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Additional resources for An Outline of American Literature (PENG)

Sample text

After a hundred years, the carriage collapses ! : . . went to pieces, all at once, All at once, and nothing f rst, Just as bubbles do when they burst. Holmes was also the author of several novels, each centered around an unusual medical problem. Because of such themes, he called them 9 10 I I autocrat, a single person with the power to rule. light oerse, poetry without a (very) serious purpose. collapse, fall to pieces. "Birdojredom Sawin, with only one leg to stand upon" Jrontispiece illustration Jor an [859 edition oj Lowell's Biglow Papers James Russell Lowell "medicated novels" .

Unlike Howells and the naturalists, he was not interested in business, politics or the conditions of society. He was an observer of the mind rather than a recorder of the times. His realism was a special kind of psychological realism. Few of his stories include big events or exciting action. In fact, the characters in his last ( and finest) novels rarely do anything at all. Things happen to them, but not as a result oftheir own actions. They watch life more than they live it. We are interested in how their minds respond to the events of the story.

A uneven Dickinson's own Calvinist childhood gave her this way oflooking at life in terms o[ death. In nineteenth-century America, with its steam engines and big factory chimneys, such a view probably seemed old­ fashioned. It did, however, allow her to see things freshly. As one recent critic notices, she seems to be looking at the world "for the first and last time " . Although she rejected her family's old-fashioned religion early i n life, she made the "search for faith" one o f the great themes of her work.

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