Mark Twain And Carol Sandburg There have been a number of influences that have shaped American literature. From the time that Western Europeans founded the country to the inclusion of Native American lore to the contributions of such literary giants as Mark Twain and Carol Sandburg, the composition of American Literature has been both constant and ever changing. In deed as much as America, itself, is a melting pot of diversity within a cultural concern, so too is this considerable diversity a significant aspect of its emerging literature. Grantland S. Rice, author of The Transformation of Authorship in America, contends that the ultimate composition of American literature is fundamentally based upon a combination of efforts involving gender, class, period and application.
What is particualy, interesting about Rices observations is the manner in which he applies his theories to literary considerations. According to Rice, there were a great many influences that constructed American literature up through modern times; as much as writers were increasingly forced by social, political and economic changes (Rice 159), it was because of these modifications that the literary experience gained in substance. In their attempts to uphold civic virtue, early writers no doubt turned to the audience through whom they felt they could still effect significant cultural changes (Rice 159). It is this very determination and knowledge of craft that eventually aided in the efforts of countless writers — both men and women — to establish American literature as it has come to be known: The story I till here is thus far from the usual one of the progress or rise of American literature, an account which has come from an almost exclusive on the continuity of literary forms and the influence of the aesthetic heritage of Romanticism. (Rice 12) Inasmuch as Rice attributes lifes influences as an integral component of American literature, so too does one of Americas greatest authors: Mark Twain.
His Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, thought to be too racy for its own period, has always been received with mixed acceptance even in contemporary times. Capturing the American soul at its utmost depths, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn touches upon a number of unprecedented issues because of the shock value such a book portrays, it has been both embraced and banned for its content. However, it is this very content that has made it one of the most essential aspects of American Literature, as Twain was not afraid to depict America without rose-colored glasses. It has been called offensive, unpatriotic, racist and a whole host of other uncomplimentary terms; however, it has been and continues to be instrumental in describing the sometimes unsavory truth, As the author so eloquently stated to America: This is how you are, like it or not (Smith). As difficult as it has been for Americans to accept the fact that Twains account mirrors a harsh reality, the implications of such social atrocities as racism are painfully clear both in written representation as will as in real life. In fact, it can be argued that Adventures of Huckleberry Finn not only symbolizes what it means to be part of the American literary framework, but it also exemplifies the manner in which art truly imitates life.
As essential as Twain was in establishing the very basis of American literature, he was also instrumental in addressing issues which were and are still considered to be beyond the realm of acceptance. Although Adventures of Huckleberry Finn makes free use of the word nigger, it is not utilized in the same context it is today; by comparison, the author meant it only as a description, as opposed to contemporary usage that focuses solely upon the words disgracing aspect. Inasmuch as Mark Twain weaved his literary magic in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to depict American truisms, Carl Sandburg was just as much a fundamental part of the same patchwork. Sandburgs writing addresses many of the same concepts as does Twains with regard to the human condition, even encouraging people to recognize themselves within his prose. Characteristic of Sandburgs style is his approach to everyday existence as though it were a matter of life and death. In a way it was just that, as the astute author wrote of lifes battles and the difficulties surrounding just staying alive. His works reflects compassion and empathy that easily translates from the written page in such a way that clearly associates him with the foundation of American literature.
They tell me you were wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys. And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again. (Sandburg 44) Sandburgs recognition of working girls, hungry men and wondering children represent a staple in the American literary diet. The authors calculated ability to assess the human condition is integral to his overall importance in American literature; to be sure, there have been many more explosive writers who have helped shape Americas literary landscape, but few have truly captured the essence as well as Sandburg. His talent to make the most simplistic and mundane stand out as extraordinary is indicative of his inherent contribution to American literature. A man saw the whole world as a grinning skull and cross-bones.
The rose flesh of life shriveled from all faces. Nothing counts. Everything is fake. Dust to dust and ashes to ashes and then an old darkness and a useless silence. So he saw it all. (Sandburg 110) In spite of their success, men have not been the only ones who have helped influence American literature.
The famous, as well as the unknown, have graced page after page with eloquence and education so as to move forward such an important literary concept. With the worlds very first writer having said to be a woman, it is no surprise to find some of the most influential American literary works have derived from the fairer gender. High priestless Enheduanna was to have possessed such an intensity about her that she was the representationof the fierce female energy found in spiritual traditions throughout the world (Halio, Siegal 72). Following in such grand style, women of modern literature have also led with such fierceness in an attempt to cast the same broad brush of Americana as the men have so successfully achieved. The inherent obstacles women have faced in the literary world, just by the virtue of being women, have given way to an abundance of influential, well respected and accomplished female writers. Their inspiration upon American literature has been nothing short of spectacular as the overwhelming odds and obstacles of the past have grown less stringent for those women who strive for literary expression (Halio, Siegal 30).
Indeed, the innumerable contributions to American literature stand out as considerable and for-reaching. By assessing the various factors each component has brought to the overall composition, it is easily arguable that American literature is a compilation of many foreign entities that ultimately embrace and represent the American way WorksCited Geography.