UNIT SIX POST WORLD WAR II
American Prose Since 1945: Realism and Experimentation Narrative since World War II resists generalization: It is extremely various and multifaceted. It has been vitalized by international currents such as European existentialism and Latin American magical realism, while the electronic era has brought the global village. The spoken word on television has given new life to oral tradition. Oral genres, media, and popular culture have increasingly influenced narrative.
MAIN aUTHORS Robert Penn Warren 1905-1989 Arthur Miller 1915-2005 LillianHellman 1906-1984 Tennessee Williams 1911-1983 Katherine AnnePorter 1890-1980 EudoraWelty 1909-2001
THE 1950 • John O’hara 1905-1970 • James Baldwin 1924-1987 • Ralph Ellison 1914-1994 • Flannery O’ Connor 1925-1964 • SaulBellow 1915-2005 • Bernard Malamud 1914-1986 • Isaac Bashevis Singer 1904-1991 • Vladimir Nabokov 1889-1977 • John Cheever 1912-1982 • John Updike 1932 • J.D. Salinger 1919 • Jack Kerouac 1922--1969
Theturbulenntbutcreative 1960s The alienation and stress underlying the 1950s found outward expression in the 1960s in the United States in the Civil Rights Movement, feminism, antiwar protests, minority activism, and the arrival of a counterculture whose effects are still being worked through American society. Notable political and social works of the era include the speeches of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the early writings of feminist leader Betty Friedan (The Feminine Mystique, 1963), and Norman Mailer's The Armies of the Night (1968), about a 1967 antiwar march.
Mainauthors Thomas Pynchon 1937 John Barth 1930 Norman Mailer 1923 Philip Roth 1933
Southernwriters Southern writing of the l960s tended, like the then still largely agrarian southern region, to adhere to time-honored traditions. It remained rooted in realism and an ethical, if not religious, vision during this decade of radical change. Recurring southern themes include family, the family home, history, the land, religion, guilt, identity, death, and the search for redemptive meaning in life.
THE 1970s AND 1980s: CONSOLIDATION By the mid-1970s, an era of consolidation had begun. The Vietnam conflict was over, followed soon afterward by U.S. recognition of the People's Republic of China and America's bicentennial celebration. Soon the 1980s -- the "Me Decade" in Tom Wolfe's phrase -- ensued, in which individuals tended to focus more on personal concerns than on larger social issues.
Mainauthors E.L. Doctorow 1931 William Styron 1925-2006 John gardner 1933-1982 Joyce Carol Oates 1938 Toni Morrison 1931 Alice Walker 1944
THE RISE OF MULTIETHNIC FICTION Jewish-American writers like Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud Asian Americans also took their place on the scene. Maxine Hong Kingston, author of The Woman Warrior (1976), the Latino-American writers, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Oscar Hijuelos, the Cuban-born author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love (1989). James Welch (1940-2003) detailed the struggles of Native Americans in his slender, nearly flawless novels Winter in the Blood (1974),
AMERICAN DRAMA After World War I, popular and lucrative musicals had increasingly dominated the Broadway theatrical scene. Serious theater retreated to smaller, less expensive theaters "off Broadway" or outside New York City.
MAIN AUTHORS Edward Albee 1928 AmiriBaraka 1934 Sam Shepard 1943 David Mamet 1947 David Rabe 1940 August Wilson 1945-2005
Contemporaryamericanliterature Literature in the United States today is likewise dazzlingly diverse, exciting, and evolving. New voices have arisen from many quarters, challenging old ideas and adapting literary traditions to suit changing conditions of the national life. Social and economicadvanceshaveenabledpreviouslyunderrepresentedgroupstoexpress themselves more fully, while technological innovations have created a fast-movingpublicforum.
AccordingtoPublishers Weekly, 2001 was the first year that Christian-themed books topped the sales lists in both fiction and nonfiction. Among the hardcover best-sellers of that exemplary Sunday in 2006, we find Dan Brown's novel The DaVinci Code and Anne Rice's tale Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.
The short story: new directions Raymond Carver (l938-l988) had studied under the late novelist John Gardner, absorbing Gardner’s passion for accessible artistry fused with moral vision. Carver rose above alcoholism and harsh poverty to become the most influential story writer in the United States. In his Collections Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? (l976), What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (l981), Cathedral (l983), and Where I’m Calling From (l988), Carver follows confused working people through dead-end jobs, alcoholic binges, and rented rooms with an understated, minimalist style of writing that carries tremendousimpact.
The short shortstory: suddenor flash fiction The short short is a very brief story, often only one or two pages long. It is sometimes called “flash fiction” or “sudden fiction” After the l986 anthology Sudden Fiction, edited by Robert Shapard and James Thomas. In short short stories, there is little space to develop a character. Rather, the element of plot is central: A crisis occurs, and a sketched-in character simply has to react.
Drama Contemporary drama minglesrealism with fantasy in Postmodern works that fuse the personal and the political. The exuberant Tony Kushner (l956- ) has won acclaim for his prize-winning Angels in America plays, which vividly render the AIDS epidemic and the psychic cost of closeted homosexuality in the 1980s and 1990s.
Regionalism • TheNortheast • TheMid-Atlantic • The South • TheMidwest • The Mountain West • TheSouthwest • California Literature • TheNorthwest