From the time of Shakespeare to Dostoyevsky – and even in earlier times past, there has been an ever revolving door in the manner and style of literary works. With a new age comes a paradigm shift in schools of thought and structure in society.
In the Victorian Age, the differences in genre were quite simple and reflected the simplicity of the society of the day. They only had a few genre governing the body of literary works in that age and these were the epic, tragedy, and comedy.
As we continued to evolve in society, so did our literary genius. The founding of the United States gave rise to American Literature and the emergence of literary giants, and great literary works such Edgar Allen Poe’s “Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and the famous “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher.
The Industrial Age made for popular detective novels such as the evergreen Sherlock Holmes, brought to life by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle. But you see, the schools of thought were in a constant state of flux. The steam engine was but a tip of the iceberg – what will man accomplish next?
Thus, these were questions visionary authors like Jules Vernes strove to answer and it was he who planted the flag of science fiction in the literary world with books like “Journey to the center of the earth” and “Twenty thousand leagues Below the Sea.” These books were to be the catalyst for the chain reaction that was the science fiction boom, with Isaac Asimov leading the way for the science fiction to find its place of honour amongst the literary genre.
Again, the river of society was a raging flood that couldn’t be contained. There began a quest for social equality. The Harlem Renaissance was the melting pot of numerous various African-American sub-culture giving rise to Pan-Africanism and innovative forms of literary expressions such as modernism, and jazz poetry.
The African-American, once a slave was beginning to come into his own in the dystopian society that was then America. Social activism became the vehicle for the emancipation of the black man. The Civil Rights Movement – inspired by Martin Luther King, was a gun-powder moment in the keg of American history – exploding and revolutionizing reality.
Authors like Amira Baraka authored inspirational novels themed in the struggle against racism and hatred in the American South. The Autobiography of Malcom X opened the curtain on Black Nationalism. The Countercultural Movement also played its part in the struggle for equality with Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changing’’ one of the clarion calls for a more tolerating and accepting society.
The Black Continent known as Africa also began its quest to unburden itself from colonialists and Africanism was born. Ngugi, Mariama, and Ayi Kwei Armah are but a few authors who fought for African independence through their literary works. We are now in a new age with youths taking the stage and Y.A. Fiction becoming de rigueur. But one thing is certain, a literary revolution is coming once again.