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  • Hawthorne
  • Brenda Wineapple

This year's wealth of Hawthorne criticism includes Dan McCall's slim, limpid Citizens of Somewhere Else, the product of his long-term meditation on Hawthorne and James, as well as John Idol and Melinda Ponder's stirring series of essays, collected in Hawthorne and Women, that trace the female line of the School of Hawthorne with a rich variety of articles on women who boosted, taught, published, and memorialized Hawthorne or revealed in their own work how they shared his sensibility. The placing of Hawthorne in a historical context continues to engage many Hawthorne scholars; in this regard, Millicent Bell and John Carlos Rowe over two fine readings of The Marble Faun. Of particular note as well is Robert Milder's nuanced psychological interpretation of Hawthorne's oeuvre, one that is open to historical considerations, and Elizabeth Hewitt's striking political analysis of various Hawthorne and Melville letters.

i Editions, Biography, and Bibliography

The discovery of a Hawthorne letter by Richard P. Stebbins in the archives of the Boston Symphony Orchestra provides the occasion for Stebbins's admirably researched biographical essay "Berkshire Quartet: Hawthornes and Tappans at Tanglewood, 1850-1851" (NHR 25, i: 1-20). A copy of the letter, dated 7 September 1851, appears edited in Rose Hawthorne Lathrop's Memories of Hawthorne and the Centenary Edition of Hawthorne's correspondence, but until now the original had not been located. With it in hand, Stebbins painstakingly reconstructs the circumstances leading up to the Hawthornes' brief occupancy of the Red House in Lenox, Massachusetts, and includes in his essay a narrative of the house, its ownership, and its destruction, plus piquant characterizations of Caroline Sturgis Tappan and her husband, William Aspinwall Tappan. [End Page 33] Although Stebbins adds no significantly new interpretation, he conscientiously details the quarrel between Sophia Hawthorne and Caroline Tappan, former friends, that helped precipitate the Hawthornes' departure from the Berkshires in the fall of 1851.

Yoshiyuki Uematsu effectively enlists Stebbins's discovery in his own discussion of "A Hawthorne Letter Rediscovered" (NHR 25, ii: 1-7). While researching the Hawthorne papers at the Phillips Library in the Peabody Essex Museum, Uematsu found the full text of a Hawthorne letter composed in 1842 and incompletely published in the Hawthorne Centenary Edition. Written to the Reverend Samuel Ripley, the Hawthornes' landlord at the Old Manse, Hawthorne evidently offers a harvest of fruit in partial payment of the rent and, as Uematsu observes, this information "might be of some help in understanding Hawthorne's idea of the property right of a tenant, when we consider the 'Tappan' quarrel."

In her introduction to Tourist's New England Dona Brown explains that in the early 19th century, increased tourism in New England and the English craze for the picturesque sublime helped create a market for the travelogue that blended fact and fancy. She reprints Hawthorne's "Sketches from Memory" and "The Ambitious Guest" as examples of this genre.

Kimberly Free Muirhead has annotated much of the Hawthorne scholarship published between the summers of 1998 and 1999 in her extensive "Current Hawthorne Bibliography" (NHR 25, ii: 23-45), where she summarizes many of the authors' theses and notes the particular Hawthorne works discussed. The bibliography includes entries for a number of items published before 1998 as well as a listing of other bibliographies, reprints, essays, and dissertations.

ii Books

Dan McCall's Citizens of Somewhere Else is a series of supple essays about Hawthorne and James that reads like a fine distillation of seasoned meditations, some published earlier, about "two American writers [who] defined themselves as living to some extent in the land of writing itself, the foster home of the imagination." Paradoxically, however, as Americans, they both strive to "locate some America, some imaginative New-Found-Land whose spokesmen they so wanted to be."

Powerfully written and intelligent, the book begins with McCall's [End Page 34] elaboration of James's varied views of Hawthorne (extant as the introduction to Cornell's reissue of James's 1879 study of Hawthorne) and proceeds instructively to discuss Emily Dickinson's and Robert Lowell's adaptations of Hawthorne as well as Hawthorne's own borrowings of John Gibson Lockhart's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2125
Print ISSN
0065-9142
Pages
pp. 33-52
Launched on MUSE
1999-01-01
Open Access
No
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