; departs from traditional forms

Postmodern characteristics
Fragmented, paradoxical, ironic; uses black humor and stream of consciousness narration; intertextuality; blur between fiction and reality