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Focusing on Herman Melville's letters to literary peers, this essay reads the extravagance of Melville's epistolary style less as a symptom of any urgent sexual desires for his addressees than as a relatively conventional performance of nineteenth-century masculine letter writing. From this premise, the essay makes two related arguments. The first is historiographic. It shows that the isolation of Nathaniel Hawthorne as Melville's principal love object was as much as projection of mid-twentieth-century Americanist critics (for whom Hawthorne was unquestionably a love object) as it was a historical reality. The critical effort to establish Melville as a great American writer made strategic use of epistolary evidence that linked Melville to another great American writer. The essay's second argument is formalist. It shows that if Melville expressed his longings to a number of male companions according to the period's terms for masculine epistolary convention, those longings were not any less meaningful for being highly conventional. This understanding of literary form shows that the historical study of sexuality can benefit from attention to the formal and conventional aspects of personal expression.

The 5th of August, 1850, is the fateful date on which scholars have determined that Herman Melville met Nathaniel Hawthorne at a picnic in the Berkshires, though for any number of reasons neither man recorded the date.1 Melville and Hawthorne visited as neighbors for the next 16 months, through November of 1851, and then saw one another only twice more: once a year later, in December of 1852, when Hawthorne was living in Concord, and then five years later, in November of 1856, when Melville visited Liverpool where Hawthorne was working as a consulate. They were, in a word, fast friends. And while both men had other important friendships with other literary men of the day, it is their brief friendship with one another that has received the most extensive amount of critical scrutiny and elaboration in two otherwise well-studied lives. Despite the fact that only 11 letters are known to exist from their correspondence, ten of which were written by Melville, and all of which were written in the space of two years, the Hawthorne-Melville relationship remained a staple of Melville criticism, from Raymond Weaver's inaugural study in 1921, to major postwar considerations by Harrison Hayford, Leon Howard, Richard H. Brodhead, and others.2 Then, in 1975, drawing on the same ten letters, and honing in on the letter from 17(?) November 1851, Edwin Haviland Miller decisively recast the relation between Hawthorne and Melville in Freudian terms, a repressed longing for father and brother, manifest as a homosexual affection.3 More and less explicitly homoerotic interpretations of the Hawthorne-Melville relationship followed, and recent publications like a lively collection of critical essays and a reader's edition of this correspondence suggests that, despite no newly discovered letters, the topic is far from exhausted.4 Hawthorne and Melville, separated in life, are posthumously wedded in criticism.

Though Melville's ten letters to Hawthorne intimate an unmistakable intensity and interest in his addressee, this essay will demonstrate that similar interest and intensity registers elsewhere in Melville's correspondence. The fact that Hawthorne is therefore not necessarily unique as an object of Melville's affection raises two sets of concerns that this essay will explore. The first set are historiographic. The [End Page 119] isolation of Hawthorne as Melville's principal love object proves to be as much a projection of mid-twentieth-century Americanist critics (for whom Hawthorne was unquestionably a love object) as it does a historical reality. The critical effort to establish Melville as a great American writer—a writer defined by modernist iconoclasm rather than by formal convention—made tactical use of epistolary evidence that linked Melville to another great American writer. The essay's second set of concerns are formalist. It shows that if it was within the period's bounds for masculine epistolary convention that Melville expressed his longings for other male companions, those longings were not any less meaningful for being conventional.

To make these arguments, the present essay examines the critical presumptions that informed the editorial practices which in turn enabled the publication of Melville's correspondence with Hawthorne; only secondarily does it examine that correspondence itself. Such an examination of Melville scholarship enables us to see some of the ways that mythmaking has long flourished among the repertoire of our critical practices. One precedent for this investigation would accordingly be the work of scholars including Jonathan Arac, Donald Pease, and William V. Spanos, who have considerably enriched the field's understanding of how the politics of mid- and late-twentieth-century American culture shaped the study of American literature.5 My approach, however, is less focused on politics in their sense, and more focused on what might be called the cultural assumptions that critics bring to bear on their objects—for example, what critics normatively imagine counts as a work, an author, a relationship. Another important precedent for the present essay, then, is the kind of investigation that Virginia Jackson advances in Dickinson's Misery, a study of Emily Dickinson's poetry which troubles the widely-held understanding that Dickinson in fact wrote poems.6 Jackson demonstrates that readerly assumptions about lyric poetry, and the material conditions of circulation into which Dickinson's editors sent these writings they believed to be lyric poems, have made these texts into the lyrics they now surely are, but in Dickinson's hands never precisely were. Drawing from these prior models, the present essay demonstrates that Melville's letters to Hawthorne became the love letters we known them to be as a result of the contexts and practices by which they were collected, edited, and published.

The love of Melville's letters is not an incidental example for the argument that follows. Indeed, because Melville was far more widely [End Page 120] read posthumously and as a result of his twentieth-century scholarly recovery than he was during life, he offers an excellent case study for testing whether attention to the normative presumptions underwriting the critical practices of collecting, editing, and publishing might leave their mark on the history of sexuality—might, in other words, have tacit effects on what sexuality means or has come to mean for Melville's correspondence, quite apart from what the letters themselves might say. This inquiry is complicit with the trend in the field of nineteenth-century American studies to accept Michel Foucault's insight that sexuality is produced discursively.7 However, the meaning of Foucault's insight is changing as scholars become more attentive to the ways that discourse is produced materially.8 Some of these material practices are palpable and often highly local, and this essay endeavors to show that printing, typesetting, or publishing might be more important to the history of sexuality than we have previously assumed. Though the following pages take issue with some queer readings of Melville's letters to Hawthorne, the point of these objections is surely not to de-eroticize the Melville-Hawthorne relationship. Without ruling out the possibility that Melville's queer feelings for Hawthorne might have been what would now be considered homosexual, the argument I shall advance in this essay is that Melville's affections for Hawthorne were ordinary.


To call Melville's affection for Hawthorne ordinary is to turn against a critical truism that considers Hawthorne to be Melville's most valued interlocutor during their acquaintance in 1850–51. Yet, this truism is built on a surprisingly small amount of evidence—ten letters, totaling fewer than nine thousand words. Chief among these letters is one from 17(?) November 1851, in which Melville responds to a now-lost letter containing Hawthorne's assessment of Moby-Dick:

My dear Hawthorne: People think that if a man has undergone any hardship, he should have a reward; but for my part, if I have done the hardest possible day's work, and then come to sit down in a corner and eat my supper comfortably—why, then I don't think I deserve any reward for my hard day's work—for am I not now at peace? Is not my supper good? My peace and my supper are my reward, my dear Hawthorne. So your joy-giving and exultation-breeding letter is not my reward for my ditcher's work with that book, but is the good goddess's bonus over and above what was stipulated for—for not one man in five cycles, who is wise, will expect appreciative recognition [End Page 121] from his fellows, or any one of them. Appreciation! Recognition! Is Jove appreciated? Why, ever since Adam, who has got to the meaning of this great allegory—the world? Then we pygmies must be content to have our paper allegories but ill comprehended. I say your appreciation is my glorious gratuity. In my proud, humble way,—a shepherd-king,—I was lord of a little vale in the solitary Crimea; but you have now given me the crown of India. But on trying it on my head, I found it fell down on my ears, notwithstanding their asinine length—for it's only such ears that sustain such crowns.9

Melville's acknowledgment of Hawthorne's praise for Moby-Dick takes a series of metaphysical flights the likes of which readers of Melville's prose will be familiar, as the humble reward of supper for work is contrasted to the categorical values of "Appreciation" and "Recognition," as laboring "pygmies" work in isolation from Jove, and as the vales of Crimea stand against the crown of India. In a fashion that readers of Melville's novels will find typical, these metaphorical contrasts are piled upon one another, yoking different geographies, mythologies, and political economies into a single explanation, all of which are undercut at the end of the paragraph with a bodily humor—the overlarge ears that are nonetheless too small to hold up an unexpected though much cherished crown.

This stockpiling of conceits continues through the whole of the letter (including archangels, Socrates, Festus, fishes, the Godhead, and the breaking of bread). The first of two postscripts lights upon yet another metaphor: "The divine magnet is in you, and my magnet responds. Which is the biggest? A foolish question—they are One."10 Here, Melville expresses something more than gratitude. He suggests that Hawthorne's valuation of Moby-Dick is not so much a cause of Melville's joy as it is an effect of a sympathetic unity between these two men, a single force animating both of them. Instead of saying thank you for recognizing me, Melville seems to say, I thank you for sharing in being me.

Curious and complex as these expressions are, they have rarely been read as particular literary figurations and are more often read in terms of a gestalt that centers on Melville's feelings. That is to say, this letter is not valued by Melville critics for its writerly conceits but for the authorial psychology that it supposedly betrays. Thus, Newton Arvin's otherwise judicious biography of Melville reads the letter of 17(?) November 1851 in nationalist terms, as evidence that, in Hawthorne, Melville had found "a creative mind, in America, to which he could feel at once inherently akin."11 Likewise, as patient an [End Page 122] archival scholar as Hershel Parker concludes the first volume of his exhaustive Melville biography with the unverifiable assertion that the day on which Melville received Hawthorne's letter "was the happiest day of Melville's life."12 And even a critic with as much aesthetic sense as F. O. Matthiessen observes somewhat flat-footedly that Melville's letter indicates "the feeling that his aims had been understood was so beyond anything he had grown to hope for that it had swept him out of control."13 While Matthiessen's assessment is not implausible, it ignores the fact that Melville goes out of his way to say the opposite of what Matthiessen attributes to him, placing rhetorical emphasis on the luxury of Hawthorne's praise, rather than the necessity of it. On the other hand, when critics have paid attention to this letter's rhetoric, its prose stylings too are looped back into an account of Melville's psychology. For example, the reemergence of the postscript's magnet metaphor in Pierre—Isabel's seduction of Pierre with the assertion that "thou hast that heavenly magnet in thee"—has supported interpretations that Melville's novel is a roman-à-clef about Hawthorne.14

The critical emphasis on Melville's psychology and Hawthorne's unique place in it, however, would have to be qualified if it were more widely acknowledged that the letter of 17(?) November 1851 is the only one of the ten to Hawthorne in which Melville exhibits such exuberance; and furthermore, it is in fact only one of two letters in the extant corpus in which Melville responds to what appears to be praise for his writing. In the other letter, written to Richard Henry Dana and dated 1 May 1850, Melville opens with terms resonant with his postscript to Hawthorne:

My Dear Dana—I thank you very heartily for your friendly letter; and am more pleased than I can well tell, to think that any thing I have written about the sea has at all responded to your own impressions of it. Were I inclined to undue vanity, this one fact would be far more to me than acres & square miles of the superficial shallow praise of the publishing critics. And I am specially delighted at the thought, that those strange, congenial feelings, with which after my first voyage, I for the first time read "Two Years Before the Mast", and while so engaged was, as it were, tied & welded to you by a sort of Siamese link of affectionate sympathy-—that these feelings should be reciprocated by you, in your turn, and be called out by any White Jackets or Redburns of mine—this is indeed delightful to me.15

Though somewhat more reserved in tone and (for lack of a better word) degree, Melville expresses himself to Dana with an effusion [End Page 123] of feeling and mixed metaphors, much as he would 18 months later in his letter to Hawthorne. More significantly, this letter to Dana rehearses the metaphysical oneness of the postscript to Hawthorne, there described as a "divine magnet" to which "my magnet responds," and here described as "a sort of Siamese link of affectionate sympathy." Though these metaphors assume very different vehicles, the tenor in both instances is of a profound and involuntary connection that renders indivisible two units that might be imagined to be distinct.

What emerges from a consideration of the Dana letter in relation to the Hawthorne letter, then, is the likelihood that Melville enjoyed receiving praise for his books, and that he enjoyed even more receiving praise from men whose books he admired. The plausible banality of this point, however, has been widely overlooked in favor of a narrative that promotes Hawthorne as the one person by whom Melville felt truly understood. This conclusion is widely accepted, although it is neither inevitable nor obviously true. My point, however, is not to suggest that someone should interpret Pierre as a roman-à-clef about Dana, so much as it is to demonstrate that, given the truisms of modern Melville criticism, doing so would be absurd. I have argued that the narrative of literary friendship in which Hawthorne occupies for Melville a uniquely sympathetic place is the result of a superficial examination of a partial amount of the ultimately insufficient evidence of Melville's feelings. Some question remains, however, as to why this central place in critical narratives of Melville's life is occupied, in particular, by Hawthorne.


The importance of Melville's acquaintance with Hawthorne for establishing Melville's posthumous reputation is subtle but persistent. Raymond Weaver, in the earliest book-length study to herald the so-called Melville revival of the 1920s, staked his case for recovering the author of Moby-Dick by repeatedly appealing to that author's acquaintance with Hawthorne.16 A quoted letter to Hawthorne opens Weaver's Herman Melville: Mariner and Mystic, and the name Hawthorne is in fact the book's fifth word. Carl Van Doren's The American Novel, the first book-length scholarly study of this topic, likewise quotes from Melville's letters to Hawthorne, naming Hawthorne as Melville's confidant in the first paragraph of its discussion of the latter author.17 Many later critical studies, especially of the post-war period, would consider Melville's and Hawthorne's novels together, but the earlier and more foundational studies worked to establish their lives as intertwined. [End Page 124]

Some part of this intertwining can be understood as an effect of the specific publication history of these letters. Hawthorne's youngest children, Julian and Rose, spent the 1890s raiding their parents' papers and cashing in as much as they were able on their famous father's name. Consequently, a number of Melville's letters to Hawthorne, by virtue of having been written to Hawthorne, circulated in print or in manuscript transcription, rendering them easily accessible to scholars like Weaver and Van Doren a generation later. These published letters to Hawthorne were one of the few leads that early Melville scholars were able to follow in their pursuit of biographical details. By contrast, it was only after Melville had become an object of critical interest that scholars like Weaver attempted to track down his descendants and consequently found his granddaughter, Eleanor Melville Metcalf, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with the uncollated manuscript of Billy Budd moldering in a tin box in her attic.18

Fundamentally, however, the ability of Julian and Rose to transact on their father's name had to do with Hawthorne's consistent popularity as an author. Following the 6 March 1851 publication of House of the Seven Gables, Hawthorne's romance went through three printings in the first 60 days, ranking among the highest volume short-term sales of any book to date published by the major Boston firm Ticknor and Fields.19 Such sales figures were widely taken to be a mark of intrinsic literary merit in the antebellum period, where little snobbery was spared for popular books. The far more snobbish alignment of popular books with lowbrow tastes (and of elite books with highbrow tastes) would obtain after the Civil War, in response to the shifting class and laboring conditions of the postbellum period's rapid industrial expansions.20 (And, ironically, that distinction would later be a means by which scholars in the twentieth century would recuperate Melville's relatively poor nineteenth-century sales figures as indicative of the works' critical value.) Thus, Hawthorne's major commercial success solidified his reputation as an important American literary artist, regardless of the fact that none of the very few books Hawthorne was to publish subsequently would achieve similar sales in his lifetime. Once established on this conjunction of artistic and commercial merits, Hawthorne's reputation would be defended posthumously by a generation of realists, including W. D. Howells and Henry James, who championed the great American romancer on artistic, rather than commercial, grounds.21

A generation still later, when American literature became a scholarly enterprise, branching off from the profession of writing, Hawthorne's [End Page 125] significance would become further entrenched, as he was the only American writer of unquestioned literary value (unlike Ralph Waldo Emerson or Walt Whitman) who wrote consistently on American themes (unlike Washington Irving or James Fenimore Cooper) from a vantage of unquestioned American (read: New England) identity (unlike Edgar Allan Poe or James).22 That is, in the early twentieth century, Hawthorne became a founding figure not only for American literature, but also for the study of it.23 For critics like Weaver and Van Doren, working to recover Melville's comparatively disastrous career, the detail of an acquaintance with Hawthorne was a strike of pure legitimating gold in a way that the detail of a friendship with Everett Duyckinck or an exchange with Dana could never be. To be able to argue that of all people Hawthorne valued a book like Moby-Dick allowed critics to leverage Hawthorne's popularity as a means of redeeming Melville's obscurity.

The ultimate point this legitimacy enabled, however, was to give increased attention to Melville. If, as we saw above, many critics paid less attention to the conceits of Melville's 17(?) November 1851 letter than to its general gestalt, the same is true with attention paid to his works more generally during their period of scholarly recovery.24 Indeed, the man and not the novels became the real object of critical fascination, and the reconstruction of Melville's life became—and, I would argue, remains—absolutely pivotal to the critical conversation surrounding his writings. To be sure, an interest in authorial biography was hardly uncommon among literary critics and literary artists alike in the first half of the twentieth century.25 Melville is certainly not unique as an object of biographical fascination. But given the well-known interpretive fecundity of his novels versus the relative paucity of archival materials surrounding his life, Melville has been subject to biographical analysis a surprisingly large number of times. In the 90 years since Weaver's critical-biographical study, there have been no fewer than a dozen additional critical-biographical studies of Melville in English alone, including those by Meade Minnigerode, Arvin, Leon Howard (1951), Metcalf (1953), Lewis Mumford, William Bixby (1970), Gay Wilson Allen (1971), Miller, Parker, Laurie Robertson-Lorant (1998), Elizabeth Hardwick (2000), and Andrew Delbanco (2005). These works vary in length, scope, and intended audience. Yet their proliferation reflects a pervasive interest in documenting a life that presents not a few material challenges to documentation. Among Melville scholars, it would seem that biography emerges as a version of what David Halperin, in another context, calls a "describable life," a [End Page 126] way of mastering the various and complex phenomenon that is another person by making it into an object of knowledge.26

Melville's letters are routinely put to this same purpose.27 According to Paul Lauter, "[n]o Melville quotation emerged as more popular" in the 1920s and 1930s than one from his 1 June 1851 letter to Hawthorne: "Dollars damn me; and the malicious Devil is forever grinning in upon me, holding the door ajar. … What I feel most moved to write, that is banned,—it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches."28 Lauter further argues that this quotation was deployed in the service of constructing around Melville a "romantic myth of the artist defeated by society."29 Though Lauter does not go on to reflect on the epistolary context of this quotation, it should give us pause to consider that this most quoted line from Melville was not from his novels, but about them. And as Melville discusses his concerns and frustrations more elaborately with Hawthorne than with any other correspondent in his extant letters, these letters to Hawthorne in particular were—and to a large extent still are—read as unguarded expositions of Melville's true feelings. As Hayford, one of the most important twentieth-century expositors of the interpretive alignment of Melville's works and Melville's biography, argued in the mid-1940s, the "Agatha" letter of 13 August 1852 casts light "not only on his friendship with Hawthorne but on the problem of his intentions in writing Pierre and on his state of mind during the months following its completion."30 The biographical imperative that creates a describable life for Melville grants these letters a transparency that Melville's fictions themselves so frequently lack. The letters become keys to the novels.


The widespread use of Melville's letters to make the interpretive case for the truth of Melville's self has created some ambient forgetfulness as to how few letters are known to exist.31 In addition to the letters published or copied by Julian Hawthorne and Rose Hawthorne Lathrop at the end of the nineteenth century, several more were housed in libraries collecting the works of Melville's correspondents, including Duyckinck (at the New York Public Library), Lemuel Shaw (at the Massachusetts Historical Society), and John Murray (in the Murray archives, London). Following an upswing of interest in Melville during the twentieth century, a number of manuscript letters circulated for sale and at auction, and Jay Leyda, working as an erstwhile Hollywood [End Page 127] consultant in the 1940s, bought and resold for a profit at least one of the Melville letters that he transcribed for his monumental Melville Log.32 Melville's letters were also purchased by libraries, and before 1960, scholars transcribed these letters for publication in academic journals like American Literature.33 In several cases, the editing of these letters was not done from original manuscripts but from copies. The much-cited letter to Hawthorne from 17(?) November 1851, for example, is not known to exist in manuscript. It was at one time in the possession of Lathrop, who published it in the Century Magazine in 1894 as part of a series of letters to and from her parents, and reprinted it in 1897 in her book Memories of Hawthorne.34 Nevertheless, on the basis of other examples of Melville's handwriting, Hayford accused her and her brother Julian of "textual butchery" in his 1945 Yale dissertation, and, in the absence of a manuscript, supplied a number of corrections (including "Jove" where Lathrop had transcribed "love") that are now accepted as authoritative.35

The editing and publication of Melville's letters had enough traction as a scholarly activity in the second quarter of the twentieth century that by 1960, when Merrell R. Davis and William H. Gilman's first edition of Melville's collected correspondence appeared in print, only 43 letters of the 271 letters and drafts had not been previously published.36 Over the next 30 years, additional letters surfaced, though in even smaller numbers. In 1983, when the New York Public Library acquired more than five hundred Melville manuscript papers found in an upstate New York barn, among them were just three additional letters by Melville and one (the only known one) from Hawthorne to him.37 One of these letters, to Allan Melville from Herman on the birth of the latter's son Malcolm, was published with book-length commentary in 1992.38 The complete revision and reissue of Melville's Correspondence in 1993, edited by Lynn Horth, as a volume in the authoritative Northwestern-Newberry edition of Melville's writings, includes a total of 313 letters, only 29 of which were previously unpublished.39 Melville undoubtedly wrote more letters than the 313 extant, and indeed the impressive textual apparatus of Horth's edition of the Correspondence carefully notes when letters received by Melville or his correspondents make mention of missives written by Melville that are as-yet unlocated. While the actual number of missing or destroyed letters is a matter for pure speculation, the incompleteness of the existing corpus comes into relief with simple arithmetic: 313 letters would mean that on average Melville wrote fewer than six letters a year for every year of his adult life. For a nineteenth-century literary man and head of household, even double that figure would be remarkably small. [End Page 128]

Imperfect collecting is certainly not unique to the case of Melville's letters, and there are a variety of ways that historians, critics, biographers, and other scholars have devised to deal with incomplete collections or fragmentary evidence. In the case of Melville scholarship, the tacit consensus has been to treat the extant correspondence as precious. Such a consensus is entirely justified, given the material difficulties that have been attendant upon the scholarly activities of collecting and collating Melville's papers posthumously. However, what I seek to make as clear as possible in this essay is that such a consensus is entirely unjustified when it assumes that the value of Melville's letters comes with the supposed access that such letters give to Melville's interior consciousness. Thus, when the editors of the "Malcolm" letter argue that Melville's mode of writing shows that "he is impatient to proceed with what is really on his mind," or when the editors of the Correspondence note that "these surviving texts provide only a spotty chronicle of Melville's outer, and intermittent revelations of his inner, life," I argue that each party necessarily distorts the nature of self-representation in an epistolary context.40

Far from the simple expression of authorial identity, letters are a genre of self-expression, whose rising popularity in the Anglophone world in the seventeenth century led to recognition of generic protocols. By the mid-nineteenth century in the United States, the development of a reliable postal service helped to normalize the phenomenon by which people could experience intimacy with one another by means of written communication circulated over significant distances.41 During this period, letter writing expanded across the terrain of everyday life to include a mixture of personal and impersonal kinds of communications; but even a letter's more unguarded expressions of thought or feeling remained mediated, both by the material fact of ink-and-paper writing, as well as by the generic fact that letters require an addressee.42 Of course, genre is by no means intransigently opposed to individual expressiveness, and indeed many generic expressions are articulated and received as meaningful.43 But because genres by definition shape and, in that sense, hone expression, popular letter manuals and writing guides often emphasized the need for forms of expression that would respectfully communicate the appropriate version of one's self to others.44 That is to say, as letter writing became a more commonplace means of expression, it did not become any less generic.

To read Melville's letters as unguarded expressions of his inner life or of what is really on his mind, then, is to misunderstand letters as such. Moreover, doing so is also to misunderstand something that [End Page 129] Melville seems to have understood. The only extant meditation on letter writing from the period of Melville's letters to Hawthorne is a passage from Pierre, in which the eponymous hero revives an epistolary correspondence with his urbane cousin Glen:

Nor could [Pierre] but now applaud a still subsequent letter from Glen, which abruptly, and almost with apparent indecorousness, under the circumstances, commenced the strain of friendship without any overture of salutation whatever; as if at last, owing to its infinite delicateness, entirely hopeless of precisely defining the nature of their mystical love, Glen chose rather to leave that precise definition to the sympathetical heart and imagination of Pierre; while he himself would go on to celebrate the general relation, by many a sugared sentence of miscellaneous devotion. It was a little curious and rather sardonically diverting, to compare these masterly, yet not wholly successful, and indeterminate tactics of the accomplished Glen, with the unfaltering stream of Beloved Pierres, which not only flowed along the top margin of all his earlier letters, but here and there, from their subterranean channel, flashed out in bright intervals, through all the succeeding lines.45

Glen's letter befuddles Pierre with its lack of salutation. The effect of the letter on Pierre is both intimate and alienating, yet the passage registers that this effect is not due to what Glen professes. Indeed, while Glen's professed sentiments are friendly, devotional, and sympathetic, it is his engagement with the generic protocols of letter writing that gives Pierre pause, for the mode of writing is "indeterminate," "masterly, yet not wholly successful." Glen's failure to acknowledge the lapse in their correspondence, his inattention to the occasion of writing—one of the signal features of the letter as a genre—produces for Pierre a series of misgivings. While the novel's unfolding shows that these misgivings are merited, what matters most for present purposes is how acutely aware Pierre appears in this passage that letter writing is a highly generic activity. Far from being a pure expression of the truth of Glen's self, or the truth of his relationship with Pierre, this letter is a complicated performance of "delicateness," nuance, and exactitude, requiring a well-honed (though here, imperfect) generic literacy on the part of both writer and reader.

What Pierre sees so clearly and so ominously in this passage has been confirmed by later scholars as simply an ordinary feature of nineteenth-century personal writings more generally. Bryan Waterman warns that early American diarists always logged their personal experiences with particular audiences in mind.46 Looking at the case of Louisa [End Page 130] May Alcott, Glenn Hendler argues that children's intimate writings, such as diary or journal entries, were circulated among adults, who offered topical and stylistic guidance, training the child "to think of herself even in her supposedly most intimate moments as performing for an audience."47 More generally, Richard Brodhead has called such pedagogical practices a kind of "disciplinary intimacy," and Mary Loeffelholz has argued that they extend beyond personal writings to genres such as lyric poetry.48 While letters—like diaries, journals, and lyric poems—have been often accepted during the twentieth century as personal expressions, it is instead the case that during the nineteenth century all these forms were widely understood to walk a generic line between private and public.


Thus far, this essay has argued that the critical construction of Hawthorne as Melville's love object was as much a projection on the part of critics as it was the result of a circumscribed reading of Melville's letters. The sheer extravagance of Melville's prose to Hawthorne—an extravagance that, even I concede, manifests more fully here than in any extant letters to others—is widely read as the expression of genuine feeling. To read any representation as a truth of something other than representation is a critically naïve move, although one that was considerably more commonplace among scholars in the early twentieth century than at that century's end. My interest is not to chastise early Melville scholars for subscribing to the common sense of their times, so much as it is to demonstrate how these earlier assumptions remain normatively in play as the critical conversation that aligns Melville's works and life persists into twenty-first century Melville criticism.

In the case of Melville's letters to Hawthorne, not only do earlier assumptions persist about the unguardedness of Melville's feelings, but so do assumptions about the durability of those feelings. On this account, Hawthorne was not only Melville's love object, but in fact the love of Melville's life. In addition to reading Pierre as a roman-àclef about Hawthorne, scholars have argued that Melville's "Monody" (written sometime between 1860 and 1891) and the character Vine in Clarel (published in 1876) are also affectionate if ambivalent portraits of Hawthorne. That is, critics have argued that for between ten and forty years after their 18-month friendship, Melville devoted ongoing emotional and creative energies toward processing his affections for Hawthorne. [End Page 131]

The supposed durability of Melville's feelings for Hawthorne in these accounts is rivaled only by the durability of the accounts themselves, which began with a 1929 essay by Mumford and have continued most recently with a spirited 2010 blog post by Caleb Crain and a 2016 historical novel by Mark Beauregard.49 To be sure, the motives in this debate are not uniform, and generally speaking the older generations of scholars characterize Melville's attraction to Hawthorne as primarily artistic (to the exclusion of the sexual), while a younger generation characterizes that attraction as primarily sexual. Despite these differences, however, here as in much of the scholarly literature reviewed in this essay, Hawthorne outshines any other candidates for Melville's affections, and, moreover, he does so unfailingly from the moment they first meet on 5 August 1850.

Underwriting the critical assessment of Melville's affection for Hawthorne, then, is the assumption that the durability of this affection would be further proof of its significance. This assumption regulated the norms of heterosexual intimacy during the middle of the twentieth century in the United States, between the end of WWI and the rise of divorce in the post-WWII period.50 Though historians have shown that many heterosexual intimacies during this period were not in fact enduring, durability represented a pervasive ideological standard according to which intimacies were defined as meaningful: true love lasts forever.51 The pervasiveness of this ideology has begun to wane at least since the 1980s, due in part to increased divorce rates, and due in part to the emergent visibility of queer voluntary associations—in Kath Weston's phrase, families we choose—whose multiple configurations since before the gay liberation era have decoupled the ways generation and progress were often imagined in an earlier period.52 Subsequently, it has become much more common in many different aspects of US culture to accept that short-lived affective, erotic, or sexual encounters are no less intimate for being unenduring.53

Yet given the slowness of this shift in understandings of intimacy, there is every reason why Melville critics during the mid-twentieth century might have gravitated toward reading intimate durability as a mark of significance in their estimations of the Melville-Hawthorne relationship. These critics shared in the normative assumptions of their own historical moments, and the fact that they did so is not in itself a problem. Rather, the problem is that those normative assumptions continue to occupy many of the gaps in critical readings of Melville's correspondence. Because the correspondence is incomplete, the letters to Hawthorne (or any of Melville's texts that can be interpreted to be [End Page 132] about him) are often taken synecdochally. By this protocol, instances of love are taken to be fragments of a larger love, individual letters are presumed to be pieces of a pattern. And because the letters do not definitively suggest the nature of that pattern, the gaps were filled with common sense. As a consequence, the reasoning seems to have gone, if Melville loved Hawthorne one day in November of 1851, perhaps he loved Hawthorne one day in 1876 as well.

Perhaps he did. But such a way of filling in the gaps may also obscure the materials that surround them. Due to the posthumous scholarly recovery of Melville—long after the estate was parceled, the library disassembled, the letters burned—the desire to know more than we do about Melville's life has structured Melville scholarship in the twentieth century in a manner that is unique among so-called major American authors. The incredibly fragmentary nature and post-facto assembly of Melville's personal papers certainly leaves scholars wanting a more coherent whole than we have, not least because we know pieces are missing. Melville's reference in the letter of 17(?) November 1851 to Hawthorne's "joy-giving and exultation-breeding letter" is but one among many tantalizing allusions to documents that are lost to history and scholarship alike. The critical desire to know more than we do is understandable, and many of the educated guesses it invites are forgivable. To paraphrase Jackson's tongue-in-cheek observation, what is perceived as absent from the corpus of writing has long belonged to critics to supply.54

We need not find fault with earlier critics, then, should we wish to insist that it is worth keeping account of what among these fragments is a letter and what a guess. Keeping such accounts requires acknowledging the ideological and cultural limits of earlier critics—with the full awareness that if we do work that is worthy of being read in the future, the scholars of the future may need to estimate the limits of our own time. The intellectual purpose of estimating limits and keeping accounts is to identify and examine the legacy of the past in our critical present. In the case of Melville's letters to Hawthorne, it means seeing how the ways that we approach these texts are necessarily structured by forms of intimacy that obtained, not necessarily when the letters were first written, but when the letters were first read by scholars.

By way of conclusion, I wish to demonstrate that the letters contain other evidence, which points scholars away from experiencing fragments in terms of loss and, more poignantly, toward experiencing them in terms of their non-durability. The penultimate paragraph of the 17(?) November 1851 letter contains one of the most stunningly moving passages in all of Melville's writing: [End Page 133]

This is a long letter, but you are not at all bound to answer it. Possibly, if you do answer it, and direct it to Herman Melville, you will missend it—for the very fingers that now guide this pen are not precisely the same that just took it up and put it on this paper. Lord, when shall we be done changing? Ah! it's a long stage, and no inn in sight, and night coming, and the body cold. But with you for a passenger, I am content and can be happy. I shall leave the world, I feel, with more satisfaction for having come to know you. Knowing you persuades me more than the Bible of our immortality.55

Here, Melville ponders the integrity of his own person, his own authorship, and his own affections. The last of these he clearly finds assuring, yet the letter also indicates that he finds none of these are assured. Indeed, if "the very fingers that now guide this pen are not precisely the same that just took it up and put it on this paper," if we are not done changing, if people cannot expect a perfect continuity with our own past, this letter counters this discontinuity with the strong possibility of contentment.

By contrast to the rhetorical and figure-laden intensity of other passages in this letter, Melville's diagnosis of his own self-difference seems almost measured. Here, his rhetorical interest is not in stockpiling conceits or taking metaphysical flights, but in shifting verb tenses. Though the verbs used (to be, to direct, to feel) are not themselves especially unusual, the shift in tense produces a singular, if subtle, effect. Moving from the present (is, are), to the future conditional ("if… answer … will missend"), to the past ("just took," "just … put"), to the present (am, can be), the letter arrives in the future perfect ("having come to know"). Melville underscores that his contentment will have been. From this vantage, Melville imagines his affection for Hawthorne after his own ultimate dissolution in death. And while love for Hawthorne is undoubtedly the occasion for Melville's writing, absolutely nothing in this letter indicates that love requires either an object or a duration in order to count as love. Instead, the letter supposes that affection and contentment can be measured by a standard that exists beyond or outside of the durability of human relations.56

"Ordinary" may seem like an odd name for the kind of durable though impersonal contentment that characterizes the representation of Melville's affection for Hawthorne in this letter. But in using this term, I mean to echo Kathleen Stewart's discussion of ordinary affects, her name for the kinds of "public feelings that begin and end in broad circulation."57 The epistolary form of Melville's letters exemplifies circulation, inasmuch as nineteenth-century letters were read by more [End Page 134] than their nominal addressees—and Melville would likely have assumed that at the very least Sophia Hawthorne, Nathaniel's wife and another of Melville's correspondents, would have the opportunity to read the effusive letters he sent to her husband. But, as I have been suggesting, the ordinary affects of Melville's letters to Hawthorne also exemplify circulation insofar as the feelings they transmit are described more like autonomous forces and less like genuine expressions belonging to individual people. This passage—and arguably other of Melville's works from the early 1850s (think of Moby-Dick chapters like "A Squeeze of the Hand" or, in a very different mood, "The Symphony")—leverages the phenomenal self-difference of feeling against the supposed coherence of individual identity. Self-difference emerges in Melville's correspondence as a condition of the ordinary, an animating force that registers across both the life and the works, making loves that aren't (or are only incidentally) homosexual seem queer indeed.

Whatever a feeling is, it is not identical to its textual representation. We cannot finally know how Melville himself may have felt about Hawthorne, for his state of mind would be unrecoverable, even if any number of letters had not been lost. Reading the extant letters, however, it becomes clear that Melville's letters to Hawthorne offer a complex rhetorical and affective performance. Their complexity—indeed, their power—suffers no diminution for circulating, for assuming generic conventions, for being ordinary. As Sianne Ngai has argued, aesthetic response can be based on "milder or equivocal feelings," and these provide a useful heuristic for reminding us of the "continuousness and everydayness of our aesthetic relation to the often artfully designed."58 Though Melville's representations in these letters may not be mild or in any simple sense equivocal, they are certainly artfully designed. And the fact of that designedness should cause scholars no worry. It would be a critical category error to suppose that the extravagant surface of these letters somehow precluded the historical and experiential reality of any emotional depth to which they might refer. Instead, that surface is merely the part of the letters left for scholars to collect, to access, and to interpret. To read them is not to find any states of mind, any true feelings, or any enduring relations. To read them is not to find Herman Melville. But, even in the absence of these things, to read these letters is to discover that long after there will have been a Hawthorne, and long after there will have been a Melville, there will have been love. [End Page 135]

Jordan Alexander Stein
Fordham University


Thanks to the participants of the 2011 Pomona College symposium, "As Yet Unnamed: Queer Nineteenth Centuries," especially Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Jennifer Doyle, Aaron Kunin, Sarah Mesle, and Christian Reed. Tim Cassedy, Chris Castiglia, Colin Dayan, Adam Fales, Travis Foster, Susan Gillman, and Tim Stewart-Winter were likewise generous with careful readings and excellent ideas.

1. The canonical source for this date is Horatio Bridge, Personal Recollections of Nathaniel Hawthorne (New York: Harper & Bros., 1893), 123.

2. The substance of Nathaniel Hawthorne's letter requests that Herman Melville run some errands for him in Pittsfield, and half the epistle is written by Sophia Hawthorne. See Hawthorne, The Letters, 1843–1853, in The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 23 vol., ed. Thomas Woodson, L. Neal Smith, and Norman Holmes Pearson (Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 1985), 16:412–13.

3. See Edwin Haviland Miller, Melville (New York: George Brazillier, 1975), 234–50. Readers and scholars had of course noticed the homoerotic aspects of Melville's fiction, and some had posited a connection between these representations and Melville's psychology and biography, including, notably, in Henry A. Murray's introduction to his edition of Melville's Pierre (1949). However, only subsequently did the connection between Melville's apparent homoerotic feelings and Hawthorne as their specific object become more pronounced in scholarship.

4. See Hawthorne and Melville: Writing a Relationship, ed. Jana L. Argersinger and Leland S. Person (Athens: Univ. of Georgia Press, 2008); and The Divine Magnet: Herman Melville's Letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne, ed. Mark Niemeyer (Ashville: Orison Books, 2016).

5. See Jonathan Arac, "F. O. Matthiessen: Authorizing an American Renaissance," in The American Renaissance Reconsidered, ed. Walter Benn Michaels and Donald E. Pease (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1985), 90–112; Pease, "Moby-Dick and the Cold War," in The American Renaissance Reconsidered, 113–155; and William V. Spanos, The Errant Art of Moby-Dick: The Canon, the Cold War, and the Struggle for American Studies (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 1995). The most exciting recent engagement with this body of critical work is Castiglia, "Cold War Allegories and the Politics of Criticism," in The New Cambridge Companion to Herman Melville, ed. Robert S. Levine (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2014), 219–32; see also his more recent The Practices of Hope: Literary Criticism in Disenchanted Times (New York: New York Univ. Press, 2017).

6. See Virginia Jackson, Dickinson's Misery: A Theory of Lyric Reading (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2005).

7. See Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1990).

8. For a fantastic qualification to Foucault's interpretation, see Peter Coviello, Tomorrow's Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: New York Univ. Press, 2013).

9. Melville to Hawthorne, 17(?) November 1851, in Correspondence, ed. Lynn Horth, in The Writings of Herman Melville, 15 vol., ed. Harrison Hayford (Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press and the Newberry Library, 1993), 14:211–12.

10. Melville to Hawthorne, 17(?) November 1851, in Correspondence, 213.

11. Newton Arvin, Herman Melville (New York: Viking, 1964), 137.

12. Hershel Parker, Herman Melville, A Biography: Volume 1, 1819–1851 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1996), 883. [End Page 136]

13. F. O. Matthiessen, American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1941), 251.

14. Melville, Pierre, or, The Ambiguities, in The Writings of Herman Melville, 15 vol., ed. Hayford (Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1971), 7:157. See James Creech, Closet Writing/Gay Reading: The Case of Melville's Pierre (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1993); and Monika Mueller, This Infinite Fraternity of Feeling: Gender, Genre, and Homoerotic Crisis in Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance and Melville's Pierre (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 1996).

15. Melville to Richard Henry Dana, 1 May 1850, in Correspondence, 160. Dana's original letter to Melville is not collected among the Dana Family Papers, 1822–1956, housed in the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard Univ. I have been otherwise unable to locate it.

16. See Raymond M. Weaver, Herman Melville: Mariner and Mystic (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1921).

17. See Carl Van Doren, The American Novel (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921), 69.

18. Hershel Parker discusses the details of the "jappaned tin cake-box" or "bread box" (Reading Billy Budd [Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1990], 44, 45).

19. See The Cost Books of Ticknor and Fields and Their Predecessors, 1832–1858, ed. Warren S. Tryon and William Charvat (New York: The Bibliographical Society of America, 1949), 188–89.

20. See Lawrence W. Levine, Highbrow/Lowbrow: The Emergence of Cultural Hierarchy in America (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1988).

21. See Richard H. Brodhead, The School of Hawthorne (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1986). On Hawthorne's postbellum reputation more generally, see Edwin Cady, "'The Wizard's Hand': Hawthorne, 1864–1900," in Hawthorne: Centenary Essays, ed. Roy Harvey Pierce (Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 1964), 317–34; David Leverenz, "Mrs. Hawthorne's Headache: Reading The Scarlet Letter," Nineteenth-Century Literature 37.4 (1983): 552–75; Jane Tompkins, Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790–1860 (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1985), 28–30; and Lawrence Buell, The Dream of the Great American Novel (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 2014), 71–73.

22. See Nina Baym, "Early Histories of American Literature: A Chapter in the Institution of New England," American Literary History 1.3 (1989): 459–88.

23. See Elizabeth Renker, The Origins of American Literature Studies (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2010), 53.

24. For an alternative consideration of the scholarly narratives of Melville's so-called recovery, see Jordan Alexander Stein, "American Literary History and Queer Temporalities," American Literary History 25.4 (2013): 855–69; and "History's Dick Jokes: On Melville and Hawthorne," LA Review of Books, 15 December 2015, Both pieces are indebted to Kathleen E. Kier, "The Revival that Failed: Elizabeth Shaw Melville and the Stedmans: 1891–1894," Women's Studies 7.1–2 (1980): 75–84; Elizabeth Renker, "Herman Melville, Wife Beating, and the Written Page," American Literature 66.1 (1994): 123–50; and Adam Fales, "Melville's Scrivener: Elizabeth Shaw Melville, Bibliography, and Literary History," Journal of the History of Ideas Blog, 10 July 2017, [End Page 137]

25. Mark McGurl refers to this dynamic as "autopoesis" (The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing [Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 2009], 48–49).

26. David M. Halperin, Saint Foucault: Toward a Queer Hagiography (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1995).

27. Elizabeth Hewitt's work provides a notable exception. Turning against the biographical basis of interest in the Hawthorne-Melville correspondence, she argues instead that letter writing serves both authors "as a model for testing the limits of a democratic poetics that is of central concern to their works" (Correspondence and American Literature, 1770–1865 [Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004], 90).

28. Paul Lauter, "Melville Climbs the Canon," American Literature 66.1 (1994): 11; Melville to Hawthorne, 1 June 1851, in Correspondence, 190.

29. Lauter, 11.

30. Hayford, "The Significance of Melville's 'Agatha' Letters," ELH 13.4 (1946): 299.

31. My use of the phrase "truth of the self" throughout this essay signals an indebtedness to Foucault's framework for understanding subjectivity or what he calls "the instituted models of self-knowledge and their history" ("Subjectivity and Truth," in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, in The Essential Works of Michel Foucault 1954–1984, 3 vol., trans. Robert Hurley, ed. Paul Rabinow [New York: Free Press, 1997], 1:87).

32. See Enter Isabel: The Herman Melville Correspondence of Clare Spark and Paul Metcalf, ed. Paul Metcalf (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1991), 68. Jay Leyda purchased Melville's 8 December 1858 letter to James Grant Wilson in April or May of 1947 from Charles Goodspeed, of Goodspeed's Book Shop in Boston, for $35, and resold it in July of 1949 through Walter R. Benjamin, an autograph dealer in New York, for $50. The details of these transactions are preserved, respectively, in box 8, folder 1, and box 7, folder 1 of the Jay Leyda Papers (Collection 460), Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, Univ. of California, Los Angeles. See also Melville, Correspondence, 328–29. Evidence of the increasing market value of Melville's letters between the 1940s and the 1950s can be found among the miscellanies in the Melville papers in the New York Public Library, which records two letters offered for sale by Charles Hamilton, a New York book dealer in a 28 November, 1956 catalog: one 15 December 1863 to George M. Laughlin for $265 and one 20 January 1867 to Charles William Stoddard for $300 (see Gansevoort-Lansing Collection, 1650–1919, New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archives Division, box 309, folder 8). Both letters were purchased by the Barrett Library of the Univ. of Virginia, in whose collections they remain. For their earlier provenance, see Correspondence, 388, 407.

33. See, for example, S. E. Morison, "Melville's 'Agatha' Letter to Hawthorne," The New England Quarterly 2.2 (1929): 296–307; Luther S. Mansfield, "Glimpses of Herman Melville's Life in Pittsfield, 1850–1851," American Literature 9.1 (1937): 26–48; Hayford, "Two New Letters of Herman Melville," ELH 11.1 (1944): 76–83; John H. Birss, "'A Mere Sale to Effect,' with Letters of Herman Melville," New Colophon 1 (1948): 239–55; and Bernard R. Jerman, "'With Real Admiration': More Correspondence Between Melville and Bentley," American Literature 25.3 (1953): 307–13.

34. See Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, "The Hawthornes in Lennox. Told in Letters by Nathaniel and Mrs. Hawthorne," Century Magazine 49.13 (1894), 90. Reprinted in Lathrop, Memories of Hawthorne (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1897), 156–60. The earliest known copies of a number of the other Melville-Hawthorne letters are those that appear printed in Julian Hawthorne, Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife, 2 vol. (Boston: Osgood, 1884). [End Page 138]

35. Hayford, Melville and Hawthorne: A Biographical and Critical Study (PhD diss., Yale Univ., 1945), 359.

36. See The Letters of Herman Melville, ed. Merrell R. Davis and William H. Gilman (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1960). This edition had been preceded by two other, substantially less complete efforts: Meade Minnigerode, Some Personal Letters of Herman Melville and a Bibliography (New York: Brick Row Book Shop, 1922); and Family Correspondence of Herman Melville, 1830–1904, ed. Victor Hugo Paltsits (New York: New York Public Library, 1929).

37. See John and Carolyn DeMarco, "Finding the New Melville Papers," Melville Society Extracts 56 (1983): 1–3. An inventory of the papers can be found in Susan Davis, "More from NYPL's Long Vaticans," Melville Society Extracts 57 (1984): 5–7.

38. See Hennig Cohen and Donald Yannella, Herman Melville's Malcolm Letter: "Man's Final Lore" (New York: Fordham Univ. Press, 1992).

39. See Horth, "Letters Lost, Letters Found: A Progress Report on Melville's Correspondence," Melville Society Extracts 81 (1990): 1–9; and Melville, Correspondence, 819.

40. Cohen and Yannella, 16; Melville, Correspondence, 774.

41. See David M. Henkin, The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2006).

42. For a generative dilation on the materiality of these letters, see Jonathan Senchyne, "Herman Melville's Queer Paper Allegories," in Our Paper Allegories: Intimacy, Publicity, and Material Textuality in Colonial and Antebellum American Literature (PhD dissertation, Cornell Univ., 2012).

43. See Lauren Berlant, The Female Complaint: The Unfinished Business of Sentimentality in American Culture (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 2008).

44. See Konstantin Dierks, In My Power: Letter Writing and Communications in Early America (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), 141–88.

45. Melville, Pierre, 219.

46. See Bryan Waterman, "Harry Potter, My Daughter, Elihu Smith, and Me," Common-place 2.1 (2001),

47. Glenn Hendler, Public Sentiments: Structures of Feeling in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2001), 134.

48. Richard H. Brodhead, Cultures of Letters: Scenes of Reading and Writing in Nineteenth-Century America (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1993), 17–18. See Mary Loeffelholz, From School to Salon: Reading Nineteenth-Century American Women's Poetry (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 2004).

49. See Lewis Mumford, Herman Melville (New York: Literary Guild of America, 1929), 264–65; Leyda, The Melville Log: A Documentary Life of Herman Melville, 1819–1891 (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1951), 669; Robert K. Martin, Hero, Captain, and Stranger: Male Friendship, Social Critique, and Literary Form in the Sea Novels of Herman Melville (Chapel Hill: Univ. of North Carolina Press, 1986), 97; Hayford, Melville's "Monody": Really for Hawthorne? (Evanston: Northwestern Univ. Press, 1990); Robert Milder, "Editing Melville's Afterlife," Text: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Textual Studies 9 (1996): 389–407; "'The Ugly Socrates': Melville, Hawthorne, and Homoeroticism," ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance 46.1–2 (2000): 1–49; Corey Evan Thompson, "Melville's 'Monody': Possibly for Malcolm?" ANQ 19.2 (2006): 39–44; Caleb Crain, "Melville's 'Monody' Probably for Hawthorne,"; Erik Hage, The Melville-Hawthorne Connection: A Study of the Literary Friendship (Jefferson: [End Page 139] MacFarland Company, 2014); and Mark Beauregard, The Whale: A Love Story (New York: Viking, 2016).

50. See Nancy Cott, Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 2000).

51. See Hendrik Hartog, Man and Wife in America: A History (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 2002).

52. See Kath Weston, Families We Choose: Lesbians, Gays, Kinship (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1991), 184, 202, and following.

53. See Foucault, "Friendship as a Way of Life," in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth, 135–40; Berlant and Michael Warner, "Sex in Public," Critical Inquiry 24.2 (1998): 547–66; and Warner, The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life (New York: Free Press, 2000), 115–16.

54. See Jackson, 1–3.

55. Melville to Hawthorne, 17(?) November 1851, in Correspondence, 213.

56. See Castiglia, Interior States: Institutional Consciousness and the Inner Life of Democracy in the Antebellum United States (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 2008), 285–87.

57. Kathleen Stewart, Ordinary Affects (Durham: Duke Univ. Press, 2007), 2.

58. Sianne Ngai, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 2012), 58. [End Page 140]

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