Although it was a relatively modest year for Hawthorne studies, 2007 saw the arrival of useful reference works edited by Leland S. Person and by Ronald A. Bosco and Jillmarie Murphy, Anne Lounsbery's book-length study comparing Hawthorne with Nikolai Gogol, and engaging essays or parts of books from Theo Davis, Robert Milder, William Heath, Dorothy Z. Baker, Michael J. Colacurcio, Laura Doyle, and Kyla Wazana Tompkins.
A new collection, Hawthorne in His Own Time: A Biographical Chronicle of His Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates, ed. Ronald A. Bosco and Jillmarie Murphy (Iowa), offers an intimate portrait of Hawthorne in the voices of over two dozen individuals who knew him well. The editors open their biographical introduction with the death of the author and let Franklin Pierce, in a letter to Bowdoin friend Horatio Bridge, provide his intimate account of Hawthorne's last hours. With obituaries, artistic assessments, and biographies, and in transcribed conversations, Bosco and Murphy present the construction of the departed artist and, with brief contextualizations, their chronicle of a life. Included here are expected voices—Elizabeth Manning Hawthorne, Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Bronson Alcott, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry James, James T. Fields, William Dean Howells, and Julian Hawthorne—as [End Page 35] well as some less expected but welcome inclusions. Among them are Lucy Ann Sutton Bradley, "Childhood Encounters with Hawthorne in Salem"; Henry Arthur Bright, "On First Meeting Hawthorne in America, 1852"; Francis Bennoch, "Vagabondizing with Hawthorne in New England in 1856"; Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, "My Earliest Memories of Father: Italy, 1858–1859"; and Franklin B. Sanborn, "A Conversation about Hawthorne at the Concord School of Philosophy in 1880." Taken altogether, these individual pieces (most of the early voices are women, most of the later ones men) offer a rich collective portrait stretching from before the author achieved his first artistic successes to well beyond his 1864 passing.
In Thin Culture, High Art: Gogol, Hawthorne, and Authorship in Nineteenth-Century Russia and America (Harvard) Anne Lounsbery draws an extended comparison between Hawthorne and Nikolai Gogol, two writers deeply connected to the establishment of distinct national literatures. Despite the differences in their two cultures, the authors shared many preoccupations and lived in societies that shared a "sense of cultural lack" made more difficult by rapidly accelerating print cultures. Lounsbery arranges her discussion in three parts, each with essays on the authors individually, then a synthesizing essay as conclusion. In Part 1, "First Writings and Institutional Negotiations," she discusses how, in their shorter tales, each author confronts institutional constraints; in Part 2, "Thin Art, High Art," Lounsbery interprets Gogol's Dead Souls and Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables as works that critique cultural insufficiencies; and in Part 3, "Tradition and Modernity, or, What Gogol and Hawthorne Found in Rome," she examines Gogol's Petersburg tales and Hawthorne's The Marble Faun in conversation with modernity's proliferation of printed texts. In a chapter on "Hawthorne before 'Hawthorne,'" Lounsbery concentrates on several of Hawthorne's early tales and prefaces, written during a time of personal poverty and obscurity and at a cultural moment when authorship was morphing from a genteel avocation into a profession. She sees Hawthorne's obsessions with anonymity, privacy, fame, and economic success—worked out in "The Artist of the Beautiful," "Alice Doane's Appeal," "Wakefield," "Rappaccini's Daughter," and "The Custom-House"—as speaking to his own culture's anxious but transformational time. In "History, Vision, and 'Ocular Relations' in The House of the Seven Gables," Lounsbery reads the novel, despite its virtual absence of public space, as calling "to be read as a story [End Page 36] about nation," even as it "declines to interpret historical events in fully historical terms." Like Gogol, Hawthorne labors without the broad audience established literary institutions could supply and "remained preoccupied—productively and 'modernly' so—with the questions of perspective and artistic ethics." In "Hawthorne's Rome: Copies, Excess and 'Humbug' in The Marble Faun," Rome is figured as a "distilled essence not only of art, but of pastness and 'Europeanness' itself." In a world...