Literature( and theater)
   While the literature of the 1920s is mostly remembered for the “lost generation” of writers who were disaffected, alienated, and often out of the country, the 1930s in particular are remembered for the novels of social protest and social realism, some often having a “proletarian” emphasis. Chief among these is John Steinbeck’s depiction of the rural poor in Grapes of Wrath (1939), but also significant was James T. Farrell’s Studs Lonigan trilogy (1932-1935) and Erskine Caldwell’s depiction of southern poverty in Tobacco Road (1932). The southern emphasis was also evident in the body of writing by William Faulkner. Politics too seemed important, as indicated in Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here (1933) or Ernest Hemingway’s novel of the Spanish Civil War, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). One of the most powerful books of racial protest, Native Son by African American author Richard Wright, also appeared in 1940. But not all writing was intent on grim realism. Children’s author Laura Ingalls Wilder had enormous success with her Little House novels, especially Little House on the Prairie (1935), looking back on pioneer days, and Margaret Mitchell’s Civil War romance Gone with the Wind (1936) was a great hit both as a book and film.
   Some of the social themes examined by novelists were also explored by established playwright Eugene O’Neill in Ah, Wilderness! in 1933 and The Iceman Cometh, written in 1939 but staged in 1946. In 1936, O’Neill received the Nobel Prize for Literature for his work during the 1920s. Political comments can be found in Clifford Odets’s Waiting for Lefty (1935). Also significant is Lillian Hellman’s Children’s Hour (1934) and The Little Foxes (1939). The latter was made into a film in 1941 starring Bette Davis. Hellman was among those blacklisted during the period of McCarthyism in the 1950s, a theme that itself lay behind Arthur Miller’s postwar masterpiece The Crucible (1953). Miller had already established himself with earlier plays, especially Death of a Salesman (1949). The other major playwright of the period was Tennessee Williams, whose depiction of southern society in The Glass Menagerie (1944) and A Street Car Named Desire (1947) reflected similar concerns of Faulkner, of Eudora Welty in Delta Wedding (1946), and of Carson McCullers in The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941), and The Member of the Wedding (1946). A number of new literary figures emerged during World War II. War poets Randall Jarrell and Karl Shapiro, novelist John Hersey with the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Bell for Adano (1944), Irwin Shaw with The Young Lions (1948), Norman Mailer with The Naked and the Dead (1948), and James Jones with From Here to Eternity (1951) all dealt with the subject of war, while issues of Jewishness and general alienation were central concerns of Saul Bellow first in Dangling Man (1944) and then in The Victim (1947). Bellow became a major writer from the 1950s through the 1970s. Alienated youth began to appear in novels such as J. D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye (1951), while Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison’s literary masterpiece dealing with the alienation of African Americans, was published in 1952. More popular literature included the religious novels of Lloyd C. Douglas, like The Robe (1943), and the historical romance by Kathryn Winsor, Forever Amber (1944). Both of these were made into films.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Literature and The Holocaust —    The literature of the Holocaust consists of all the literary responses to the destruction of European Jewry, including survivor testimony, diaries of victims, memoirs of survivors, and documents collected by the Jewish community in the form of …   Historical dictionary of the Holocaust

  • THEATER — origins post biblical period FROM 1600 TO THE 20TH CENTURY england france germany italy holland russia united states jews in the musical the jew as entertainer yiddish theater premodern performance in yiddish haskalah drama broder singers the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • literature — /lit euhr euh cheuhr, choor , li treuh /, n. 1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays. 2.… …   Universalium

  • Literature of Nicaragua — The Literature of Nicaragua can be traced to pre Columbian times with the myths and oral literature that formed the cosmogonic view of the world that indigenous people had. Some of these stories are still known in Nicaragua. Like many Latin… …   Wikipedia

  • Theater and The Holocaust —    The threat of Nazism was dealt with in a number of notable stage plays in the 1930s and 1940s. They include N. Behrman’s Rain from Heaven (1934), Lillian Hellman’s Watch on the Rhine (1941), and Elmer Rice’s Flight to the West (1940) and… …   Historical dictionary of the Holocaust

  • And did those feet in ancient time — is a short poem by William Blake from the preface to his epic Milton a Poem, one of a collection of writings known as the Prophetic Books. The date on the title page of 1804 for Milton is probably when the plates were begun, but the poem was… …   Wikipedia

  • Theater of the United States — This article is about stage theater in the United States. For information about the movie industry, see Cinema of the United States. Theater of the United States AK AL AR AS AZ CA CO CT DC DE FL GA GU HI IA ID IL IN KS KY LA MA MD ME MI …   Wikipedia

  • Theater —    This term covers a great variety of cultural activities, from stage plays to opera, revues, musicals and cabaret, to dance and circus acts, whether performed in theater buildings (play houses and music halls) or in the open air. Dutch drama… …   Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands

  • Literature —    Where German literature ends and Austrian literature begins has long been contested by academics and ideologues. Poets in the Austrian lands were part of the general German literary scene of the Middle Ages; in the 12th and 13th centuries both …   Historical dictionary of Austria

  • theater — /thee euh teuhr, theeeu /, n. 1. a building, part of a building, or outdoor area for housing dramatic presentations, stage entertainments, or motion picture shows. 2. the audience at a theatrical or motion picture performance: The theater wept. 3 …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”