Landscape and Seascape Influence on the American Literary Imagination: Contributions of James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain and Herman Melville to the Development of the American Literary Vision

Francis Mowang Ganyi


Literary landscaping refers to the imaginative representation of nature and the physical environment in the fictional writings of authors who display profound love and attachment to nature and the environment. It emphasizes the presentation of characters and events in a part romanticized and part mythical connection with the soil. Landscape or seascape is as such the natural habitat, the total environment of plant and animal and their ecology as presented in fictional creations. It also emphasizes a mythical as well as practical or realistic attachment to the soil resulting from personal experiences utilized for commentary on human existential problems. Early American writers, therefore, derived inspiration from the land and the experiences of early settlers which were ingrained in their fictional writings. The idea of land and seascape or the wilderness and the unknown world seems to have featured more prominently although not restricted to American Literature because of the vast expanse of land and sea available to the early settlers and which land and seascapes had a mythic or even religious significance on the imagination of not just the ordinary inhabitants but also writers. The significance of land and seascapes to the people results in a highly romanticized vision of the environment in the American Literary imagination. The vision of perfection and idealism appears in the works of early writers who present a picture of frontier life, the wilderness and its potential for human development. This paper attempts to portray the appeal of landscape and seascape and their effect on three American writers as they utilize same in their imaginative constructs that afford them an opportunity to articulate the American dream and the problems of attainment of that dream in a land that promised unlimited possibilities of actualization. The paper also attempts to show how this imagination has actuated a new genre of American Literature in The Midwestern Pastoral.

Keywords: landscape, seascape, literary imagination, wilderness, identity, American dream, realism and romanticism

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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