How does Life Influence Literature?
“Everyday the life and emotions around us influence our perception of the things we write about in literature. Things such as an author’s emotions, experiences, and the environment they are in influence their writing. A major example of life influencing literature would be the Harlem Renaissance. Literature wouldn’t be enjoyable if life did not influence it in some type of way. To start, every action we make is influenced by our emotions whether that are good or bad. Well, the same goes for literature. Some authors like to write based off what they are feeling at that time. An example would be Anne Bradstreet who wrote about how women were looked down upon in colonial times. She became the first published female writer of the British North American Colonies all because she wrote what she was feeling.
In addition to an author’s emotions, their experiences also influence their literary work. Bringing your own personal experiences only enriches and deepens the experience for the reader (Penn, 2013). This is especially true when it comes to the poet Maya Angelou. Her poem titled “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” best fit this scenario. This poem is mainly about her experience of being raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the age of seven years old who then became mute for five years.
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How it works
Not only do experiences influence literature, the but environment does as well. An author feeds off of the environment they are in. Some authors may write about hostile or connected environments. Upton Sinclair would best fit this scenario. His book, The Jungle, exposed the the condition or environment of the U.S. meat packing industry in 1906.
As we know, literature was greatly influenced by life during the Harlem Renaissance. This was a blossoming of African American culture, mainly in the creative arts. Authors during this time wrote about themes such as assimilation, alienation, pride, and unity. This helped the the world to have a better understanding of the African American race. Langston Hughes once said “Perhaps the mission of an artist is to interpret beauty to people- the beauty within themselves.”
Many writers decided to explore black vernacular speech and lyrical forms while creating works that identified with the black masses. Many works also talked about the alienation experienced by minorities in American society. George Hutchinson also stated that authors sought to break free of victorian moral values. During this advancement of literature, a new style of poetry was created by Langston Hughes called Jazz Poetry. This type of poetry has a jazz like rhythm and a sense of improvisation. Writers of this time included Zora Neale Hurston, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Joseph Seamon Cotter Jr., Claude Mckay, and of course, Langston Hughes.
Zora Neale Hurston published more than fifty short stories, plays, and essays. He published an autobiography and four novels, too. Some of her novels, “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” and “Sweat” helped her become a fixture of New York City’s Harlem Renaissance. She even recorded cultural history in her work.her stature even got to the point where her place of living became a popular spot for social gatherings. She passed away on January 28, 1960.
Another poet is Jessie Redmon Fauset. Even though she was an architect, she was a poet as well whose work was read during and after the Harlem Renaissance. Some of her novels are Plum Bun, Chinaberry Tree, and Comedy: An American Novel. Her work mostly portrayed middle class black characters forced to deal with self hate and racial prejudice. She was also best known as the literary editor of the crisis. After she stopped writing, she continued to help by teaching French.
There was also Joseph Seamon Cotter Jr. who wrote On the Fields of France which was a protest play. The play followed the last two hours of how two American army officers, one black and the other white, who die holding hands. As they are taking their last breaths, the wonder why they can not live in peace and friendship. He also wrote two other plays such as The White Folk Nigger and the Caroling Dusk, but they were never published. He died for Tuberculosis.
Femi Lewis stated that James Weldon Johnson one said that Claude Mckay’s poetry one of the greatest forces in bringing about what is called a the negro literary renaissance. His most famous works are If We Must Die, America, and After Harlem Shadows. He used many different themes such as African American pride and the desire for assimilation. He also wrote novels including Home To Harlem, Banjo, Gingertown, and Banana Bottom. He died May 22, 2948.
Lastly, the most prolific writer was Langston Hughes. His literary works help shape American literature and politics. He was mostly known for his insightful and colorful portrayals of black life in America. Hughes even earned a scholarship to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in early 1926 after putting 3 of his poems beside the plate of Vachel Lindsay. He wrote to tell the stories of his people that reflected their actual culture.
So in conclusion, we can see how life really influences literature. From things such as emotions, the environment, and our experiences all influence our perception if the things we write about in literature. Many different authors and poets have proven how this is true. The Harlem Renaissance best fits this topic. So, with the help of the poets and authors of the world and the Harlem Renaissance, the understanding African Americans were understood was redefined.”