10 American Literary Classics You Need to Read
American literature has played a significant role in shaping the literary world. American writers have created some of the most memorable and influential works of literature in the world. Whether you are an avid reader or just starting out, there are some American literary classics that you simply must read. Here are 10 American literary classics that you have to read:
1. The Great Gatsby
Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this novel is considered to be one of the greatest works of American literature. The novel is set in the 1920s and tells the story of the enigmatic Jay Gatsby and his pursuit of the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan. The Great Gatsby is a masterpiece of prose, symbolism, and character development.
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
Written by Harper Lee, this novel is a classic that should be read by everyone. It tells the story of Scout Finch, a young girl growing up in the South during the 1930s, and her father, a lawyer who defends a black man falsely accused of rape. To Kill a Mockingbird is a moving story about race, justice, and growing up.
3. The Catcher in the Rye
Written by J.D. Salinger, this novel is a beloved classic about teenage angst and rebellion. The story is narrated by the protagonist, Holden Caulfield, who has just been expelled from prep school and is wandering around New York City before going home. The Catcher in the Rye is a timeless portrayal of adolescent alienation and disillusionment.
Written by Herman Melville, this masterpiece of American literature is a sprawling epic that explores themes of obsession, human nature, and the pursuit of vengeance. The novel follows the journey of the captain of a whaling ship, Ahab, as he seeks revenge on the giant white whale that bit off his leg in a previous encounter.
Written by Toni Morrison, this novel is a haunting and powerful work of fiction that explores the traumatic legacy of slavery. The story follows a former slave, Sethe, and her daughter Denver as they struggle to survive in a world haunted by the past. Beloved is a stunning portrayal of the human cost of slavery and the toll it takes on those who endure it.
6. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Written by Mark Twain, this novel is an American classic that tells the story of Huck Finn, a young boy who runs away from home and befriends a runaway slave named Jim. The novel is a satirical critique of the institution of slavery and racism in America and is revered for its raw, honest depiction of life in the mid-19th century.
7. The Scarlet Letter
Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, this novel is a masterful exploration of sin, guilt, and redemption. Set in Puritan Massachusetts in the 17th century, the story follows Hester Prynne, a woman who has committed adultery and is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her clothing as a mark of shame. The Scarlet Letter is a timeless work of literature that explores the complexities of human nature and morality.
8. The Sun Also Rises
Written by Ernest Hemingway, this novel is a classic in the genre of the lost generation. The story follows a group of expatriates living in Paris in the 1920s and their travels to Pamplona, Spain for the running of the bulls. The Sun Also Rises is a powerful critique of post-World War I disillusionment and the search for meaning in a world that has lost its way.
9. The Sound and the Fury
Written by William Faulkner, this novel is a complex and challenging work of fiction that explores the disintegration of a Southern aristocratic family. The story is told from multiple perspectives and jumps back and forth in time, challenging the reader’s perceptions of truth and reality. The Sound and the Fury is a testament to Faulkner’s mastery of the craft of writing and his ability to capture the complexities of the human condition.
10. Their Eyes Were Watching God
Written by Zora Neale Hurston, this novel is a feminist masterpiece that explores the intersections of race, gender, and class. The story follows the life of Janie Crawford, a Southern African American woman who navigates her way through the complexities of love, identity, and independence. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a powerful work of literature that captures the spirit and resilience of African American women.
These 10 American literary classics are essential reads for anyone interested in understanding the rich tapestry of American literature. Each of these works is a masterpiece in its own right, exploring complex themes of human nature, morality, and society. So, what are you waiting for? Pick up one of these classics today and experience the power of American literature for yourself.