Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Study of the Short Fiction

Twayne Publishers, 1993 - 167 pagina's
One of the first American short story writers, Nathaniel Hawthorne is also among the finest. A sampling of his stories reads like an anthology of great literature: My Kinsman, Major Molineux; The Celestial Railroad; The Minister's Black Veil; The Maypole of Merry Mount; The Birthmark. Common to all Hawthorne's work is an intellectual, emotional, and psychological richness that may well remain unparalleled in fiction today. Indeed, as scholars learn more about history, literature, sociology, and psychology, the more they unlock secrets in Hawthorne's work. Few writers, of any generation, genre, or language have shared - or even approached - Hawthorne's lucid vision of the mind's hidden landscape. More remarkable, perhaps, was the compassion he felt for his subjects, while exploring their sin, guilt, cruelty, and arrogance. Human beings, he felt, can afford to face their flaws because they have the capacity to grow beyond them. Even his peers acknowledged his place in literary history: D. H. Lawrence called Hawthorne "the American wonder-child with his magical, allegorical insight"; Henry James wrote an entire book of criticism about him; and Herman Melville, in deference to Hawthorne's "great power of blackness," dedicated Moby Dick to his friend and neighbor.
Nancy Bunge investigates the whole of Hawthorne's short fiction canon, including a number of the less celebrated stories. Her specific and detailed analyses include fresh commentaries on Hawthorne's lush and demanding fiction, including observations afforded by the moral, social, and historical interpretations of the stories. Many of her theories are not found in the extant body of criticism, and still others take the general patterns of critical interpretation to new levels. Bunge's thorough inspection also sheds light on the relation of the fiction to Hawthorne's own biography, including his Puritan roots.

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