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Biography 5

Biography 4

Philip Freneau (1752-1832)

 

He is known as the poet of the American Revolution. Freneau was born in New York City, and educated at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). His reputation as a satirist was first achieved with a series of vitriolic poems attacking the British, written shortly after the outbreak of the Revolution. Early in 1780, Freneau took part in a privateering expedition to the West Indies. He was captured by the British and imprisoned aboard a ship in New York Harbor. The harsh treatment he received during his confinement provided him with material for The British Prison-Ship, a Poem in Four Cantoes (1781). While working in the post office at Philadelphia (1781-84), he continued to produce brilliant, satiric verse in the patriotic vein. Freneau spent the next six years at sea, and in 1791 Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson appointed him a translator. While serving in that capacity, Freneau founded and was editor of the National Gazette, a newspaper that gave forceful expression to the libertarian ideals of Jeffersonian democracy and that attacked the American statesman Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Party. Freneau retired in 1793 to his farm in New Jersey. Among his most famous individual poems are “The Wild Honeysuckle,” ”The House of Night,” and “The Indian Burying Ground.”

 

Филип ФРЕНО

ЦВЕТОК

 

Цветок прелестный, ты нашел

Здесь молчаливый свой приют,

Где тишиной наполнен дол,

Где тени мёд твой стерегут;

Никто бестрепетной рукой

Не потревожит твой покой.

От взора суетного скрыт

Наряд твой, белого белей,

И сон полуденный хранит

Журчащий ласково ручей;

А солнца медленная лень

Клонит к закату долгий день.

Я, пленник тленной красоты,

Печалюсь о твоей судьбе:

Как древле райские цветы

Поникли – так увять тебе;

Осенний ветр и зимний хлад

Одежд твоих не пощадят.

Рассветный луч, вода ручья

Вспоили красоту твою.

Но, явлен из небытия,

Ты обречен небытию;

Меж ними только миг, пока

Струится хрупкий век цветка.

Washington Irving (1783-1859)

 

Born in New York City, Irving studied law at private schools. After serving in several law offices and traveling in Europe, he was eventually admitted to the bar in 1806. His interest in the law was neither deep nor long-lasting, however, and Irving began to contribute satirical essays and sketches to New York newspapers. From 1807 to 1808 he was the leading figure in a social group that included his brothers; together they wrote a series of satirical essays and poems on New York society. Irving's contributions to this miscellany established his reputation as an essayist and wit, and this reputation was enhanced by his next work, A History of New York (1809), ostensibly written by Irving's famous comic creation, the Dutch-American scholar Diedrich Knickerbocker. The work is a satirical account of New York State during the period of Dutch occupation (1609-1664); Irving's mocking tone and comical descriptions of early American life counterbalanced the nationalism prevalent in much American writing of the time. Generally considered the first important contribution to American comic literature, and a great popular success from the start, the work brought Irving considerable fame and financial reward.



In 1815 Irving went to Liverpool, England, as a silent partner in his brothers' commercial firm. In England he became the intimate friend of several leading men of letters, including Sir Walter Scott. Under the pen name of Geoffrey Crayon, Irving wrote the essays and short stories collected in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. (1819-1820). The Sketch Book, as it is also known, was his most popular work and was widely acclaimed in both England and the United States for its geniality, grace, and humor. The collection's two most famous stories, both based on German folktales, are “Rip Van Winkle,” about a man who falls asleep in the woods for twenty years, and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,”about a schoolteacher's encounter with a legendary headless horseman. Set in rural New York, these tales are considered classics in American literature.

From 1826 until 1829 Irving was a member of the staff of the United States legation in Madrid. During this period and after his return to England, he wrote several historical works, the most popular of which was the History of Christopher Columbus (1828). Another well-known work of this period was The Alhambra (1832), a series of sketches and stories based on Irving's residence in 1829 in an ancient Moorish palace at Granada, Spain. In 1832, after an absence that lasted 17 years, he returned to the United States, where he was welcomed as a figure of international importance. Over the next few years Irving traveled to the American West and wrote several books using the West as their setting.

Irving's popular but elegant style, and the ease and picturesque fancy of his best work attracted an international audience. To a certain extent his romantic attachment to Europe resulted in over-refinement of material. He never attempted to come to terms with the democratic American life of his time. On the other hand, American writers were encouraged by Irving's example to look beyond the United States for subject matter.

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