4. 应用：《论自然》节选：爱默生的基本哲 学思想及自然观
Chapter l The Romantic Period
1.The origin of Romantic American literature
The Romantic Period， one of the most important periods in the history of American literature， stretches from the end of the 18th century to the outbreak of the Civil War. It started with the publication of Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book and ended with Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
2.The American Renaissance or New England Renaissance is a period of the great flowering of American literature， from the i830s roughly until the end of the American Civil War. It came of age as an expression of a national spirit. One of the most important influences in the period was that of the Transcendentalists， including Ralph Waldo Emerson， Henry David Thoreau. The Transcendentalists contributed to the founding of a new national culture based on native elements. Apart from the Transcendentalists， there emerged during this period great imaginative writers ——Nathaniel Hawthorne， Herman Melville， and Walt Whitman——whose novels and poetry left a permanent imprint on American literature.
3.Its social historical and cultural background
The development of the American society nurtured "the literature of a great nation." America was flourishing into a politically， economically and culturally independent country. Historically， it was the time of westward expansion in America economically， the whole nation was experiencing an industrial transformation. Politically， democracy and equa1ity became the ideal of the new nation， and the two-party system came into being. Worthy of mention is the literary and cultural life of the country. With the founding of the American Independent Government， the nation felt an urge to have its own literary expression， to make known its new experience that other nations did not have： the early Puritan settlement， the confrontation with the Indians， the frontiersmen''''''''s life， and the wild west. Besides， the nation’s literary milieu was ready for the Romantic movement as we11. Thus， with a strong sense of optimism， a spectacular outburst of romantic feeling was brought about in the first ha1f of the 19th century.
4.Major writers of this period
There emerged a great host of men of letters during this period， among whom the better-known are poets such as Philip Freneau， William Cullen Bryant， Henry Wordsworth Long Fellow， James Russel Lowell， John Greenleaf Whitter， Edgar Ellen Poe， and， especially， Walt Whitman， whose Leaves Of Grass established him as the most popular American poet of the 19th century. The fiction of the American Romantic period is an original and diverse body of work. It ranges from the comic fables of Washington Irving to the The Gothic tales of Edgar Allen Poe， from the frontier adventures of James Fenimore Cooper to the narrative quests of Herman Melville， from the psycho1ogical romances of Nathaniel Hawthorne to the social realism of Rebecca Harding Davis.
1.The impact of European Romanticism on American Romanticism
Foreign literary masters， especially the English counterparts exerted a stimulating impact on the writers of the new world. Born of one common cultural heritage， the American writers shared some common features with the English Romanticists. They revolted against the literary forms and ideas of the period of classicism by developing some relatively new forms of fiction or poetry.
（1） They put emphasis upon the imaginative and emotional qualities of literature， which included a liking for the picturesque， the exotic， the sensuous， the sensational， and the supernatural.
（2） The Americans also placed an increasing emphasis on the free expression of emotions and disp1ayed an increasing attention to the psychic states of their characters. Heroes and heroines exhibited extremes of sensitivity and excitement.
（3） The strong tendency to exalt the individual and the common man was almost a national religion in America. Writers like Freneau， Bryant， and Cooper showed a great interest in external nature in their respective works.
（4） The literary use of the more colorfu1 aspects of the past was also to be found in Irving’s effort to exploit the legends of the Hudson River region， and in Cooper’s long series of historical tales.
（5） In short， American Romanticism is， in a certain way， derivative.
2.The unique characteristics of American Romanticism
Although greatly influenced by their English counterparts， the American romantic writers revealed unique characteristics of their own in their works and they grew on the native lands. For examp1e，（1） the American national experience of "pioneering into the west" proved to be a rich source of material for American writers to draw upon. They celebrated America''''''''s landscape with its virgin forests， meadows， groves， endless prairies， streams， and vast oceans. The wilderness came to function almost as a dramatic character that symbolized moral 1aw. （2）The desire for an escape from society and a return to nature became a permanent convention of American literature. Such a desire is particularly evident in Cooper’s Leather Stocking Tales， in Thoreau''''''''s Walden and， later， in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. （3） With the growth of American national consciousness， American character types speaking local dialects appeared in poetry and fiction with increasing frequency. （4） Then the American Puritanism as a cultural heritage exerted great influences over American moral values and American Romanticism. One of the manifestations is the fact that American romantic writers tended more to moralize than their English and European counterparts. （5） Besides， a preoccupation with the Calvinistic view of origina1 sin and the mystery of evil marked the works of Hawthorne， Melville and a host of lesser writers.
1. The American Puritanism and its great influence over American moral values， as is shown in American romantic writings.
（1） American Puritanism
Puritanism is the practices and beliefs of the Puritans. （The Puritans were originally members of a division of the Protestant Church， who came into existence in the reigns Queen Elizabeth and King James Ⅰ。The first settlers who became the founding fathers of the American nation were quite a few of them Puritans. They came to America out of various reasons， but it should be remembered that they were a group of serious， religious people， advocating highly religious and moral principles. As the word itself hints， Puritans wanted to purify their religious beliefs and practices. They felt that the Church of England was too close to the Church of Rome in doctrine form of worship， and organization of authority.） The American Puritans， like their brothers back in England， were idealists， believing that the church should be restored to complete "purity". They accepted the doctrine of predestination， original sin and total depravity， and limited atonement through a special infusion of grace from God. But in the grim struggle for survival that followed immediately after their arrival in America， they became more and more practical， as indeed they had to be. Puritans were noted for a spirit of moral and religious earnestness that determinated their whole way of life. Puritans'''''''' lives were extremely disciplined and hard. They drove out of their settlements all those opinions that seemed dangerous to them， and history has criticized their actions. Yet in the persecution of what they considered error， the Puritans were no worse than many other movements in history. As a culture heritage， Puritanism did have a profound influence on the early American mind and American values. American Puritanism also had a conspicuously noticeable and an enduring influence on American literature. It had become， to some extent， so much a state of mind， so much a part of the national cultural atmosphere， rather than a set of tenets.
（2） One of the manifestations is the fact that American romantic writers tended more to moralize than their English and European counterparts. Besides， a preoccupation with the Calvinistic view of origina1 sin and the mystery of evil marked the works of Hawthorne， Melville and a host of lesser writers.
2. New England Transcendentalism
New England Transcendentalism is the mot clearly defined Romantic literary movement in this period. It was started in the area around Concord， Mass. by a group of intellectual and the literary men of the United States such as Emerson， Henry David Thoreau who were members of an informal club， i. e. the Transcendental Club in New England in the l830s. The transcendentalists reacted against the cold， rigid rationalism of Unitarianism in Boston. They adhered to an idealistic system of thought based on a belief in the essential unity of all creation ， the innate goodness of man， and the supremacy of insight over logic and experience for the revelation of the deepest truths. The writings of the transcendentalists prepared the ground of their contemporaries such as Walt Whitman， Herman Melville， and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
The main issues involved in the debate were generally philosophical， concerning nature， man and the universe. Basically， Transcendentalism has been defined philosophical1y as "the recognition in man of the capacity of knowing truth intuitively， or of attaining knowledge transcending the reach of the senses." Emerson once proclaimed in a speech， "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind." Other concepts that accompanied Transcendentalism inc1ude the idea that nature is ennobling and the idea that the individual is divine and， therefore， self-re1iant.
3. American Romanticists differed in their understanding of human nature.
To the transcendentalists such as Emerson and Thoreau， man is divine in nature and therefore forever perfectible； but to Hawthorne and Melville， everybody is potentially a sinner， and great moral courage is therefore indispensab1e for the improvement of human nature， as is shown in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.