The Entanglements of Nathaniel Hawthorne

August 2011
208 pages
9x6 in
Literary Criticism in Perspective
ISBN: 9781571133632
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House

The Entanglements of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Haunted Minds and Ambiguous Approaches

Samuel Chase Coale

The process of Hawthorne's scholarly canonization, and the ongoing critical and cultural discourse on his works.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, celebrated in his own day for sketches that now seem sentimental, came only gradually to be fully appreciated for what his friend Herman Melville diagnosed as the "power of blackness" in his fiction - the complex moral grappling with sin and guilt. By the 1850s, Hawthorne had already been accepted into the American canon, and since then, his works - especially The Scarlet Letter -- have remained ubiquitous in American culture. Along with this has come an explosion of Hawthorne criticism, from New Criticism, New Historicism, and Cultural Studies to queer theory, feminist scholarship, and transatlantic criticism, that shows no signs of slowing.
This book charts Hawthorne's canonization and the ongoing critical discourse, drawing on two senses of "entanglement." First the sense from quantum physics, which allows us to see what were once seen as strict dualisms in Hawthorne as more complex relations where the poles of the would-be dualities play off of and affect each other; second, the sense of critics being tangled up in, caught up in, Hawthorne the man and his work and in previous critics' views of him. Charting the course of Hawthorne criticism as well as his place in popular culture, this book sheds light also on the culture in which his reception has occurred.

Samuel Chase Coale is Professor of American Literature and Culture at Wheaton College, Norton, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Entanglements
The Legacy of The Scarlet Letter: Hawthorne inContemporary Culture
Hawthorne as Nineteenth-Century Morbid Genius
Biographical and Critical Veils in the Nineteenth Century
Biographical Visions of the Twentieth Century
Entangled Polarities: The New Criticism
Doubting Dualisms: The Strategies of Hawthorne'sRomance
Ideological Contexts: Deconstruction, Feminism,the New Historicism, Race, and Entanglement
Works Cited


[A] useful, interesting, and humane book . . . there is much that general readers and undergraduates may find valuable . . . Coale has permitted us a fleeting glimpse at least of his conception of our author's veiled and ghostly visage -- and . . . that is no small accomplishment. RESOURCES FOR AMERICAN LITERARY STUDY

Ultimately The Entanglements of Nathaniel Hawthorne demonstrates that Hawthorne's enduring power lies in his ability to create fiction that evades capture. Fashions in literary theory come and go -- indeed, they are often successfully applied to Hawthorne's writings -- but Coale effectively conveys that there is an elusive quality to Hawthorne's work which makes it at once endlessly fascinating and forever worthy of investigation. THE YEAR'S WORK IN ENGLISH STUDIES

[A] highly elaborate, thorough and illuminating study of Hawthorne criticism. . . . [O]ffers an excellent impression of the abundance and diversity of scholarly approaches to Hawthorne and an enlightening reflection of their theoretical foundations and practical applications. ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR ANGLISTIK UND AMERIKANISTIK

Author Bio

Sam Coale is professor of English at Wheaton College.

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