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  • 2 Hawthorne
  • Brenda Wineapple

No major books focusing solely on Hawthorne appeared this year. Jamie Barlowe has amplified a 1997 article that finds rampant, institutionalized sexism in the academy's disregard of scholarship by women on The Scarlet Letter. As usual, The Scarlet Letter and The Marble Faun receive the preponderance of comment, usually of a New Historical bent that reads Hawthorne's last completed novel, for example, as an antebellum text of racial import. Patricia Crain's The Story of A: The Alphabetization of America from The New England Primer to The Scarlet Letter revitalizes our notion of the novel's cultural role, and several scholars attempt to pry Hawthorne criticism from its Anglocentric bias, reformulating current shibboleths about identity and multiculturalism. Bill Christophersen writes a particularly good eclectic essay on Hawthorne's tales, and Benjamin Scott Grossberg mobilizes queer theory to interpret Blithedale with sly and controversial aplomb.

i Editions, Biography, and Bibliography

By restoring the diary entries of Henry Longfellow originally pruned by his brother Samuel for genteel consumption, Edward L. Tucker in "The Meeting of Hawthorne and Longfellow in 1838" (ANQ 13, iv: 18–21) demonstrates not just that the relationship between Hawthorne and Longfellow is more complex than previously supposed but also that Longfellow is not so dull as the expurgated diaries suggest. Margaret B. Moore's "Nathaniel Hawthorne and 'Old John Brown'" (NHR 26, i: 25– 32) summarizes events prior to John Brown's 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, to provide a context for Hawthorne's 1862 essay "Chiefly about War Matters" and its provocative remarks about John Brown, which she provers as Hawthorne "throwing down the gauntlet at [Franklin] San [End Page 29] born's feet and possibly Emerson's too." Moore concludes that Hawthorne was "effectively ostracized" in Concord, particularly after his dedication of Our Old Home to Franklin Pierce in 1863. Rupert Holman's "Hawthorne and the Uttoxeter Johnson Monument" (NHR 26, ii: 13–17) credits Hawthorne's essay "Uttoxeter" (revised as "Lichfield and Uttoxeter" for publication in Our Old Home) as inspiring a public monument to commemorate Dr. Samuel Johnson's Uttoxeter penance. When Hawthorne could not find any local memorial of the incident, he tartly observed that Uttoxeter's "inhabitants know nothing, as a matter of general interest, about the penance, and care nothing for the scene of it." Evidently, however, the inhabitants did know something of penance; they not only built a monument but, according to Holman, consecrate it yearly.

Two studies of Henry James's Hawthorne tell us little about Hawthorne but a great deal about Henry James's depiction of him. George McFadden's "On Rediscovering Henry James" (TriQ 107/108: 243–67) detects James's troubled relations to his own family in his portrait of Hawthorne; James rewrites his own repression as Hawthorne's aggrieved relation to the Puritans. Willie Tolliver's "Hawthorne's Room" in Henry James as Biographer (Garland) shows how James discovers in Hawthorne's room an image crucial to them both, one that implies sequestration, loneliness, discovery, and symbolic death.

ii Books

The Scarlet Mob of Scribblers: Rereading Hester Prynne (So. Ill.) is Jamie Barlowe's book-length elaboration of her 1997 article, "Rereading Women: Hester Prynne-ism and the Scarlet Mob of Scribblers" (see AmLS 1997, pp. 36–37). Amplifying her thesis and incorporating some of the objections raised to her initial argument—that male critics have neglected or scorned women's scholarship on The Scarlet Letter—Barlowe invokes Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark (itself a foundation text for recent Hawthorne studies) and extends Morrison's claims about race to gender: "The consequences of [white male] self-definitions and self-narratives based on an opposition to a repressed Other are sexism and racism, which are also repressed." As a consequence, Barlowe proposes to "critique and theorize the absent presence of women" in scholarly and critical work on The Scarlet Letter and to expose academies of higher learning as alarmingly sexist. [End Page 30]

Barlowe uses "Hester Prynne-ism" to stand for the "profoundly negative construction of female sexuality and subjectivity" that divides women into angels (beautiful, silent, and heterosexual) or devils (deserving of and in need of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2125
Print ISSN
0065-9142
Pages
pp. 29-43
Launched on MUSE
2000-01-01
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2023
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