From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American by Malcolm Bradbury, Richard Ruland

By Malcolm Bradbury, Richard Ruland

From a Modernist/Postmodernist viewpoint, this identify addresses questions of literary and cultural nationalism. The authors show that because the 17th century, American writing has mirrored the political and historic weather of its time and helped outline America's cultural and social parameters. principally, they argue that American literature has continuously been primarily 'modern', illustrating this with a huge variety of texts: from Poe and Melville to Fitzgerald and Proud, to Wallace and Stevens, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Thomas Pynchon.

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Additional info for From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature

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It eventually takesthe shape of a "jerem rad," a primry rype of Puritan writing. The writing that is more than a tale of woe or failure; Lt is an interpretative account of hardships and troubles and ^n anguished call for return to the lost purity of earlier times. Always the rnovement of history, the detail of daily evenr, demands scrupulous attention because these things partake of an allegorical mystery. The material of journals like Winthrop's and Bradford's is the stuff of mill enarian epic, but it is epic without known outcome.

My Conversationmake to be thy Reele And reelethe yarn thereon spun of thy \wheele. The yarn is fine. Thine ordinancesmake my Fulling Mills. Then dy. the samein HeavenlyColours Choice, All pinkt with Varnisht Flowers of paradise. Then cloathetherewith mine Undersranding,\7ill, Affections,Judgement,Conscience,Memory, My \fords, and Actions, that their shine may fi,ll My v/ayeswith glory and Thee glorify. Then mine apparellshall displaybefore yee That I am Cloathd in Holy robes for glory. 26 The Literature of British America \il7hat is most remarkable is the way Taylor's verse employs the strained conceits of the meraphysical madition to render the psychological and emorional pressures of New England Calvinism, thereby using the linguistic intensity of poetic ceation as itself a means of reaching toward God and redemPtion.

Each day's experiences could be scrutintzed for indications of God's will and evidence of predestination, and so the story of individual lives grew in the pages of diaries and journals in much the way historians shaped their accounts of historical crisesand public events. What the aspirant to holiness sought as he read his life was a pattern of salvation-some indication, however minute, that he belonged to the predestined regenerate. This commitment to self-scrutiny and conscience gives us, in the many journals, a remarkable accessto the Puritans' inw ard life, their balance of self and society.

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