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JOHN DOLIS Hawthorne's Gentle Reader: (The Hen) House of (Family) Romance ISET before you a veritable hen house (Plato's "hen": the One) where chicken and egg are but a reversible gestalt in whose name I shall attempt to lay (out) that configuration of texts we designate as "Hawthorne." What does this proper name provoke? It calls forth (nothing: less than) the dead. Such is the case wherever the scene overtakes the scenario, wherever it takes over, takes the narration from behind. This it does with a vengeance in The Marble Faun, where "death becomes the companion of the author," of the narration itself (Dryden 34). By conferring a shape and temporality upon The Faun, I seek to gather that text within another narration that both recollects backward its historical genesis toward origin and recollects forward or repeats (Kierkegaard) its own performance as story, recites the future of its own fabrication. The event I would locate is, by definition, its primal scene: that scenario by means of which it will defenestrate the frame of its own récit, by means of which it enunciates itSelf. This annunciation is, of course, a noun. I might as well announce it in advance, dismissing all suspense from the outset despite (in spite of) the fact that everything remains suspended upon the tenuous texture of this name. "Pearl" is but another name for "Donatello." It's not by chance that "Hawthorne" lays "felonious hands upon a . . . statue of a Pearl-Diver" (4) in order to re-site Akers at the scene of Kenyon's studio: "the statue of a beautiful youth, a pearl-fisher, who had got entangled in the weeds at the bottom of the sea, and lay dead among the pearl-oysters" (117). The Arizona Quarterly Volume 47 Number 1, Spring 1991 Copyright © 1991 by Arizona Board of Regents ISSN 0004-1610 3o John Dolis Faun will serve to resuscitate this figure (Pearl/lettet/Letter transformed to faun/Donatello/"a beautiful youth") regarding which Miriam observes , "the fotm has not settled itself into sufficient repose" (117). Remarking this trans-formation, I'll say it again: "Donatello"—that is, the marble faun as both the site of an object/cite of a text (The Marble Faun)—is but another name for "Pearl." Just as the preface revises its previous cite(s), so too The Faun repeats The Letter, posts it to a future site, The End ("Postscript"), its after-cite (Post Crypt): a dead letter office. To sight this location is to recite that event (primal scene) by means ofwhich the textual configuration called "Hawthorne" is able to appear in the first place. For this, we'd be well advised to begin at the end—the tail of this tale, if you will, and under whose very cover is revealed that layer which conceals the egg, one whose mystery can only be further scrambled in any tale of mixed and mixed up metaphors (symptoms). Resurrected by the designation "Postscript," "Hawthorne" resumes himSelf to once more stick it to the Gentle Reader in the end. The point is this: do Donatello's ears have points? Since the Gentle Reader is dying to know this point—to get it, to take it all in—and since Hawthorne has already conceded the state of his own abysmal ignorance regarding any such points where knowledge is concerned—"How excessively stupid in me not to have seen it sooner!" (465)—Hawthorne is forced to depend upon his characters with a faith no less suspect than that with which he would invest the very character of the Real, and in whose name he would now address the circuitous charactet of the Imaginary (character) itself. Dis-placing Hawthorne—"the Subject who is Supposed to Know" (Lacan 230-43)—it thus befalls Kenyon to stick it to the Gentle Reader for whom this issue constitutes the only point: "I know, but may not tell," replies Kenyon; "On that point, at all events, there shall be not one word of explanation" (467). Reduced to this exclusion, the Gentle Reader is left but one arena, one roost, it would seem, for sympathy. Identification resigns itSelf to the following form: "Poor Hawthorne!" For...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-9595
Print ISSN
0004-1610
Pages
pp. 29-47
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-02
Open Access
No
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