31 terms

Important Authors in American Literature

Influential American Authors for ELHS Academic Team
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F. Scott Fitzgerald
an American novelist and short story writer, whose works illustrate the Jazz Age. He is considered a member of the "Lost Generation" of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night.
J. D. Salinger
The success of his 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye caused much public attention. After that he led a very private life for more than a half-century.
John Steinbeck
The Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939)[2] is considered his masterpiece. In the first 75 years after it was published, it sold 14 million copies.
Toni Morrison
a 1993 Nobel Prize- winning Afro-American novelist. Among her best known novels are 'The Bluest Eye (about an Afro-American girl Pecola who gets taunted for her appearance as the members of her community associate beauty with "whiteness". She ultimately develops an inferiority complex, which fuels her desire for blue eyes.) 'Song of Solomon,' 'Beloved' and 'A Mercy.'
William Faulkner
Modernism; one of the most celebrated writers in American literature generally and Southern literature specifically. The Sound and the Fury; As I Lay Dying; Absalom, Absalom!
Ernest Hemingway
Modernism; Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea (1952), he went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in two successive plane crashes that left him in pain or ill health for much of his remaining life. He killed himself in mid-1961.
Kurt Vonnegut
He is most famous for his darkly satirical, best-selling novel Slaughterhouse-Five (1969).
Jack Kerouac
a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Thematically, his work covers topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel. In 1969, aged 47, Kerouac died from internal bleeding due to long-term alcohol abuse. Novel On the Road.
Jack London
Naturalism - he was part of the radical literary group "The Crowd" in San Francisco and a passionate advocate of unionization, socialism, and the rights of workers. The Call of the Wild; White Fang; To Build a Fire
Upton Sinclair
Modernism - In 1906, he acquired particular fame for his classic scandalous novel The Jungle, which exposed labor and sanitary conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry, causing a public uproar.
Truman Capote
an American novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and actor, many of whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized as literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's (1958) and the true crime novel In Cold Blood (1966).
William S. Burroughs
In 1943, while living in New York City, he befriended Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, and out of their mutual influence grew the foundation of the Beat Generation, which had later a defining influence on the 1960s counterculture. He found success with his confessional first novel, Junkie (1953), but he is perhaps best known for his third novel Naked Lunch (1959)
Edgar Allan Poe
A central figure of Romanticism, he is generally considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. Famous for his 1845 poem The Raven and tales The Fall of the House of Usher; The Pit and the Pendulum
Emily Dickinson
Romanticism (poet); never married, and most of her friendships depended entirely upon correspondence. Because I Could Not Stop for Death; I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died
Herman Melville
an American novelist, short story writer, and poet of the American Renaissance period. Moby Dick; Billy Bud
Henry David Thoreau
A leading transcendentalist, he is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings and his essay "Civil Disobedience".
Anne Bradstreet
The first figure in Puritan/Colonnial Literature. Poems My Dear and Loving Husband; Some Verses on the Burning of My House
Nathaniel Hawthorne
He was a dark Romantic; The Scarlet Letter (1850)
Mark Twain
Realism - Regionalism; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)
Tennessee Williams
an American playwright who suddenly became famous with The Glass Menagerie (1944). Later plays: Streetcar Named Desire; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Virginia Woolf
Influential feminist, and a major stylistic innovator associated with the stream-of-consciousness technique. Novels include Mrs Dalloway 1925, To the Lighthouse 1927.
Ezra Pound
1885 - 1972. American modernist, Imagist poet: aim was clarity: a fight against abstraction, romanticism, rhetoric, inversion of word order, and over-use of adjectives. Ex: The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.
John Smith
wrote histories of Virginia based on his experiences as an English explorer and a president of the Jamestown Colony. These histories, published in 1608 and 1624, are among the earliest works of American literature.
Anne Bradstreet
wrote The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America (1650) may be the earliest collection of poetry written in and about America, although it was published in England.
Olaudah Equiano
wrote an autobiography, The Interesting Narrative (1789), was among the earliest slave narratives and a forceful argument for abolition.
Phillis Wheatley
an African woman enslaved in Boston, wrote the first African American book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773). Philip Fren
Washington Irving
published the collection of short stories and essays The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in 1819-20. It included "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle," two of the earliest American short stories.
James Fenimore Cooper
wrote novels of adventure about the frontiersman Natty Bumppo. These novels, called the Leatherstocking Tales (1823-41), depict his experiences in the American wilderness in both realistic and highly romanticized ways.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
was an African American writer who wrote poetry in black dialect—"Possum," "When de Co'n Pone's Hot"—that were popular with his white audience and gave them what they believed was reality for black Americans. Dunbar also wrote poems not in dialect—"We Wear the Mask," "Sympathy"—that exposed the reality of racism in America during Reconstruction and afterward.
Henry James
shared the view of the realists and naturalists that literature ought to present reality, but his writing style and use of literary form sought to also create an aesthetic experience, not simply document truth. He was preoccupied with the clash in values between the United States and Europe. His writing shows features of both 19th-century realism and naturalism and 20th-century modernism. Some of his notable novels are The American (1877) and The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
T.S. Eliot
an American by birth and, as of 1927, a British subject by choice. His fragmentary, multivoiced The Waste Land (1922) is the quintessential modernist poem, but his was not the dominant voice among American modernist poets.

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