In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

NOTES THE TELLING FRAME OF HAWTHORNE'S "LEGENDS OF THE PROVINCE HOUSE" P. L. Reed Virginia State College Hawthorne projected several collections of tales which were never published in his originally intended form, although most of the pieces did appear in periodicals and were eventually collected in books like Twice-Told Tales and Mosses from an Old Manse. The planned collections, called "Seven Tales of My NativeLand," "ProvincialTales," and "The Story Teller," were to be more or less coherent sequences, but Hawthorne found his intentions frustrated by prospective publishers who preferred printing tales individually in periodicals and annual giftbooks to investing in a complete volume by a single audior.1 Thus his "Legends of the Province House," a framed sequence of four tales published separately in die Democratic Review of 1838 and 1839 and together in the expanded Twice-Told Tales of 1842, was a comparatively brief yet fully realized embodiment of a persistent aim. According to the best informed speculations, the major unifying elements of "Seven Tales of My Native Land" and "Provincial Tales" were the similarity ofsubject and theme in the tales of each collection.2 It is evident from the titles, of course, that both were to treat at least generally "native American" subjects, thus serving that common intention of Hawthorne and many of his contemporaries, to create a national literature from native materials.3 "The Story Teller" was planned as a large framed sequence, unified by "a travelling story teller whose shiftings of fortune were to form the interludes and links between the separate stories."4 Hawthorne's "story teller" himself describes the format in "Passages from a Relinquished Work," a loose series of sketches apparently part of the original collection but published with "Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe" in the New England Magazine of 1834: With each specimen [of my tales] will be given a sketch of the circumstances in which the story was told. Thus my airdrawn 106Notes pictures will be set in frames perhaps more valuable than the pictures themselves, since they will be embossed with groups of characteristic figures, amidthe lakeand mountain scenery, thevillages andfertile fields, of our native land. But I write the book for the sake of its moral, which many a dreaming youth may profit by, though it is the experience of a wandering story teller.5 The speaker is like his creator here, in his lightness, modesty, even diffidence toward his tales. Also, his tentative valuation of die "frames" over tiieir "pictures" hints at a possibly inevitable lack of integration between his sketches and tales. The fictional frames may establish a story-telling situation for the following tales, may give an excuse for thenrecording , in other words; but this is not to say that die relationship between frame and story is thematic, even "moral," and absolute.6 In "Legends of the Province House," however, Hawthorne created a perfectly integrated sequence which, significandy enough, utilized two major impulses of his earlier planned collections, the presentation of and comment upon nativeAmericanmaterials in an explicit story-telling situation. Indeed, considering the tiiematic importance of both the Hawthorne "I" in the frames who depicts die telling-situations at the Province House (he has heard the legends during three separate visits there), and the actual tellers of the legends whom "I" describes and whose words he reports, lightly or heavily edited, it is clear thatwith the right subject Hawthorne could make the two impulses reinforce each other: the tales and framesare mutually necessary in thattheseparticular legends from the Province House "past" must be commented upon by the Province House "present." As Robert H. Fossum has carefully shown, the four "Legends," "Howe's Masquerade," "Edward Randolph 's Portrait," "Lady Eleanor's Mande," and "Old Esther Dudley," have as their "purpose" and "subject" a demonstration of "the relationship between past and present."7 To that end each reveals through the focus of the present Province House (provided by a framing story-telling situation in the House, now an inn) an episode from die House's past which in itself contains a confrontation between forces of the past and present. What is of interest here is not so much the development of subject and theme through die...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 105-111
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.