American literature started from somewhere. The big question is where it came from. Let’s date back to the contemporary era, which took place just after World War 1.
This was an excellent time for the USA as writers now developed their form of writing that didn’t involve the English traditions borrowed from British Literature.
Here we need to appreciate essayists like Ernest Hemingway and Eliot, who embraced and cultivated modernism in their pieces of literature. This was early to the mid-19th century.
During this time, essay writers came up with ideologies and opinions that went against the standard conform of society. They started questioning the ongoing traditions and beliefs community members took so seriously.
It was all about human perception. It was the dawn of reality for those in the dark as it awakened the thoughts of many who were in the dark.
The modern essay writers had firm beliefs that what the persona thinks is more important than the plot of the story. Here we saw essay writing incorporating some literary tools like satire, humor, and imagery.
These tools were all to make the events clearer and emphasize the message.
This massive paradigm shift from depicting some of the actions that went on in the world to appealing to aspects of emotional intelligence and human psychology was remarkable. Such is what contributed to what American literature is today.
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Exemplary Famous American Essayists
American literature has come too far, which can be attributed to the groundbreakers that made it happen. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the great African-American writers who made it to the top.
History lives to remember Jupiter for his significant contribution to American literature. Jupiter was an outstanding essay and poem writer who came up as the first black to get his writings documented.
His early work was the poem titled An Evening Thought. This poem touched the hearts of many individuals who read it. Jupiter was also a man of the Bible, and through his writings, he managed to get out the word of God to the people.
The many other poems he wrote were a real inspiration to those interested in the world.
He was a human rights activist who wished for freedom for his people but, throughout his life, never got a chance to enjoy the freedom himself.
During the times of the Great War in America, he took key roles in some of deliberating parties and organizations that represented the rights of Africans in the city of New York.
He addressed the legislating body at that time, where he made it clear that the heaven that is to come is free of slavery and black oppression. His writings took a significant role in contributing to the abolition of slavery and made an impact on the US government.
William Wells Brown
Brown was an exemplary writer of his time through his essay writing and creativity that intrigued quite a number of the many who took a chance to read them. He was a victim of ongoing slavery and black oppression. Some of his books include; Written by Himself, a Fugitive Slave.
During the implementation of the fugitive slave law in the mid-19th century, Wells fled the USA and lived in another country. However, this did not stop him from writing and creativity in his touching and inspirational words.
Later on, after fleeing, he published his debut novel Clotel. It was a touching story expressing enslaved people’s lives in the US. The literature society later appraised this as the first ever published African-American novel.
Once or twice during your literature studies, you’ve heard of these essays and poems by Dunbar. Some say this magnificent poet’s creativity and imagery were unmatched, and we couldn’t agree more.
He was also a victim of the ongoing slavery and Negro life in the states. It was a robust experience for Dunbar; unlike other enslaved people, things turned out different for him.
Years before the Harlem revival, Dunbar wrote about the sufferings that blacks went through at the hands of the white oppressors. Him being enslaved, the expressions were firsthand.
This was just but a start for him. He later published poems even in the vernacular language just to reach the necessary audience he targeted. This gave him popularity and made him one of the most influential African-American writers of that age.
Dunbar incorporated literary tools like humor, satire, and imagery in his essay writing and poetry. He went on to write poems on romance to remind the African-Americans that despite the oppression, love conquers all. Some of the poems he wrote;
Malindy sings, and We Wear the Mask
He was a great poet of his time. Cullen studied literature quite well and read some poems by renowned poets like Wordsworth and Keats. He later borrowed their poetic styles and used them to come up with his pieces on various topics in the community.
He wrote poems on self-awareness, racial prejudice, and the separation of the blacks from the white people of the USA. Such poems written by Cullen were a perfect reflection of what was going on in some of the white homes in the USA.
Later, when the Harlem revival was in full action, he was an upcoming essays and poems composer. He managed to get his first collection of writings published. The title of the group was Color.
This was a huge milestone for him as many other poets, including Leroy Locke, were astonished by the creativity of such a young poet and branded him as a genius. Comparing his pieces to other talented poets, Alan said that Cullen’s work surpassed all the qualifications that other writers had previously set.
The writer used the Harlem revival to boost the growth of his poems and published more and more writings. The poems include; The Black Christ. After a long period of writing poems, this American writer finally released his first novel, One Way to Heaven.
James was a great poem writer who later went on to publish novels during his stay in Switzerland. He was gifted with creative essay writing as he wrote on the issues of race in America and other white countries where racism was a big issue.
James was born in 1924, and as a young boy, he grew up with his stepfather, who worked in the church as a servant of God. During his entire upbringing, Baldwin never got a chance to know who his true daddy was, and this pain is well pronounced and felt in some of his famous novels;
- Giovanni’s Room
- Tell me when the train left
- Tell it On the Mountain
James found inspiration in Greenwich Village to begin his writing, and he has been a great inspiration to the poverty-stroke locals who needed someone who’d uplift them and remind them of a better tomorrow.
His hometown lives to remember and celebrate Baldwin as a hero who exposed and wasn’t shy to talk about societal injustices.
Many of his works are based on the events surrounding his era, and at theta moment, the prominent bone of contention was racism. He had to remind people about the importance of equality for all and how noble it is to respect human rights.
He faced many challenges from forces against him, which prompted him to move to France. Some of James’ great pieces of literature include:
- The Evidence of Things Not Seen
- Above My Head
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