Ўзбекистон республикаси олий ва ўрта махсус таълим



Download 177.28 Kb.
Page1/4
Date conversion29.04.2016
Size177.28 Kb.
  1   2   3   4




ЎЗБЕКИСТОН РЕСПУБЛИКАСИ ОЛИЙ ВА

ЎРТА МАХСУС ТАЪЛИМ

ВАЗИРЛИГИ


ГУЛИСТОН ДАВЛАТ УНИВЕРСИТЕТИ

Early Colonial Period in the History of American Literature

МАВЗУСИДАГИ БИТИРУВ-МАЛАКАВИЙ ИШИ


Юлдашева Г.

ГУЛИСТОН - 2013

CONTENTS

I. INTRODUCTION………………………………………………………………2

II. THE MAIN PART……………………………………………………………..5

Chapter 1. The Place of Colonial Literature in the History of American Literature………………………………………………………………………….5

1.1 Overview of American History and Literature…………………………………5

1.2 Early Colonial Period in American Literature………………………………….9

1.3 Early American and Colonial Period to 1776…………………………………13

1.4 The Colonial Period in New England…………………………………………19

Chapter 2. Representatives of Colonial American Literature and Their Works……………………………………………………………………………..31

2.1 William Bradford – His Life, career as a Writer and Explorer……………….31

2.1.1 “Of Plymouth Plantation” by Bradfrod and the History of American Colonization………………………………………………………………..35

2.2 Anne Bradstreet – the First American Women Writer of the Colonial Period.39

2.2.1 Bradstreet’s “Prologue” and “To the Memory of My Dear and Ever Honored Father”……………………………………………………………43

2.3 Charles Brockden Brown as a Representative of Purely Colonial Literature...45

2.3.1 About William Brockden Brown’s Gothic Tale “Wieland”…………48

III.CONCLUSION……………………………………………………………...52

IV.BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………………..55
I. INTRODUCTION
American Literature: Prose, fiction and nonfiction of the American colonies and the United States, written in the English language from about 1600 to the present. This literature captures America’s quest to understand and define itself. From the beginning America was unique in the diversity of its inhabitants; over time they arrived from all parts of the world.

Although English quickly became the language of America, regional and ethnic dialects have enlivened and enriched the country’s literature almost from the start. Today American prose encompasses a variety of traditions and voices that share a common context: the geographical region now known as the United States. Native American literatures, which were largely oral at the time of colonial settlement, stand apart as a separate tradition that is itself strong and varied.



For its first 200 years American prose reflected the settlement and growth of the American colonies, largely through histories, religious writings, and expedition and travel narratives. Biography also played an important role, especially in America’s search for native heroes. Fiction appeared only after the colonies gained independence, when the clamor for a uniquely American literature brought forth novels based on events in America’s past. With a flowering of prose in the mid-1800s, the young nation found its own voice. By then fiction had become the dominant literary genre in America. In the 20th century, American literature took its place on the world stage and began to exert influence on other literatures

Topicality of the research can be explained by the necessity of studying American literature and its history. The period of American literature which is called colonial period is very interesting in its exploration and pioneering of genres. This period of history of American literature is topical to explore because the roots of purely American literature lie lean on this period. The work on this topic will help to widen the knowledge and material for study regarding colonial period of American literature.

The aim of the qualification paper is to study the characteristic features of colonial period of American literature.

The tasks of the research include:

  • studying the peculiarities, social condition, history and political views of the period;

  • exploring the place of the period on the development of American literature;

  • reviewing related literature on the peculiarities of the period;

  • studying the works of representatives of the period and giving the overall background to the literature of the period.

Results and novelty of the qualification paper: Social and political condition along with the literary movements of the period were studied in the qualification paper. In studying the paper we approached to the colonial history of American literature as a separate period and studied the members of the period within the period. We also tried to give brief definition and description to the period with the help of works of representatives of the period.

Practical value of the qualification paper. Materials presented in the qualification paper are useful for the students of foreign languages departments in studying the history of American literature and its development stages. Qualification paper may serve as an additional source for doing self-study tasks, reports and other assignments in the History of English and American Literature.

Objects and methods of the research. Colonial period of American literature was taken as an object of our research. In doing the work we used the method of literature review in working with materials, literary analysis method in analyzing peculiar features of works of the period.

Structure of the qualification paper. The qualification paper consists of introduction, main part and its chapters, a conclusion and the list of used literature.

Introduction mainly deals with the research specifications and considers briefly the research aims, tasks, topicality and value.

The first chapter of the work is on the literature review about the colonial and early history of American literature.

The second chapter is devoted to the analysis of works of representative of colonial period of American literature.



THE MAIN PART

Chapter 1. Literature Review on the Place of Colonial Literature in the History of American Literature
1.1 Overview of American History and Literature
The immigration of the Pilgrims to New England occurred in stages. But that they had to go somewhere became apparent soon enough. Theirs was the position of the Separatist: they believed that the reforms of the Anglican church had not gone far enough, that, although the break with Catholicism in 1535 had moved some way toward the Puritan belief in and idea of religious authority grounded solely in Scripture, by substituting king for pope as the head of the church, England was only recapitulating an unnecessary, corrupt, and even idolatrous order [4]. In one basic respect, the Pilgrims are a logical outcome of the Reformation. In its increasing dissemination of the Bible, the increasing emphasis on it as the basis of spiritual meaning, the subsequently increasing importance of literacy as a mode of religious authority and awareness, a growing individualism was implicit. This individualism may then have easily led to an atomization or dispersion of authority that the monarchy duly feared, and that later generations of Americans could easily label democratization. As a writer in 1921 put it, "They accepted Calvin's rule, that those who are to exercise any public function in the church should be chosen by common voice" (Wheelwright, vii). However much this might emphasize the democratic qualities of the Pilgrims, as dissenters they do suggest at some level the origins of democratic society, in its reliance upon contending and even conflicting points of view, and in its tendency toward a more fluid social structure. [5]

But theirs was a religious, not a political agenda; moral and theological principles were involved, and from their perspective, there could be no compromise. For them 2 Corinthians made it clear: "Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord." To achieve and preserve a simplicity and 'purity' that they felt had been lost amid the some of the surviving features of Catholicism‐‐the rituals which continued through into the Anglican Church and were epitomized in its statement, "'I believe in...the holy Catholick Church'" (Gill, 19). To establish themselves as rightful interpreters of the Bible independent of an inherited social and cultural order, they removed from the Anglican Church in order to reestablish it as they believed it truly should be. This of course meant leaving the country, and they left for Holland in 1608. [5]

After 12 years, they decided to move again. Having gone back to England to obtain the backing of the Virginia Company, 102 Pilgrims set out for America. The reasons are suggested by William Bradford, when he notes the "discouragements" of the hard life they had in Holland, and the hope of attracting others by finding "a better, and easier place of living"; the "children" of the group being "drawne away by evill examples into extravagence and dangerous courses"; the "great hope, for the propagating and advancing the gospell of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world" [15]. In these reasons, the second sounds most like the Pilgrims many Americans are familiar with‐‐the group that wants to be left alone and live in its own pure and righteous way. Behind it seems to lie not only the fear of the breakdown of individual families, but even a concern over the dissolution of the larger community. [5] The concern seems to be that their split with England was now only effecting their own disolution into Dutch culture. But it is also interesting to note the underlying traces of evangelism in, if not the first, certainly the last of the reasons. On the one hand, this strain would find its later expression (and perversion) in such portrayals of the Pilgrims as the Rotunda fresco, where the idea of conversion is baldly fashioned within the image of conquest; here, the Indian is shown as subdued before the word of the "kingdom" even as the Pilgrims are landing, and the Pilgrim is seen as an agent of domination, a superior moral force commanding by its sheer presence. On the other hand, such a portrayal suggests an uneasy tension with the common (and seemingly accurate) conception of the Pilgrims as a model of tolerance. Indeed, the first of their reasons for sailing to America is fairly passive‐‐they want to "draw" others by the example of their prosperity, not necessarily go conquer and actively convert. Such an idea reflects the one that would be expressed explicitly by the Puritan John Winthrop, where the New World would become a beacon of religious light, a model of spiritual promise, a "citty upon a hill." [11]

In any case, from their own point of view, they are 'agents' only insofar as they are agents of Providence, and as Bradford strives to make clear throughout, the narrative of their actions is only an interpretation of the works of God. Thus, in a remarkable instance when a "proud and very profane yonge man" who "would curse and swear most bitterly" falls overboard from the Mayflower and drowns, it is seen as "the just hand of God upon him" [11]. So too when a member of their party is saved from drowning, or when the initial landing party finds the corn and beans for seed, or with their safe arrival at Plymouth Bay in general, is the "spetiall providence of God" evinced. And Bradford seems to selfconsciously maintain this version of the Christian perspective as an historical one, never allowing the reader or student of the Pilgrims to forget that their story is one with a trajectory‐‐coming from its beginnings England, and moving through the beginnings of the 'New World'. This is an emphasis that will serve histories and memories alike, especially in viewing the Revolution and the increased democratization of the United States as some necessary fulfillment of the Pilgrim promise. [12]

Naturally, the primary text for later interpreters would be the Mayflower Compact, which Bradford gives:

In the name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwriten, by the loyall subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by the grace of God, of Great Britaine, Franc, and Ireland king, defender of the faith, etc. [12]

Haveing undertaken, for the glorie of God, and advancemente of the Christian faith, and honour of our king and countrie, a voyage to plant the first colonie in the Northerne parts of Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly and mutually in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine our selves togeather into a civill body politick, for our better ordering and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by vertue hereof to enacte, constitute and frame shuch just and equall lawes, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meete and convenient for the generall good of the Colonie, unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness whereof we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cap‐Codd the .11. of November, in the year of the raigne of our soveraigne lord, King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fiftie‐fourth. Anno Dom. [8]

Bradford writes of the Compact, that it developed partly in response to "the discontented and mutinous speeches" of some of the "strangers"‐‐colonists who had travelled with them but who "were uncommitted to church fellowship"‐and

that it asserted and firmed the Pilgrims' "owne libertie; for none had the power to command them, the patente they had being for Virginia, and not for New england...." The Compact thus arose out of a need to maintain social and civic coherence, to ensure that the officials elected and the group as a whole would have some legitimation against challenges to its "legal authority" [8]. Michael Kammen, however, notes a "tradition" in the early 19th century "in which the Compact was viewed as part of the repudiation of English domination" [8]. Surely there are evident democratic tendencies in the text, wherein a code established from the consent of the people becomes the underpinning of a society of "just and equall lawes," where the officials and figures of authority are all elected. But as "loyall subjects" to the "dread soveraigne Lord, King James," their task is twofold: to maintain a degree of independence that would allow them to live in accordance with their Separatist views, but also to keep the ties to England strong enough so that those who did not share their religion nevertheless would be bound by an order ultimately traceable to the Crown. [18]

The misreadings that Kammen notes will be discussed further in following sections.



1.2 Early Colonial Period in American Literature
The story of a nation's literature ordinarily has its beginning far back in the remoter history of that nation, obscured by the uncertainties of an age of which no trustworthy records have been preserved. [18] The earliest writings of a people are usually the first efforts at literary production of a race in its childhood; and as these compositions develop they record the intellectual and artistic growth of the race. The conditions which attended the development of literature in America, therefore, are peculiar. At the very time when Sir Walter Raleigh - a type of the great and splendid men of action who made such glorious history for England in the days of Elizabeth ‐was organizing the first futile efforts to colonize the new world, English Literature, which is the joint possession of the whole English‐speaking race, was rapidly developing. Sir Philip Sidney had written his Arcadia, first of the great prose romances, and enriched English poetry with his sonnets; Edmund Spenser had composed The Shepherd's Calendar; [18] Christopher Marlowe had established the drama upon heroic lines; and Shakespeare had just entered on the first flights of his fancy. When, in 1606, King James granted to a company of London merchants the first charter of Virginia, Sidney and Spenser and Marlowe were dead, Shakespeare had produced some of his greatest plays, the name of Ben Jonson, along with other notable names, had been added to the list of our great dramatists, and the philosopher, Francis Bacon, had published the first of his essays. [18] These are the familiar names which represent the climax of literary achievement in the Elizabethan age; and this brilliant epoch had reached its full height when the first permanent English settlement in America was made at Jamestown in 1607. On New Year's day, the little fleet commanded by Captain Newport sailed forth on its venturesome and romantic enterprise, the significance of which was not altogether unsuspected by those who saw it depart. Michael Drayton, one of the most popular poets of his day, later poet laureate of the kingdom, sang in quaint, prophetic verses a cheery farewell:

"You brave heroic minds,

Worthy your country's name,

That honor still pursue,

Go and subdue,

Whilst loitering hinds

Lurk here at home with shame.

"And in regions farre,

Such heroes bring ye forth

As those from whom we came;

And plant our name

Under that star

Not known unto our north.

"And as there plenty grows

Of laurel everywhere,

Apollo's sacred tree,

You it may see,

A poet's brows

that may sing there."
This little band of adventurers "in regions farre" disembarked from the ships Discovery, Good Speed, and Susan Constant upon the site of a town yet to be built, fifty miles inland, on the shore of a stream as yet unexplored, in the heart of a vast green wilderness the home of savage tribes who were none too friendly. It was hardly to be expected that the ripe seeds of literary culture should be found in such a company, or should germinate under such conditions in any notable luxuriance. [11] The surprising fact, however, is that in this group of gentlemen adventurers there was one man of some literary craft, who, while leading the most strenuous life of all, efficiently protecting and heartening his less courageous comrades in all manner of perilous experiences, compiled and wrote with much literary skill the picturesque chronicles of the settlement. [12]

Captain John Smith, the mainstay of the Jamestown colony in the critical period of its early existence, was a true soldier of fortune, venturesome, resolute, self‐reliant, resourceful; withal a man of great good sense, and with the grasp on circumstances which belongs to the man of power. His life since leaving his home on a Lincolnshire farm at sixteen years of age had been replete with romantic adventure. He had been a soldier in the French army and had served in that of Holland. He had wandered through Italy and Greece into the countries of eastern Europe, and had lived for a year in Turkey and Tartary. [13]

He had been in Russia, in Germany, in Spain, and in Africa, and was familiar with the islands of the Mediterranean and those of the eastern Atlantic. Smith afterward wrote a narrative of his singularly full and adventurous life, not sparing, apparently, the embellishment which in his time seems to have been reckoned a natural feature of narrative art. The honesty of his statements has been doubted, perhaps to the point of injustice; and at the present time a reaction is to be seen which presents the writings of the sturdy old adventurer in a more favorable light. [6]

It was natural enough that such a daring rover should catch the spirit of enthusiasm with which the exploration and settlement of the New World had inflamed Englishmen of his time and type. And it was a recognition of his experience and practical sagacity which led to his appointment as a member of the Council at the head of affairs in the Jamestown colony. [12]

In so far as the literary accomplishments of Captain John Smith have any immediate connection with American history, our interest centres upon his True Relation of such occurrences and accidents of noate as hath hapned in Virginia since the first planting of that Collony, which is now resident in the South part thereof, till the last returne from thence (London, 1608).

Smith's writings are plain, blunt narratives, which please by their rough vigor and the breezy picturesqueness of his rugged, unaffected style. Hardly to be accounted literature except by way of compliment, the True Relation is not unworthy of its place in our literary record as the first English book produced in America. It supplies our earliest chronicle of the perils and hardships of our American pioneers. The romantic story of Pocahontas is found in its pages, briefly recounted by the writer in terms which hardly warrant its dismissal as a myth; and many another thrilling incident of that distressing struggle with the wilderness which makes a genuine appeal to the reader now, as it undoubtedly did to the kinsmen of the colonists in England for whom the book was originally prepared.

Other writings. [18]

Smith was the author of several other narrative and descriptive pamphlets in which he recounted the early history of the colonies at Plymouth and on Massachusetts Bay. Indeed, it was the redoubtable Captain who first gave to that part of the country the name New England; and to the little harbor on Cape Cod, before the coming of the Puritans, Smith had already given the name of Plymouth. In 1624, he published A General History of Virginia, a compilation edited in England from the reports of various writers. [18]

The record of Virginia's early struggles, its difficulties with the Indians, its depletion by illness and famine, its losses due to the incapacity of leaders and policies ill adapted to the conditions of a true colonial life, its reinforcements, its acquisition of colonists, its advancement in wealth and importance, ‐‐ this is familiar history. The remarkable fact is the rapidity with which the colony developed. In 1619, twelve hundred settlers arrived; along with them were sent one hundred convicts to become servants. Boys and girls, picked up in the London streets, were shipped to Virginia to be bound during their minority to the planters. In the same year a Dutch man‐of‐war landed twenty negroes at Jamestown, who were sold as slaves ‐‐ the first in America. The cultivation of tobacco became profitable, the plantations were extended, and new colonists were brought over in large numbers. Following the execution of Charles I, and the establishment of the Puritan Protectorate, hundreds of the exiled Cavaliers migrated to Virginia with their families and traditions. These new colonists stamped the character of the dominion that was to be. The best blood of England was thus infused into the new enterprise, and the spirit of the South was determined. In 1650, the population of Virginia was 15,000; twenty years later, it was 40,000. [6]

Yet the southern soil did not prove favorable to literary growth. English books were, of course, brought into the colony, and private libraries were to be found here and there in the homes of the wealthy. There were no free schools in Virginia, and but few private schools. The children of the planters received instruction under tutors in their own homes, of were sent to England for their education. For fear of seditious literature, printing‐presses were forbidden by the king. In 1671, Governor Berkeley declared: [7]


1.3 Early American and Colonial Period to 1776
American literature begins with the orally transmitted myths, legends, tales, and lyrics (always songs) of Indian cultures. [4]

There was no written literature among the more than 500 different Indian languages and tribal cultures that existed in North America before the first Europeans arrived. As a result, Native American oral literature is quite diverse. Narratives from quasi‐nomadic hunting cultures like the Navajo are different from stories of settled agricultural tribes such as the pueblo‐dwelling Acoma; the stories of northern lakeside dwellers such as the Ojibwa often differ radically from stories of desert tribes like the Hopi. [4]

Tribes maintained their own religions ‐‐ worshipping gods, animals, plants, or sacred persons. Systems of government ranged from democracies to councils of elders to theocracies. These tribal variations enter into the oral literature as well. [4]

Still, it is possible to make a few generalizations. Indian stories, for example, glow with reverence for nature as a spiritual as well as physical mother. Nature is alive and endowed with spiritual forces; main characters may be animals or plants, often totems associated with a tribe, group, or individual. The closest to the Indian sense of holiness in later American literature is Ralph Waldo Emerson's transcendental "Over‐Soul," which pervades all of life. The Mexican tribes revered the divine Quetzalcoatl, a god of the Toltecs and Aztecs, and some tales of a high god or culture were told elsewhere. However, there are no long, standardized religious cycles about one supreme divinity. [5] The closest equivalents to Old World spiritual narratives are often accounts of shamans initiations and voyages. Apart from these, there are stories about culture heroes such as the Ojibwa tribe's Manabozho or the Navajo tribe's Coyote. These tricksters are treated with varying degrees of respect. In one tale they may act like heroes, while in another they may seem selfish or foolish. Although past authorities, such as the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, have deprecated trickster tales as expressing the inferior, amoral side of the psyche, contemporary scholars‐ some of them Native Americans ‐point out that Odysseus and Prometheus, the revered Greek heroes, are essentially tricksters as well. [4]

Examples of almost every oral genre can be found in American Indian literature: lyrics, chants, myths, fairy tales, humorous anecdotes, incantations, riddles, proverbs, epics, and legendary histories. Accounts of migrations and ancestors abound, as do vision or healing songs and tricksters' tales. Certain creation stories are particularly popular. In one well known creation story, told with variations among many tribes, [3] a turtle holds up the world. In a Cheyenne version, the creator, Maheo, has four chances to fashion the world from a watery universe. He sends four water birds diving to try to bring up earth from the bottom. The snow goose, loon, and mallard soar high into the sky and sweep down in a dive, but cannot reach bottom; but the little coot, who cannot fly, succeeds in bringing up some mud in his bill. Only one creature, humble Grandmother Turtle, is the right shape to support the mud world Maheo shapes on her shell - hence the Indian name for America, "Turtle Island." [3]

The songs or poetry, like the narratives, range from the sacred to the light and humorous: There are lullabies, war chants, love songs, and special songs for children's games, gambling, various chores, magic, or dance ceremonials. Generally the songs are repetitive. Short poem‐songs given in dreams sometimes have the clear imagery and subtle mood associated with Japanese haiku or Eastern‐influenced imagistic poetry. A Chippewa song runs:

A loon I thought it was

But it was

My love's

splashing oar.

Vision songs, often very short, are another distinctive form. Appearing in dreams or visions, sometimes with no warning, they may be healing, hunting, or love songs. Often they are personal, as in this Modoc song: [3]

I the song

I walk here.

Indian oral tradition and its relation to American literature as a whole is one of the richest and least explored topics in American studies. The Indian contribution to America is greater than is often believed. The hundreds of Indian words in everyday American English include "canoe," "tobacco," "potato," "moccasin," "moose," "persimmon," "raccoon," "tomahawk," and "totem." Contemporary Native American writing also contains works of great beauty. [2]

After 1680 large numbers of immigrants came from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland and France; and England ceased to be the chief source of immigration. Again, the new settlers came for various reasons. Thousands fled from Germany to escape the path of war. Many left Ireland to avoid the poverty induced by government oppression and absentee‐landlordism, and from Scotland and Switzerland, too, people came fleeing the specter of poverty. By 1690, the American population had risen to a quarter of a million. From then on, it doubled every 25 years until, in 1775, it numbered more than two and a half million. [4]

For the most part, non‐English colonists adapted themselves to the culture of the original settlers. But this did not mean that all settlers transformed themselves into Englishmen. True, they adopted the English language and law and many English customs, but only as these had been modified by conditions in America. The result was a unique culture‐a blend of English and continental European conditioned by the environment of the New World. [5]

Although a man and his family could move from Massachusetts to Virginia or from South Carolina to Pennsylvania, without making many basic readjustments, distinctions between individual colonies were marked. They were even more marked between regional groups of colonies. [6]

The settlements fell into fairly well‐defined sections determined by geography. In the south, with its warm climate and fertile soil, a predominately agrarian society developed. New England in the northeast, a glaciated area strewn with boulders, was inferior farm country, with generally thin, stony soil, relatively little level land, short summers, and long winters. Turning to other pursuits, the New Englanders harnessed water power and established gristmills and sawmills. [7]

Good stands of timber encouraged shipbuilding. Excellent harbors promoted trade, and the sea became a source of great wealth. In Massachusetts, the cod industry alone quickly furnished a basis for prosperity. [6]

Settling in villages and towns around the harbors, New Englanders quickly adopted an urban existence, many of them carrying on some trade or business. Common pastureland and common wood‐lots served the needs of townspeople, who worked small farms nearby. Compactness made possible the village school, the village church, and the village or town hall, where citizens met to discuss matters of common interest. Sharing hardships, cultivating the same rocky soil, pursuing Had history taken a different turn, the United States easily could have been a part of the great Spanish or French overseas empires. Its present inhabitants might speak Spanish and form one nation with Mexico, or speak French and be joined with Canadian Francophone Quebec and Montreal. [14]

Yet the earliest explorers of America were not English, Spanish, or French. The first European record of exploration in America is in a Scandinavian language. The Old Norse Vinland Saga recounts how the adventurous Leif Eriksson and a band of wandering Norsemen settled briefly somewhere on the northeast coast of America ‐probably Nova Scotia, in Canada - in the first decade of the 11th century, almost 400 years before the next recorded European discovery of the New World. [14]

The first known and sustained contact between the Americas and the rest of the world, however, began with the famous voyage of an Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, funded by the Spanish rulers Ferdinand and Isabella. Columbus's journal in his "Epistola," printed in 1493, recounts the trip's drama - the terror of the men, who feared monsters and thought they might fall off the edge of the world; the near‐mutiny; how Columbus faked the ships' logs so the men would not know how much farther they had travelled than anyone had gone before; and the first sighting of land as they neared America. [15]

Bartolomé de las Casas is the richest source of information about the early contact between American Indians and Europeans. As a young priest he helped conquer Cuba. He transcribed Columbus's journal, and late in life wrote a long, vivid History of the Indians criticizing their enslavement by the Spanish.

Initial English attempts at colonization were disasters. The first colony was set up in 1585 at Roanoke, off the coast of North Carolina; all its colonists disappeared, and to this day legends are told about blue‐eyed Croatan Indians of the area. The second colony was more permanent: Jamestown, established in 1607. It endured starvation, brutality, and misrule. [15]

However, the literature of the period paints America in glowing colors as the land of riches and opportunity. Accounts of the colonizations became world‐renowned. The exploration of Roanoke was carefully recorded by Thomas Hariot in A Briefe and True Report of the New‐Found Land of Virginia (1588). Hariot's book was quickly translated into Latin, French, and German; the text and pictures were made into engravings and widely republished for over 200 years. [15]

The Jamestown colony's main record, the writings of Captain John Smith, one of its leaders, is the exact opposite of Hariot's accurate, scientific account. Smith was an incurable romantic, and he seems to have embroidered his adventures.

To him we owe the famous story of the Indian maiden, Pocahontas. Whether fact or fiction, the tale is ingrained in the American historical imagination. The story recounts how Pocahontas, favorite daughter of Chief Powhatan, saved Captain Smith's life when he was a prisoner of the chief. Later, when the English persuaded Powhatan to give Pocahontas to them as a hostage, her gentleness, intelligence, and beauty impressed the English, and, in 1614, she married John Rolfe, an English gentleman. The marriage initiated an eight‐year peace between the colonists and the Indians, ensuring the survival of the struggling new colony. [17]

In the 17th century, pirates, adventurers, and explorers opened the way to a second wave of permanent colonists, bringing their wives, children, farm implements, and craftsmen's tools. The early literature of exploration, made up of diaries, letters, travel journals, ships' logs, and reports to the explorers' financial backers ‐‐ European rulers or, in mercantile England and Holland, joint stock companies ‐‐ gradually was supplanted by records of the settled colonies.

Because England eventually took possession of the North American colonies, the best‐known and most‐anthologized colonial literature is English. As American minority literature continues to flower in the 20th century and American life becomes increasingly multicultural, scholars are rediscovering the importance of the continent's mixed ethnic heritage. [17]

Although the story of literature now turns to the English accounts, it is important to recognize its richly cosmopolitan beginnings.

  1   2   3   4


The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2016
send message

    Main page