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From the Editor's Gable.

A kind of serendipity--"unexpected good luck," as would have it--often seems to me to be at work in the business of publishing and editing, and so it was with this issue of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review. Four excellent essays emerged from the review process and arrived at the editor's doorstep for collection and publication in this volume; of those four, three take up, in a variety of ways and from different perspectives, the central concern of Hawthorne's narrators and their relationship to their tales, its characters, and, perhaps, the author himself. This investigation of the topic begins with Michael Colacurcio's "The Teller and the Tale: A Note on Hawthorne's Narrators," which traces and interrogates Hawthorne's dodgy narrators from some of the author's earliest works, like the aborted "Story Teller" collection, The Twice-told Tales, and Mosses, straight on through to The Scarlet Letter and The Blithedale Romance. In the process, he zeroes in on a dominant and pesky conundrum for readers: whom, or what, does one trust when reading Hawthorne, "the teller" or "the tale"? For as we well know, the two are often at odds, or seem to be.

Rachel Boccio comes at the question from a different angle on a single story. In "'What Sort of Man Was Wakefield?': Selfhood and Sovereignty in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Twice-told Tale," Boccio looks at character, narrator, and, ultimately, author, through the interesting lens of concepts of privacy and sovereignty. While Wakefield, she argues, "is unable to sustain 'his right mind'" after divorcing himself from society and others--a kind of "hyperbolic account of the effect of privacy"--the narrator, on the other hand, "as storyteller and as urban spectator, is... a form of... the authoritative, self-determined, personal sovereign." Boccio further contends that "Wakefield" iterates Hawthorne's "astute suspicions," not only about privacy gone wrong, or intense isolation, but also about notions of the sovereignty of the self. Next, Zachary Williams, in "Slowing Down the War: The Sauntering Gaze of Hawthorne's Peaceable Man," takes up the case of the vexed and vexing "Chiefly About War Matters," a piece that has stirred strong and contradictory responses since its publication in 1862. Employing yet another tack, Williams connects this essay and its narrator to the genre and fictional narrators of Washington Irving's Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon. He finds, interestingly, that Hawthorne utilizes the "leisurely" pace of Irving's sketches and the "sauntering gaze[s]" of their narrators as a kind of "aesthetic response" and intervention "to the accelerated temporalities of the war: the speed of modernization... and the rush toward partisanship and absolutism in wartime."

The last of the four essays in this volume, Judith A. Richardson's "Nathaniel Hawthorne's Secret Garden," diverts our attention to an entirely different (and still under-studied) element of Hawthorne's writings: the author's "plant-mindedness." Providinga brief overview of the prevalence of plant and vegetable matter in the fiction, followed by a concentrated enquiry into its place in The House of the Seven Gables, Richardson poses the pertinent question: "Why is Nathaniel Hawthorne--the Man of Mosses, as Melville referred to him... so mossy?.... What happens when we keep the plants in view?" Richardson reaches deep for her answers to this question, including her contention that "rather than being our allegorist-in-chief, [Hawthorne] is instead takingaimperse at the overdetermined metaphorizing, abstracting, or sermonizing usages of plants... in the American culture of his day."

The issue concludes with a book review, the annual "Current Biblio graphy" and news relevant to Hawthorne Society members and Review subscribers, as announced in "Along the Wayside." To share with the Society news, events of interest, calls for papers, etc., please submit such announcements to Associate Editor James Hewitson at or

As always, I recognize with gratitude the invaluable work of my editorial staff, James Hewitson and Michael Demson; my research assistant, Em Lawrence; and the generous support of my institution, Sam Houston State University; my Dean, Dr. Abbey Zink; and my chair, Dr. Jacob Blevins. Many thanks, all.

I also wish to thank members of the Society and subscribers to the Review for their patience as NHR has made the switch to another publishing home--Penn State University Press--and to provide a few reminders of new processes. To submit a manuscript for review, go to, where you will enter information and upload your document. If you need assistance or encounter difficulties, you may contact me directly at or James Hewitson (e-mail above). Changes of address should be sent to: The Johns Hopkins University Press, P.O. Box 19966, Baltimore, MD 21211. Individual memberships should be sent to Christopher Diller, PhD, Treasurer, Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, Professor of English, Berry College, Mt. Berry, GA 30149. For information, contact Chris Diller at

doi: 10.53a5/nathhawtrevi.45.2.iii
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Author:Hall, Julie
Publication:Nathaniel Hawthorne Review
Date:Sep 22, 2019
Next Article:The Teller and the Tale: A Note on Hawthorne's Narrators.

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