Home Book Club 6 Classics of American Literature You Must Read

6 Classics of American Literature You Must Read

“No ship can take us as far as a book,” said Emily Dickinson. So, how about a journey that will take you to different worlds by the masters of American literature?

1. Martin Eden – Jack London

“By the imagination of his love, he had made her too sacred and spiritual to have any bodily intimacy. Martin’s love drove him away and made it seem impossible to him. She had deprived herself of the only thing she ever wanted, her love.”

Martin Eden is Jack London’s semi-autobiographical novel that focuses on social and ideological issues of the 20th century. He wrote the book in the tradition of Künstlerroman, which deals with the development process of an artist. This novel, which successfully reveals the mentality and value differences between classes in American society, also draws attention to the place of status in society. At the same time, one of the novel’s central themes is the American Dream, which advocates that the path to success is accessible to everyone, regardless of social class.

The novel tells the story of a working-class Martin who falls in love with Ruth, a young, beautiful woman from the bourgeoisie, and struggles to train himself as a writer to reach him. Still, our hero is slowly approaching a tragic end that he did not expect.

2. The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

“How can you frighten a man who feels hunger not only in his shrunken stomach but also in the shrunken bellies of his children?”

The Grapes of Wrath is a realist novel by John Steinbeck in 1939. This novel, which has won many awards, including the Nobel Prize, tells the struggle of a farmer family who had to leave their home due to drought, poverty,y and the capitalization of agriculture during the Great Depression. The hopes, sorrows, and joys of this family, who set out with dreams of finding a job and a future in such a hopeless situation, have been skillfully described with an attitude criticizing capitalism and have become one of the most important works of the 20th century.

3. The Fall of the House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe

“Words are always in doubt.”

Edgar Allan Poe, one of the pioneers of the horror genre and who inspired many names that came after him, including Arthur Conan Doyle, is among the most influential writers of American literature. One of Poe’s most memorable stories, primarily known in the thriller, detective, mystery, and horror genres, is The Collapse of the House of Usher. This short story, which includes themes such as madness, isolation, and metaphysical identity in this Gothic fiction, which he handled with his master pen, takes the readers on a dark and suspenseful journey where love and death follow each other.

4. Walden – Henry David Thoreau

“It is not my intention to write a tribute to grief, just to croak loudly like a rooster standing on its roost at dawn and wake my neighbors.”

Walde was written in 1854 by the American writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau, one of the pioneers of the understanding of civil disobedience; We can say that it is a personal declaration of independence, a social experiment, and a journey towards spiritual discovery. In the book, he shares his experiences of the two years he lived in the forest, away from the city, and his marginal ideas, with the readers. He shares his important implications for social and economic life and the world order he created with us on the shores of Walden Lake.

5. The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“A piece of advice my father gave me when I was younger and more easily influenced has never left my mind. ‘When you try to criticize someone,’ he said, ‘remember that not everyone is born with the same opportunities as you.'”

One of the best novels in 20th-century American literature and Fitzgerald’s most brilliant work, The Great Gatsby, is about Jay Gatsby, a mysterious young millionaire living in a Long Island mansion obsessed with reuniting with his old love, Daisy Buchanan. It was built on the dream of recapturing the moment of years ago. The novel successfully reflects this glorious era known as the “Jazz Age” and is set in 1920s America; it deals with themes such as decadence, idealism, and social change and conveys the collapse of the American Dream to the readers through the destruction suffered by Gatsby.

6. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

“If I had a dog as stupid as my conscience, I would poison it immediately. This virtue takes up more space inside a person than anything else….”

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, one of the great American novels whose central theme is the conflict between slavery and freedom, is also considered Mark Twain’s best work. Huck, an uneducated, superstitious, but kind-hearted boy, runs away from his jobless and drunken father. Together with Jim, a fugitive black slave, they embark on an adventurous journey along the Mississippi River. While Twain presents unique portraits of people of all classes living on both sides of the river, he sometimes maintains a humorous and ironic style.

BONUS!

Selected Poems- Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson, one of the most important figures of American poetry, is a poet who lived an isolated life and was not well known during her lifetime. Having written approximately 1,800 poems, Dickinson has a very original and unconventional style for his time. I am sure you will enjoy reading it with its superficial but deep meanings between the lines!