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The topic of American fiction is an extremely broad one. As such, many scholars approach it from a chronological/stylistic perspective that begins thousands of years ago with orally transmitted Native American tales, legends, and myths. Although this fiction is remarkably diverse, it tends to share certain distinctive elements, including attention to natural forces and explanations of the origins of the universe. The second major period in American fiction is the period of European Exploration, which by some accounts begins with medieval Norse visitors. Written in diverse languages, this fiction describes explorers' travels to and contact with the new continent and its indigenous beings, often combining factual accounts with myth and heroism.
American Fiction Periods
- The Colonial period (1607-1765) followed-an era dominated by Puritan beliefs when imaginative fiction was quite rare and often criticized and even prohibited on moral grounds.
- The Revolutionary period (1765-1790) produced livelier fiction, much of it either supporting or opposing the cause of Independence or discussing the Constitution.
- The Early National period (1775-1828) saw the emergence of what many scholars regard as distinctively "American" fiction.
The domestic publishing industry and its readership steadily expanded as essayists, poets, and novelists began creating new, manifestly American genres rather unlike those produced elsewhere. In the decades and centuries that followed, American fiction developed even more boldly distinctive and unique traits as it progressed through numerous further phases-including: