American Literature is a rich and varied tradition of writing, both fiction and non-fiction, that has been produced by American authors throughout history. It encompasses some of the greatest works ever written in any language, including those by authors such as Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickinson and Toni Morrison.American Literature dates back to the first settlers who arrived in the early 1600s and includes a diverse range of genres such as fiction, poetry, drama and essays. Early writers like William Bradford wrote about their experiences as they arrived in America. Later writers included figures like Benjamin Franklin who wrote about science and politics while also writing satirical pieces such as Poor Richard’s Almanac. Writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne helped shape the American Romantic movement with his works The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables while other authors like Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick which is considered one of the greatest novels ever written. The 20th century saw an explosion of American literature with writers such as F Scott Fitzgerald exploring themes of loss and disillusionment in their works such as The Great Gatsby while others like Ernest Hemingway explored themes related to war with titles like A Farewell to Arms. Other important 20th century American authors include Harper Lee whose To Kill a Mockingbird became a classic work addressing issues related to racism in America; Saul Bellow whose Adventures of Augie March won him the Nobel Prize for Literature; John Steinbeck whose Of Mice and Men was another classic literary work; J D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye which explored teenage rebellion; Toni Morrison’s Beloved which addressed issues related to slavery; John Updike’s Rabbit series which followed Harry Rabbit Angstrom through his life; Raymond Carver who wrote stories on everyday life; Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow focusing on World War II among other topics; Don DeLillo’s White Noise addressing consumerism among other topics. Today there are still many great contemporary American authors producing wonderful literature that captures what it means to be an American today including Sherman Alexie who writes about Native Americans living on reservations in books such as The Lone Ranger & Tonto Fistfight In Heaven or Louise Erdrich who writes about different generations from her own Chippewa tribe in books such as Love Medicine or Junot Diaz whose Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao explores Dominican-American culture through its protagonist Oscar De Leon. These are just some examples among many more contemporary American authors producing excellent literature today that captures what it means to be an American today including Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale or Jennifer Egan’s Pulitzer prize winning A Visit From The Goon Squad examining modern society through its characters’ lives or Cormac McCarthy’s post apocalyptic novel The Road exploring hope despite hopeless circumstances all exemplifying how powerful literature can be at reflecting our times not just those from centuries past but right now too.
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