Cultural influences on American literature in the late nineteenth century

Joan Muir


The authors of this period had to consider a great many conflicting attitudes and outlooks because of the complexity of life that resulted from the rapid change which was taking place. What brought about this rapid and complex change? Many historians have attributed the cause to science, economics, politics, or industrialism. However, I choose to see the answer in a principle which seems to be an underlying concern or motivating force of all four -- power. Power was not new or common to the late nineteenth century. Power in many forms had appeared as a vital part of life in many other cultures and centuries.... However, the power in the eighteen-nineties was of much greater degree and fascination than that of any other generation. In this decade power became a leading, if not the major cultural influence in American life.