US Fairytales of the First Half of the 20th Century: Constructing the National (Stylistic and Plot Peculiarities)
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Abstract: In the early twentieth century, American writers first started looking for a manner to describe the national, partially breaking away from the European canon, yet still following it to an extent. The literary fairytale is particularly interesting when considering this issue, as children’s literary genres can be characterized by the authors’ more pronounced intentions to portray society in the way it would like to be seen. This article considers the ways of representing national identity with reference to fairytales written by US authors (L. F. Baum, C. Sandburg, J. Thurber, E. B. White). The article aims at exploring the multitude of means employed by the authors to establish a new national tradition of the genre (the correlation between fantasy and realism, the system of characters, poetic onomastics, style and plot characteristics of the literary fairytales of the first half of the twentieth century, etc.). The analysis makes it possible to single out a number of peculiarities typical of the fairytale discourse in the works of American writers, such as a tendency to ironically reconsider the canons of the genre and combine the features of fantasy and realism in the narrative, which makes the role of colloquial linguistic means more significant. The desire to create a nation-specific type of the genre brings about the problem of nomination. Acting in the roles of new ‘Adams’, who are naming objects around them, American fairytale authors come up with occasional ways of naming their characters and topoi. On the one hand, names may be completely devoid of any etymological basis, and, on the other hand, they may evoke associations with typical phenomena of the New World. The characters bear features reflecting the peculiarities of American mentality (practicality, pragmatism, confidence in their own abilities). The space of the fairytale is transformed as compared to the traditional chronotope. Now, miracles either happen in a metropolis of the times of the author or in rural areas, at a farm where, as it turns out, miracles can also take place. However, making the setting of their narrative clearer poses new challenges to the authors, as their narrative may include topics typical of traditional realist fiction, such as growing up, friendship, loss, and compassion.
Key words: US literature; children’s literature; literary fairytale; national identity; poetic onomastics.
Kuznetsova, T. S., Orlova, O. Yu. (2020). US Fairytales of the First Half of the 20th Century: Constructing the National (Stylistic and Plot Peculiarities). In Philological Class. 2020. Vol. 25 ⋅ №3. P. 164-171. DOI 10.26170/FK20-03-14.