The 20th century is called the boom of the literature of the USA. The great depression, two world wars, and the struggle against racial discrimination are the most common problems displayed in the classic works of American authors.
The radical economic and social changes in Americans’ lives between the 1920s and 1930s were the ideal foundation for realism.
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Yet, if you still want to know who deserves to be called the most influential American writers of all times and why, keep reading!
The most famous work of Theodore Dreiser is “An American Tragedy” (1925). It is a story about a young American, spoilt by false moral principles of the United States. These have, in the end, made him a criminal and a murderer.
The novel reflects the American way of life, in which the poverty of workers is presented versus the prosperity of a privileged class.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most prominent American writers of the so-called lost generation. His main novels were published between 1920 and 1934, including “This Side of Paradise”, “The Great Gatsby”, and “Tender Is the Night” (1934).
His works are a masterpiece of world literature. The central theme of almost all of Fitzgerald’s works was the corrupting power of money, which leads to spiritual decay.
William Faulkner is a representative of Southern American literature authors. In his books, he condemned racism and violence against African Americans. Most of his psychological novels are based on the Civil War times.
His best works are a trilogy of novels “The Village”, “The City” and “The Mansion” dedicated to the tragic fate of the aristocracy of the American South.
John Ernst Steinbeck is an American prose writer and a well-known author of novels “East of Eden”, “Of Mice and Men”, and “Red Pony”. His diverse, realistic, and creative writing helped him win the Nobel Prize in literature in 1962.
This author needs no introductions. Ernest Hemingway is also a Nobel Prize winner as well as one of the most readable writers of the 20th century. His writing style is quite controversial. It is concise and doesn’t involve many embellishments to amaze the reader.
Yet, he managed to do it and stand out. Often, readers find out the plot from the dialogues between characters which is rarely expected by the audience. The technique has, nevertheless, appeared to be effective in shaping the mood of the story.
Ernest Hemingway’s works are considered classics of American and world literature. He was a fighter for freedom, standing up against wars and fascism, and not only through literary works.
His most famous works include but not limited to:
- “For Whom the Bell Tolls”;
- “The Old Man and the Sea”;
- “The Sun Also Rises”;
- “A Farewell to Arms”.
Edgar Allan Poe
Except for being a writer and poet, Edgar Allan Poe also engaged in literary criticism and was a representative of American romanticism. His most famous works include horror stories with elements of suspense.
Poe was one of the first American writers who resorted to the format of a short story. He is also considered to be the creator of the detective fiction genre in literature.
Mark Twain has devoted many of his books to the theme of adventures. At the peak of his writing career, he traveled a lot and visited England, Australia, Africa, and Europe.
Mark Twain created an autobiographical novel – “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, – which is based on the author’s childhood memories. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is another incredibly popular novel authored by this writer.
The famous collection of poems “Leaves of Grass” was new to the audience to accept it at a go. It evoked many controversies and influenced Whitman’s career significantly.
Despite the criticism, Whitman has received national recognition as the first democratic poet in the USA.
Kurt Vonnegut is a satirist and artist. Although he was born in Indianapolis, he was honored as “The Writer of the State of New York” in 2001-2003.
He considered himself a humanist and socialist, a follower of Eugene Debs’ ideas. In 1997, he published the novel “Timequake” which became one of the most prominent ones in American literature of the 20th century.
Cormac McCarthy is a dramatist and novelist. In September 2009, a movie based on McCarthy’s latest work – the novel “The Road” – was released. It won the most prestigious literary award in the US – the Pulitzer Prize.
Ray Bradbury is a science fiction author of more than 800 literary works. The most famous works of the writer are the utopia “Fahrenheit 451” and the autobiographical novel “Dandelion Wine”.
Even in his later years, Bradbury continued writing. At the age of 79, he suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.