What's American about American literature ?

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Perhaps a good way of looking at the question is to look at one of the most "American" of American authors, Mark Twain.  He was considered one of the first to capture a real spirit of the new nation with his use of the vernacular of various regions and the telling of the tales of the places of America that were so different from Europe and other places.

Critics point to his specific knowledge of the places he knew about and the very different ideas and attitudes of the people he wrote about including characters like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer and those around them both.  He also wrote a great deal of journalistic pieces and wrote about the various places he visited which captured in a non-fiction way the spirit of those places.

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