Late Hawthorne: a polemical introduction.
This pathetic account of an author who at the height of his fame unaccountably loses his sense of direction is familiar to most of us. It has been told many times and in many different versions, but the outline and gist of the story have always remained the same: in the last years of his life, Hawthorne failed, and failed miserably, as a writer.
The present issue suggests an alternative way of telling this story. In this rendition, Hawthorne comes back to America with a new artistic self-confidence. he has just finished the novel--or romance, as he was wont to call it--that he considered his finest. The Marble Faun is indeed a significant achievement. received as a masterpiece by the general public at the time, it is a novel that investigates the potentials and limitations of imagination in so profound a fashion that it took literary critics most of the twentieth century to catch up with its rhetorical strategies. Writing it at the tail end of a seven year expatriation from his home country, Hawthorne has gained a new understanding of how America is seen abroad, and of how Americans behave abroad. In addition, having spent several years performing the dreary task of American Consul in Liverpool, he has built up some capital--not as much as he had hoped, perhaps, but enough to allow him to concentrate on the vocation he had always set up for himself: that of a writer.
Hawthorne remains remarkably true to this chosen vocation. his return to America coincides with the most tumultuous period in American political history, culminating with the outbreak of the Civil war in 1861. This worries him, yet it does not stop him from writing--on the contrary, it would seem to feed his imagination. domestic worries still vex him--Julian's schooling, Una's health, skyrocketing expenses for ill-planned renovations of his house (including the addition of a tower). he is often depressed, out of spirits. he is increasingly plagued by ill-health, and for the last six-months of his life virtually incapacitated for any kind of work. yet through it all, until the illness (cancer, the biographers now speculate) wholly takes hold of him, he keeps on writing, producing a body of literary writings in three and a half years which in quantitative terms is on par with his famed outpouring in the years of the American renaissance. between 1849 and 1853, Hawthorne wrote some 1300 pages: The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, A Wonder-Book, Tanglewood Tales, and the infamous campaign biography for his friend Franklin Pierce. half a decade later, between 1858 and 1863, he writes just as much: The Marble Faun, The American Claimant, Septimius, The Dolliver Romance, Our Old Home, and "Chiefly about war-matters," or some 1800 pages in all. admittedly, two of the four romances of the latter period are mere fragments in which the story never comes to a close, and Septimius, the most nearly finished of the unfinished romances, was certainly not brought to completion in any traditional sense of the word. Nevertheless, in qualitative terms too, many readers have testified that Hawthorne in his last period wrote as well as ever, despite the prevailing critical consensus on Hawthorne's last phase as an aesthetic shambles.
Our point is not that the above account is truer than the received view. we provide it just to suggest how easy it would be to tell a different story about Hawthorne's last phase than the official one, simply by changing the tenor in which the "facts" are reported. we provide it, also, to highlight how the stories we tell about a writer inevitably come to frame our understanding of his works. unaccountably, critics have assumed, Hawthorne's sense of history failed him in his last years. (1) we believe, on the contrary, that Hawthorne's historical sensibility in general, and his historical understanding of his own cultural situation in particular, did not fail him in his last years but intensified and grew deeper. If critics have been late in catching up with his cultural critique, it is because the literary strategies by which he responded to his historical situation grew more complex in compliance with the increasingly complex nature of that situation.
As we see it, then, the failure of Hawthorne's last phase should not be conceived as an individual author's failure to write, but as a critical community's failure to read. The reason critics have so willingly adopted the notion of the last phase as a failure, we think, is because it meets our narrative desire to impose a sense of closure upon the story of Hawthorne's life and works. The facts in the case are hard enough to seem incontrovertible: Hawthorne was disturbed by the outbreak of the war; his domestic situation was fraught with tensions; he feared that the literary market was under transition; his health was rapidly declining. yet irrefutable as these explanations appear to be--and they recur again and again throughout the secondary literature--they are also and at the same time soft enough to seem to want further support. (2) and this is precisely why the notion of Hawthorne's last phase as a failure has proven irresistible: since the explanations do not explain what they purport to explain, they allow each successive generation of critics to reinvent the failure of Hawthorne's last phase in their own image.
This process of reinvention begins with Edward David son, or more to the point, with the emergence of a strong theoretical paradigm in the form of New Criticism. as we shall see below, David son did not so much supply a new reading of the unfinished works, as provide an explanation for Hawthorne's failure to complete them, an explanation which, in compliance with the tenets of New Criticism, turned this failure into a property of the text itself. (3) Hawthorne's failure, David son argued, was an inability to come up with a dominating symbol along the lines of the scarlet letter, the house, or the veil in the three American romances. with H. H. Waggoner, some fifteen years later, this inability intensifies into "a failure at the center, a failure at the very point where Hawthorne's creative greatness had lain, a failure of meaning and values" (229)--or, to spell it out, a loss of Christian faith, which Waggoner would like to believe Hawthorne regained in writing Dolliver; in his view, this explains why the fragment we have of it is so good. one decade later, Frederick Crews in his psychoanalytic approach to Hawthorne predictably points to the unfinished romances as the "strongest evidence" (243) of the repressed sexual anxiety he takes to be the driving force behind Hawthorne's writing: "No 'meaning' in a rational sense attaches to these fragments, yet they follow the psychoanalytical pattern of symptom-formation with astonishing exactitude; they offer an unceasing flow of repressed fantasy which is counteracted by unceasing denial and distortion" (257). (4) more recently, Richard Brodhead's influential attempt to explain Hawthorne's failure in terms of his canonicity, that is, by "the change he experienced in the cultural status of the writer's work" (70), demonstrates the recent turn toward new historicist models of interpretation. repeating Waggoner's strategy of citing the traditional explanations only to rule them out as insufficient, Brodhead boldly extends Hawthorne's failure to include The Marble Faun, arguing that it "shows the decay of Hawthorne's powers of imaginative resolution already well advanced. [....] Hawthorne's disability really preceded the events that are its purported causes: he was already far gone in incapacitated authorship when the war and his aging began" (69). (5)
Thus it has become the peculiar fate of the writings of Hawthorne's last phase to be at once inscribed into the canon of American literary history, and excluded from it. For almost a century, Hawthorne's last phase has come to signify the fatal failure of Hawthornean romance. The implications of this failure have varied over the years, but its function has remained that of providing a sense of closure to the story of Hawthorne's career, a sense reflecting the ideological outlook of the critic. towards the end of his life, Lionel trilling explains in the closing article of the Hawthorne Centenary Essays (1964), "Hawthorne lost all power of belief in the other world, and with it all power of creation" (453). Three decades later, Jonathan Arac makes essentially the same point: "Faced with the 'conclusive action' of the Civil war," he writes, "Hawthorne could no longer effectively commit himself to this faith in romance as progress without agency, which had made possible the independent worlds of his literary narratives" (770). The wordings differ, but the underlying assumption is the same: for trilling and Arac alike, the notion of the last phase fulfills the ideological office of silencing an aspect of the discourse known as "Hawthorne" that does not fit the paradigm the critic would promote.
But Hawthorne's last phase was not always known as that record of a dying man's failing imagination we have become accustomed to accept. when una Hawthorne published Septimius Felton, or The Elixir of Life in 1872, the response was warm, even enthusiastic, if not lacking in critical voices. The British Quarterly Review, for instance, was unimpressed: "Septimius is a 'study' for brother artists, but hardly more." Harper's New Monthly Magazine concurred: "yet with all the genius which characterizes the book, it can hardly be popular [...] and we judge the book will achieve its reputation rather as a literary curiosity than as a popular romance." Appleton's Journal conceded that "there are occasionally exhibitions of power worthy of the author's best moments," but concluded that "the public demand the maturest expression of an author's genius; what is merely tentative may interest his friends, but detracts from the general appreciation and estimate of his power." most critical was the signature "e. S." in the Southern Magazine, who found the publication downright offensive:
We deeply regret that Septimius should have been printed. We have a reverence for Hawthorne's name and memory, as by far the most painstaking and successful of our artists--as a writer who had a faith in him which, in a prosaic age and a prosaic land, enabled him to become all artist. There are kindly critics who think that loyalty to Hawthorne's name and fame constrains them to regard this work an unfinished torso, and who speak stammeringly of the benefits of watching the artist in his workshop; but in our view it is simply the used-up clay which, tossed aside by him as worthless, has been raked up from the floor of the studio and crammed into the rag-picker's basket. (378)
The general critical estimate, however, was very different from this note of dismay. "For the most part it needs no revision, and the main effect could hardly be enhanced by completing some of the details" the New Englander insisted. The Boston Daily Evening Transcript was of the same opinion: "different as Mr. Hawthorne's finished work would have been, it could scarcely have been better worth reading than is his incomplete sketch." Edwyn Percy Whipple in the Boston Daily Globe was equally enthusiastic: "The power of genius displayed in the book is as good as that shown in Hawthorne's other romances. It is characterized by his usual simplicity, grace, precision and magical felicity of style, and by his usual certainty of insight." The anonymous reviewer in the Galaxy went even further, declaring Septimius Felton on many accounts "the most interesting of Hawthorne's romances [....] the story, incomplete and unsatisfactory as it is, surpasses in certain respects Hawthorne's other novels, and is only surpassed as a work of art by some of his shorter tales." although taking "some exception" to Hawthorne's "license of extravagance" in the romance, the London Times was equally impressed, comparing Septimius Felton to "his masterpiece, Transformation, or The Marble Faun," claiming that it "embodies the same richness of poetic fancy, and exhibits, notwithstanding its unfinished state, the same grace of poetic expression." It was expressly recommended, moreover, not only as a valuable addition to the canon of a great author, but as a good read: "unfinished, extravagant, and mournful as it is, it has a fascination about it that leads you on from scene to scene, dreading yet almost longing to be shocked or surprised again. you feel you are following the workings of, perhaps, the most original mind of his generation, refining with its innate poetry the strange births of a capricious and almost sinister fancy. reflection is piqued and excited throughout." Though hardly destined to rank among the author's more popular works, "it will be read for its poetry and fancy by many who care but little for fiction in general, and on those who really appreciate and admire it we can hardly doubt it will exercise a strong and growing fascination." Edith Simcox, under her pen name H. Lawrenny, was of a similar opinion in the Academy. "of all Hawthorne's works, Septimius has most in common with his greatest, Transformation" (404), she opined. "on the whole, in Septimius Hawthorne is sometimes at his best, and never betrays anything that can confidently be taken for a sign of failing powers [...]" (405).6 In a more schizophrenic mode, The Literary World's anonymous reviewer pronounced Septimius "a marvellous composition" (35), perhaps "the greatest, though the least attractive, of his works;" indeed, "we cannot but think that it will be regarded as his masterpiece." yet having said as much, the reviewer nevertheless claimed in conclusion that the story "does not deserve to rank with 'The Scarlet letter' or 'The house of the Seven Gables'," not because of any lack in artistic refinement, but because "it is not elevating" (36), that is, "it will help to perpetuate that false estimate of Hawthorne which credits him with the darkest misanthropy, and limits his successes to the most repulsive departments of morbid mental pathology" (35).
All in all, while a few voices objected to the publication of a romance that had not been properly authorized by its author, the great majority of reviewers found Septimius Felton of great merit, and many considered it one of Hawthorne's most interesting works. tellingly, when Leslie Stephen wrote an unsigned essay on "Nathaniel Hawthorne" in Cornhill Magazine in 1872, he included Septimius Felton in the discussion with no question as to its quality: it was simply one of Hawthorne's romances.
And such it remained in public consciousness for a good many years, owing much to its inclusion in the riverside edition, a complete edition of Hawthorne's works published in many forms by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. In 1896 one could purchase the immensely popular riverside edition in thirteen volumes, with notes by Mr. G. P. Lathrop, for $26, or the Popular edition in eight, and no notes, for $12.7 as Richard Brodhead reminds us, Ellen Ballou has shown that Houghton Mifflin in the early 1880's began targeting the American classics--Hawthorne among them--at every market level. The cheap paperback edition made Hawthorne a potentially popular author, a deluxe edition made him a collector's item, while the riverside edition proper was "a staple for the new middle-class home library of this time" (Brodhead 59). while the figures for Hawthorne's works are difficult to estimate, the riverside literature Series as such sold "in the hundreds of thousands in the 1880s, [and] was still moving a million copies a year in 1917" (Brodhead 60).
These sales figures, while impressive, do not in themselves constitute evidence that the writings of Hawthorne's last phase were once more widely read than today. No doubt the collected editions of a writer like Hawthorne were often on display in American homes to signify cultural awareness rather than to be read. "books," Charles Frances Richardson approvingly cited Henry Ward Beecher in The Choice of Books (1881), "are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house" (74). even so, in a society that knew neither television nor radio, books were naturally read to a much greater extent and by much wider segments than today. That the final stanza of Robert Lowell's 'Hawthorne' is made up of almost verbatim quotations from Septimius Felton is in itself a late reminder that this posthumous romance did find readers, as did, presumably, the other writings of the last phase as well. (8)
For the readership of the nineteenth-century, then, Hawthorne's canon was considerably larger than it is today. Nor were they under the impression, as currently seems to be the case at times, that Hawthorne enjoyed only a brief creative flourish, after which his creative powers withered. The commercial availability of Hawthorne's English and Italian Notebooks ("full of [the] experiences of one of the best of sight-seers," according to Richardson's 1878 Primer of American Literature), made evident that his sojourn in Europe was not so much a withdrawal from imaginative writing as a period of preparation for the mature work he delivered in The Marble Faun--"by some considered his best book," as Richardson notes. (9) And for Richardson's readers this was not the end: he conscientiously mentions "the fragments called The Ancestral Footstep, Doctor Grimshawe's Secret, Septimius Felton, and The Dolliver Romance,--all of which, in order, were studies for the same never-finished book," as well as Our Old Home (77).
And yet, when Edward Davidson first presented his view of the unfinished romances in Hawthorne's Last Phase (1949), indiscriminately lumping Septimius together with the other fragments as the wreckage of that phase, no one objected. How did this happen? Davidson, despite his essentially negative conception of the unfinished romances, probably did more than anyone else to bring them to light, and went on to the editorial board of the Centenary Edition, volumes 12 (The American Claimant Manuscripts) and 13 (The Elixir of Life Manuscripts). "The Unfinished Romances," his contribution to Hawthorne Centenary Essays (1964), effectively cemented his notion that they manifest "Hawthorne's artistic collapse" (163), although he has remarkably little to say of Septimius, "the fragments" of which, he claims, "reveal a distressing improvisation with almost palpably felt ideas" (158). Davidson's categorical statement, "When he [Hawthorne] finally put aside the large pile of manuscript later to be known as Septimius Felton, he had written many thousands of words and had accomplished nothing" (144), suggests that Davidson failed to differentiate properly the American Claimant materials (to which he notably devoted most of his work) from the much more nearly finished Septimius romance. Few critics of the last phase have been able to resist quoting from those notes of frustration that Hawthorne wrote to himself as he was working on the American Claimant, which Davidson was the first to unearth: "Oh, Heavens! I have not the least notion how to get on. I never was in such a sad predicament before" (CE 12: 286); etcetera, etcetera. More rarely is it mentioned that these complaints occur in "Etherege," the second of the three drafts on the American Claimant, and in "Etherege" only--there is nothing equivalent in either "Grimshawe" or the two "Septimius" manuscripts.
But it would be unfair to blame the neglect of Hawthorne's last phase on Davidson, if only because the disparagement of it was already in place long before he dramatized it by highlighting Hawthorne's own exasperated comments in "Etherege." Not only had popular opinion ever since Lathrop held that the three romances were really successive attempts to evolve a single romance, but the initial enthusiasm that greeted Septimius Felton from several quarters had long since given way to the view that it, like the other fragments, was interesting primarily as a reflection of the writer's mental state at the time.
What seems to have happened is something like this: while Septimius Felton was originally well received, critics as a rule were divided on the question as to how much the unfinished character of the story detracted from its literary value. Many decided that it did not detract much at all, but most of those who thought it did--and even some of those who thought it did not--found a compensatory value in the story by seeing it as a semi-biographical object. In the words of the Eclectic Magazine, "its very incompleteness, though it detracts much from its literary value, adds greatly to the reader's pleasure by bringing him very near to the author himself, and revealing the delicate processes of his singularly fine work." As Martin Kevorkian notes in his essay in this issue, Septimius from its very first publication was thus "introduced as a sort of biographical curiosity," a fate which the other unfinished romances would suffer to an even higher degree. Right from the outset, they were cast less as literary productions in their own right than as documents providing a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of the biographical author.
This suggests that Hawthorne's canonicity might indeed have been instrumental for Hawthorne's failure in his last phase, if in a very different way from that suggested by Brodhead. As Sara Crosby argues in the final essay of this issue, he had rather unwillingly become an Author, and as a result interest moved from text to person. That Hawthorne's ability to write became dysfunctional in consequence would seem to be disputed by Our Old Home's "singularly perfect and ripe" execution (James 144), by the wicked satire of "Chiefly about War-Matters," and by the ruinous splendor of Septimius; however, Hawthorne's canonization did have a marked impact on generations of readers' ability to read.
The evidence, as we have already suggested, is apparent already in the original reviews of the romance, and it is even more pronounced in the plethora of Introductions and Primers of American literature that followed. Higginson spoke approvingly of Septimius Felton as "fortunately unfinished" in his Short Studies of American Authors (1880), not the least because it is the only place where we see "his plastic imagination at work in shaping the romance" (7). Fred Lewis Pattee, in A History of American Literature (1896), likewise found that "although of a fragmentary nature," the volumes of the unfinished romances "are of untold value to the student of Hawthorne's life and philosophy. The fragments of romances produced in his last years, while full of melancholy evidence of failing powers, contain here and there some of his strongest work. In these fragments we find work in every stage of development. These and the note-books admit us into the romancer's literary workshop" (254-55). But as time wore on, literary interest in the unfinished romances gradually declined. In practice, Davidson's fundamentally negative evaluation of the unfinished romances is already in place in George Woodberry's Nathaniel Hawthorne (1902). While he too gives them the credit of being "interesting illustrations of the operation of his imagination, of his methods of thought, construction and elaboration, and in general of the manner in which a romance might grow under the hand" (287), there is no mistaking his predominantly negative view:
The imaginative work of these last years was considerable in bulk, but it was never brought to any perfection; and though it has been published, the entire mass of it is only a bundle of more or less rough or uncompleted sketches and studies. [....] The physical type which had served Hawthorne so well hitherto no longer responded to his art; neither the bloody footstep, nor the flower that grew upon the grave, which was after all only a fungus and not the real flower of life, had any story in them, either alone or together, and the figure of Sylph, who embodies allegorically this graveyard flower, has no power to win credence such as other, earlier, symbolic characters had won. (287-288) (10)
When Woodberry returned to Hawthorne in Hawthorne. How to Know Him (1918), Hawthorne's post-Marble Faun writings are not even mentioned. A little later still, Carl Van Doren dismisses the unfinished romances in The American Novel (1921), repeating the already well-established view that "Not only had the Civil War fatally interrupted his reflections but his imagination was dissolving, his vitality breaking up, along with the New England era of which he had been, among its romancers, the consummate flower" (81).
The importance of Henry James to this gradual but emphatic devaluation of the unfinished romances should not be ignored. When he published his study of Hawthorne in 1879, James was a promising novelist, but his authority was not yet so great that his book could escape being negatively compared to Lathrop's and criticized for, of all things, its style. (11) By the turn of the century James was recognized as one of the finest novelists America had produced to date, and a first rate literary critic to boot. His opinions, in short, gained in currency with every new publication, and critics who turned to his early assessment of Hawthorne for guidance could not help but be influenced by his critique of what he perceived as the overblown praise bestowed upon Septimius Felton by Hawthorne's son-in-law, George Lathrop, who, in his biography of Hawthorne (which had the advantage over James's of having free access to Hawthorne's personal letters), had ventured to compare it to Goethe's Faust and cited Thomas Wentworth Higginson calling it "one of the very greatest triumphs in all literature" (Lathrop, A Study 272-275), an evaluation James found particularly preposterous. James maintained in contrast that Septimius Felton was an "essentially crude piece of work," one for which he had "purposely reserved but a small space for [speaking of], for the part of discretion seems to be to pass it by lightly" (172).
In sum, for some time Septimius could be seen both as a literary work of value in itself and as biographical fetish in which the genius of Hawthorne, while perhaps not fulfilled, was nevertheless uniquely imprinted. But once critics came to embrace Henry James's categorical dismissal of the romance as an "essentially crude piece of work" in which the intentions of the writer were painfully unrealized, Septimius was relegated to a level of cult value. A little later still, the critical community had adopted not only James's evaluation of Hawthorne's writings, but likewise his more refined, or, shall we say, more ascetic, conception of literary pleasure, and the Author as an acceptable object of worship was in effect ruled out. For even while the New Critics, as inheritors of James's legacy, in practice retained the author as an unseen deity, they also insisted that he (for at this time it was still almost taken for granted that the Author was a "he") was approachable only through the medium of his works. In a peculiar shift of sentiment, it was no longer the public but the critics who demanded "the maturest expression of [the] author's genius," fearing perhaps that anything less might detract "from the general appreciation of his power."
But precisely because they were thus declared void of literary value, Septimius and the other unfinished stories could now be used as an index of the author's psychological state of mind towards the end of his life. (12) Freed from the obligation to make sense of the texts, critics found that Hawthorne's very inability to bring his stories to completion could serve as the pathetic finale to the story of his life.
The tendency is in full bloom already in Lloyd Morris's biography of 1928. Neglecting to refer to any of the posthumous publications by name, Morris dramatizes Hawthorne's return to America as "a disappointment" (338), and knows to tell us that "Writing had now become sheer torture; he realized that he had but little time to live; every dollar that his pen might earn would be useful to his family after his death. Relentlessly he drove his flagging energies in their service, but despite his efforts he made no satisfactory progress" (350). Herbert Gorman in similar fashion dismisses Septimius Felton, echoing James but with an added note of repulsion at the sad spectacle of the impotent writer: "There is nothing that can be said about this work for it is only representative of Hawthorne in so far as it indicates how far he had fallen from his former clarity" (161). For Edward Mather, too, the unfinished romances are evidence only of Hawthorne having lost "the intuitional selection of material, a great and rare gift but one essential to the creation of great works of fiction [...]. It had gone, gone forever. [....] Hawthorne the romancer was 'written out'" (332-33).13
Besides reading the unfinished romances primarily as an index of Hawthorne's psychic constitution, critics have further diminished their significance by pretending that there is no real connection between the imaginative writings and the essays of the last phase. Many critics agree that Hawthorne's writing in Our Old Home is as good or better than anything else he wrote; as Henry James conceded, "of all his productions it seems to be the best written" (144-5). Brodhead, for all his harsh words on Hawthorne's last phase, agrees that some of the "ruminative prose essays" he wrote in this period "deserve ranking with the best of his works" (69). But since Hawthorne's essay writing is seen not as an alternative or even complementary form of imaginative writing, but as its very opposite--as a form of writing Hawthorne undertook for the mere sake of money--no matter how perfect is its style, it can only further signify Hawthorne's imaginative impotence. We have every reason to question this discrediting of the essays. For while it may be true that Hawthorne had "once hoped," as he puts it in the opening page of Our Old Home, "that so slight a volume would not be all that I might write" (5:3), all the available evidence suggests that such a volume was precisely what he had in mind as he filled notebook after notebook with his impressions. Hawthorne suggested the possibility of publishing extracts from his English notebooks to William Ticknor as early as May 23, 1856, even if in characteristic fashion he withdrew the proposal in the very act of making it: "I keep a journal of all my travels and adventures, and I could easily make up a couple of nice volumes for you; but, unluckily, they would be much too good and true to bear publication. It would bring a terrible hornet's nest about my ears" (17: 493). Nevertheless, a year later, June 5, 1857, he again reminded Ticknor that "Everything that I see goes down into my Journal; and I have now hundreds of pages, which I would publish if the best of them were not too spicy" (18: 63). As Simpson aptly puts it in the historical introduction to Our Old Home: "We are not really asked to take the author's disclaimers very seriously: the possibility of eventual publication was more important to his thinking than were the dangers of publication" (5:xiii-xiv). In other words, Hawthorne's journal writing was always a form of literary writing.
That it could be a highly refined form of literary writing is borne out by the recent surge of interest in a piece like "Chiefly about War-Matters," the satirical performance of which is nothing short of Swiftian. We do well to remember, however, that "Chiefly about War-Matters" had not been reprinted when James wrote his biography, seventeen years after its original publication. It was eventually included in the Riverside Edition of Hawthorne's complete works, but Lathrop did his best to downplay its highly unpatriotic agenda, as have many subsequent critics, from the nineteenth century till today. (14) "Hawthorne's patriotism was genuine and deep-seated" (385), Frank Preston Stearns typically submits, going on to say that Hawthorne's controversial Atlantic essay was "patriotic enough," even while "his melancholy humor was prominent in it" (397). In any case, it had, Stearns explains, "only a temporary value" (398)--the title is never mentioned. Other critics are more conscientious in their remarks, but there can be little doubt of the general tendency of downplaying Hawthorne's partisan politics by way of reducing it to a symptom of the author's psychological stress at the time.
For "Chiefly about War-Matters" remained a potentially highly controversial text long after Hawthorne's death. A full 35 years after the war, Annie Fields, wife of Hawthorne's publisher, speaking of Hawthorne's description of Abraham Lincoln that her husband saw fit to censor, declares that:
the description to-day is still petty. When we consider what Abraham Lincoln was to this great people, we can only rejoice that Hawthorne was saved from writing himself down in that crucial epoch as one without sympathy for his country's helper. Hawthorne did not know himself at this time. (121)
Whatever else the comment tells us, it reminds us that the notion of Hawthorne's failure in the last phase is intimately connected to the unwonted memory of Hawthorne's perceived political failure in this period. Accepting the ideological common ground between The Scarlet Letter and its writer's staunch refusal to look upon the war as a necessary evil undertaken for the cause of a greater good, would make it very difficult to hail the former as a distinctly American master-piece, since the America we have come to know grew out of that war. Literary geniuses cannot be allowed to be traitors; they are of much too great symbolic value for that. But they are liable to be insane: witness Ezra Pound.
Hawthorne's politics of the last phase have called for similar defenses. They must be seen, Newton Arvin makes clear, as the product of a psychological breakdown: "we are told that, referring to the Southerners, he used to say, 'I hope that we shall give them a terrible thrashing, and then kick them out.' Manifestly, this is the vehemence, not of deep feeling, but of secret apathy" (271). For Arvin, the last four years of Hawthorne's life are "wretched years," forming an "almost unlightened gloom" (266), and the romances he worked upon suffered accordingly. Yet Arvin knows how to redeem them: "As works of art, the four fragments are all but utter failures; as biographical documents, they have no little interest" (282).
The essays in this issue all demonstrate the viability of relinquishing such a biographical framing of the writings of Hawthorne's last phase, and of looking to them, rather, as texts which just like other literary works, whether finished or unfinished, are capable of establishing a uniquely literary situation, provided that only the critic is willing to approach them as such. In common with other literary situations, those engendered by the texts here under discussion demand that we
... deal with historical themes in such a manner as to give us perspective upon our own involvement with those themes. They treat history as a continuum joining author, actor, and reader. Therefore, as they focus upon the quality of life as it exists at any given point on the continuum, they focus on the mutual involvement of the three parties in that continuum. (Pearce 348)
We borrow these words from a classic piece of Hawthorne criticism by Roy Harvey Pearce, because we think that they eloquently express the prerequisites for an historical understanding of literature. But whereas Pearce ascribed the critical agency to the story as such, and hence fell victim to the temptation to evaluate stories in accordance with how well he thought they performed the task of joining the three parties involved, we would stress that the story or text is but a part of the literary situation, the critical agency of which, while originating with the writer, always finally lies squarely with the reader. It is how we decide to approach a text that finally determines whether it will seem valuable or worthless; it is the critical strategies we employ that must be sufficiently complex and involved to strike up a rapport between the time of the author, the time of the story, and the time of ourselves.
As far as Hawthorne's last phase is concerned, the critical strategies necessary to the task have only recently begun to be formulated. The late Charles Swann deserves credit for being the first one to fully have acknowledged, and accounted for, the complexity of Hawthorne's unfinished romances, and though it seemed for a long time that critics were unwilling to follow his example, there are numerous signs that this unfortunate critical situation is about to change, the essays that follow being one among them. (15) These essays are not only significant engagements with Hawthorne but also a valuable intervention in what for several decades has been a critical impasse, one that has deprived Hawthorne's readers of some of his most provocative and challenging work.
James Hewitson discusses the impact that Hawthorne's "American Claimant" project had on his late political thought. Inspired by his experience with delusional American claimants to English estates, the project, Hewitson shows, was initially intended as a defense of the life that America afforded its citizens. In his comparison of the two nations, however, Hawthorne broadened the focus of the work to include competing political and economic tendencies existing within America. In its delineation of the aspects of American society that would lead individuals to disaffection and isolation, the "American Claimant" strongly anticipates the critique of the nation that emerges in his later essays, especially "Chiefly About War-Matters."
Antoine Traisnel's rereading of that provocative piece of war journalism effectively undercuts the notion that one could draw a sharp line between essay writing and imaginative writing in late Hawthorne. According to Traisnel, Hawthorne, in "Chiefly about War-Matters," sets out to describe a war fought in the name of people deprived of a voice. Setting up his text as a censorship hoax, Hawthorne draws a parallel between literary authorship and political sovereignty by blurring the line between fiction and history, in an attempt to negotiate the exigencies of the hour: How does one write history while history is unfolding? And how does one represent war when war has come to pervade every aspect of society?
The three concluding studies, all in different ways, suggest that, albeit belatedly, Septimius may perhaps be destined to "exercise a strong and growing fascination" after all. (16) Kevorkian proposes an Emersonian context for reading Septimius Felton as Hawthornean self-criticism. Though Hawthorne treats Septimius's quest for the elixir of life with some sympathy, Kevorkian suggests that the more considered opinions of the narrator reflect a distrust of the author's own flashes of Emersonian confidence--of the ambition Hawthorne and Emerson possessed to write what both authors termed "a new revelation." Through Septimius, he argues, Hawthorne portrays a program of strong appropriative reading that takes its cue from Emerson's "The American Scholar" (1837). The specific content of Septimius's curriculum in power, his reconstruction of the elixir of life manuscripts, reflects an imbalanced version of Emerson's Conduct of Life (1860), with a skewed emphasis on "Fate," at the expense of "Worship" from the same collection.
In a very different mode, Alexander Shakespeare casts a welcome light on Hawthorne's preoccupation with houses, both as brick-and-mortar structures and as haunted, even unheimliche spaces, in a Freudian sense. At an early stage of the writing process of Septimius, Hawthorne toyed with the idea of prefacing the story with a sketch that would emphasize its connection to the house in which it was written, the Wayside. Linking the drafts for such a preface to the homely conventions of "The Old Manse" and "The Custom-House," Shakespeare considers what Hawthorne's decision to write a romance that takes place in his own home, about a character with whom he explicitly idenitifies, may tell us about his attitude toward authorship and the act of fiction-writing itself. Examined in this light, the fragmented text of Septimius represents a peculiarly successful coda to Hawthorne's oeuvre, instead of merely Hawthorne's final "failure."
In conclusion, Sara Crosby reinserts Hawthorne's last phase into the sociopolitical milieu of the author's times. Challenging the model of Hawthorne as an apolitical literary genius achieving immortality by transcending the public, Crosby's essay instead views his literary project through the lens of Septimius, arguing that Hawthorne developed his authorship in conjunction with the partisan ideology and practices of the Democratic Party. This Jacksonian version of democracy derided canons and their transcendent literary geniuses as aristocratic and instead favored ephemeral writers who directly reflected the common people. Hawthorne negotiated between his democratic ethics and his aesthetic ambition, Crosby argues, by constructing himself as a third term: the ephemeral genius, who achieves literary greatness by mirroring the common man in his passing moment. His final romance, when viewed in its proper socio-historical context, can be seen as an attack on the shift in American print culture that had placed him at the center of a new strong canon as well as a defense of a Jacksonian version of American literature (and of Hawthorne).
The stories told about Hawthorne's last phase in this issue do not always agree with each other, but they correspond in their acute sense that this phase still has much to tell us, not only about the commingling of politics and art in the works of a prominent American writer, but also about the way that these issues continue to inform our practice as readers and writers even today. Hopefully, these stories mark only the beginning of a genuinely critical interest in the writings of Hawthorne's end.
Arac, Jonathan. "Narrative Forms." In The Cambridge History of American Literature. Volume 2, 1820-1865. Ed. Sacvan Bercovitch. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995. 605-777.
Arvin, Newton. Hawthorne. New York: Russell & Russell, 1961 .
Ballou, Ellen B. The Building Of The House: Houghton Mifflin's Formative Years. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1970.
Baym, Nina. The Shape of Hawthorne's Career. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1976.
Bell, Millicent (ed.). Hawthorne and the Real: Bicentennial Essays. Columbus, OH: Ohio State UP, 2005.
Brodhead, Richard. The School of Hawthorne. New York: Oxford UP, 1986.
Browne, Nina. A Bibliography of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1905.
Buono, Carmen Joseph Dello (ed.). Rare Early Essays on Nathaniel Hawthorne. Norwood: Norwood Editions, 1979.
Cohen, B. Bernard (ed.). The Recognition of Nathaniel Hawthorne: Selected Criticism since 1828. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969.
Crews, Frederick C. "Falling in Love at Cross-Purposes." In The Sins of the Fathers: Hawthorne's Psychological Themes. New York; Oxford UP, 1966. 240-57.
Crowley, J. Donald. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge, 1970.
Curtis, George Williams. "The Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne." North American Review 99 (1864). Cited after Buono. 31-63.
Davidson, Edward H. Hawthorne's Last Phase. New Haven: Yale UP, 1949.
--"The Unfinished Romances," Hawthorne Centenary Essays, ed. Roy Harvey Pearce. Ohio: Ohio State UP, 1964.141-163.
Davidson, Edward H., and Claude M. Simpson. "Historical Commentary." In The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Volume 13. The Elixir of Life Manuscripts. Septimius Felton. Septimius Norton. The Dolliver Romance, edited by and Edward H. Davidson, Claude M. Simpson, and L. Neal Smith. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1977. 557-590.
Dhaleine, Leon. N. Hawthorne: Sa Vie et son Oeuvre. Paris: Hachette, 1905.
Erlich, Gloria C. Family Themes and Hawthorne's Fiction: The Tenacious Web. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1984.
Fields, Annie. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Boston: Small, Maynard and Co, 1899.
Fields, James T. Hawthorne. Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1876.
Gollin, Rita. "Estranged Allegiances in Hawthorne's Unfinished Romances." In Bell, 159-180.
Gorman, Herbert. Hawthorne: A Study in Solitude. New York: Biblo, 1966 .
Hazeltine, Mayo Williamson. "Nathaniel Hawthorne." In Chats about Books (Poets and Novelists). New York: Scribner's, 1883. 260-71. Cited after Buono, 152-63.
--. Short Studies of American Authors. Boston: Lee and Shepard, 1880.
Idol, John L., and Buford Jones. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Contemporary Reviews. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994.
James, Henry. Hawthorne. New York: Harper, 1879.
Lamont, Dr. John H. "Hawthorne's Unfinished Works." Harvard Medical Alumni Bulletin 36 (1962): 13-20.
Lathrop, George Parsons. A Study of Hawthorne. Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1876.
--. "Biographical Sketch of Nathaniel Hawthorne." In The Riverside Edition of the Complete Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Volume 12. Tales, Sketches, and Other Papers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1899 . 441-569.
Leverenz, David. "Working Women and Creative Doubles: Getting to The Marble Faun." In Bell. 144-58.
Mather, Edward. Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Modest Man. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1940.
Matthews, Brander. An Introduction to American Literature. New York: American Book Company, 1896.
McCall, Dan "Robert Lowell's 'Hawthorne'." New England Quarterly 39:2 (1966): 237-39.
Miller, Edwin Haviland. Salem is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 1991.
Morris, Lloyd. The Rebellious Puritan: Portrait of Mr. Hawthorne. London: Constable, 1928.
Pancost, Henry S. An Introduction to American Literature. Second revised ed. New York: Henry Holt and Co, 1912 .
Pattee, Fred Lewis. A History of American Literature. Boston: Silver, Burdett and Company, 1896.
Pearce, Roy Harvey. "Hawthorne and the Sense of the Past, or, The Immortality of Major Molineux." ELH 21 (1954): 327-349.
Reynolds, Larry J. Devils and Rebels: The Making of Hawthorne's Damned Politics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2008.
Richardson, Charles F. A Primer of American Literature. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1884 .
--. The Choice of Books. New York: American Book Exchange, 1881.
--. American Literature. 1607-1885. Volume II. Poetry and Fiction. New York: Haskell House, 1970 [1886-8].
Simpson, Claude M. and Edward H. Davidson. "Historical Commentary." The Elixir of Life Manuscripts. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 1977. Vol. 13 of The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Ed. Edward H. Davidson, Claude M. Simpson, and L. Neal Smith. 557-90.
Stearns, Frank Preston. The Life and Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1906.
Stephen, Leslie. "Nathaniel Hawthorne." Cornhill Magazine 26 (1872): 717734.
Swann, Charles. Nathaniel Hawthorne: Tradition and Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991.
"The Marble Faun Completed." Knickerbocker Magazine 56 (July 1860), 6573. Partly rpt. in Crowley, 333-35.
Tolliver, Willie. Henry James as a Biographer: A Self among Others. New York: Garland, 2000.
Trent, William P. A History of American Literature. New York: D. Appleton, 1920 .
Trilling, Lionel. "Our Hawthorne." In Hawthorne Centenary Essays. Ed. Roy Harvey Pearce. Ohio: Ohio State UP, 1964. 429-58 and 480.
Van Doren, Carl. The American Novel. New York: Macmillan, 1940 .
Van Doren, Mark. Nathaniel Hawthorne. London: Methuen, 1948. Waggoner, Hyatt Howe. "The Late Romances." In Hawthorne: A Critical Study. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1955. 223-42.
Wallace, James D. "Immortality in Hawthorne's Septimius Felton." Studies in American Fiction 14:1 (1986): 19-33.
Winters, Yvor. Maule's Curse. Norfolk: New Directions, 1938.
Woodberry, George E. Nathaniel Hawthorne. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1902.
--Hawthorne. How to Know Him. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1918.
Original reviews of Septimius Felton, or the Elixir of Life, arranged alphabetically by publication (The following two lists of reviews rely in part upon the secondary reports to be found in Cohen, Davidson and Simpson, and Idol and Jones, which do not always provide author and title.)
H. Lawrenny [i.e. Edith Simcox], Academy 3 (November 1, 1872): 404-5.
"Literary Notes," Appleton's Journal 8 (August 17, 1872): 192.
"New Publications," Boston Daily Evening Transcript (July 27, 1872): 6. Cited after Idol and Jones, 369.
--[Edwin Percy Whipple], "New Publications," Boston Daily Globe (July 31, 1872): 1; cited after Idol and Jones 369-371.
"Contemporary Literature," British Quarterly Review 56 (October 1872): 540.
Eclectic Magazine 16 (October 1872): 505.
"Current Literature," Galaxy 14 (October 1872): 569-70.
"Editor's Literary Review," Harper's Monthly 45 (October 1872): 784.
"Literature of the Day," Lippincott's Magazine 10 (September 1872): 367.
" Septimius Felton," Literary World 3 (August 1,1872): 35-6. New Englander 31 (October 1872): 785-6.
Higginson, Thomas Wentworth. "Hawthorne's Last Bequest." Scribner's Monthly 5 (November, 1872): 100-105.
E[dward?] S[pencer?], Southern Magazine 9 (September 1872): 378-9.
"Hawthorne's Last Romance," [London] Times (October 11, 1872): 5.
Uncited original reviews, arranged alphabetically by publication.
"New Publications," Albion 50 (August 24, 1872): 537.
Henry Bright, "Literature," Athenaeum [England] 2330 (June 22, 1872): 775-6. Rpt. in Idol and Jones, 365-368.
George Parsons Lathrop, "History of Hawthorne's Last Romance," Atlantic Monthly 30 (October 1872): 452-60.
"Septimius Felton," Boston Transcript (July 17, 1872): 2.
Boston Daily Advertiser (July 18, 1872): 2.
"Contemporary Literature," British Quarterly Review 56 (October 1872): 540.
"Nathaniel Hawthorne's Last Romance," Examiner [England], (August 3, 1872): 770-1.
Independent 24 (August 8, 1872): 6.
"Literature of the Day," Lippincott's Magazine 10 (September 1872): 367.
"Literary Notices," London Quarterly Review 39 (October 1872): 261-2.
New York World (July 22, 1872): 3.
Overland Monthly 9 (December, 1872): 573-5.
"Book Notices," Portland Transcript (August 3, 1872): 138.
"Septimius," Saturday Review 34 (July 20, 1872): 89-90.
Spectator 2307 (September 14, 1872): 1179-80.
"Contemporary Literature," Westminster Review [England], n.s. 42 (October 1872): 544.
Magnus Ullen, Karlstad University, Sweden
and David Greven, Connecticut College
(1) This is Roy Harvey Pearce's famous argument, but it arguably underwrites all other accounts of the failure of Hawthorne's last phase.
(2) It bears remembering that Lathrop spelled out these causes already in 1883 in his "Biographical Sketch of Nathaniel Hawthorne" (545).
(3) Winters provides an even earlier (1938) move towards such an intratextual conception of Hawthorne's failure, in arguing that the failure is essentially of a technical nature. We have in the unfinished romances, Winters says, "all of the machinery and all of the mannerisms of the allegorist, but we cannot discover the substance of his communication, nor is he himself aware of it so far as we can judge. We have the symbolic footprint, the symbolic spider, the symbolic elixirs and poisons, but we have not that of which they are symbolic [...]. Yet we have not, on the other hand, anything approaching realistic fiction, for the events are improbable or even impossible, and the characters lack all reality. The technique neither of the novelist nor of the allegorist was available to Hawthorne when he approached the conditions of his own experience [...]" (19-20).
(4) Crews makes ample use of Lamont. The psychoanalytical approach has since been applied by Erlich.
(5) Brodhead's argument owes a lot to Nina Baym, who likewise holds that "Hawthorne's problems were with the romances and with the romances alone" (252). While in contrast to Brodhead, Baym allows that Septimius "promised to be the best thing of its kind that Hawthorne had done" (261), her final view is the familiar one: "In rewriting, [Hawthorne] seems to have become bogged down in rhetorical elaboration and found it increasingly difficult to keep the story moving." In short, "his alterations wrecked a promising romance" (258).
(6) That this praise came from Edith Simcox, trade union activist and early feminist, bears consideration in view of latter day readings of The Marble Faun as an attempt "to bring [his] representation of independent women toward patriarchal closure," rewarding only insofar it betrays "male instability and lack" (Leverenz 154). Apparently, independent women of the nineteenth century found something in Hawthorne to which some independent men of the twenty-first century have become blind.
For another account of the novel's critical reception--one that we have gratefully drawn upon--see Simpson and Davidson, especially 585-588. The editors claim "it was cordially received" (13: 585). We are indebted also to the important archival work of Idol and Jones.
(7) Matthews, 123. The Riverside Edition was not the only collection of Hawthorne's works on the market. Between 1871 and 1904, Nina Browne lists twenty different collections, eleven brought out under the Houghton Mifflin imprint (and three under the Osgood one that Houghton Mifflin bought). Septimius is included in sixteen of these; Grimshawe, which was not published until 1889, in nine, as far as we have been able to ascertain. By 1902 it would seem that the works of the last phase have fallen out of favor, for in that year the fourteen volume Lenox Edition published by T.Y Crowell & Co., New York, with Introductions by Katharine Lee Bates, as well as the seven volume Romances published by the same firm, pass over all Hawthorne's post-Marble Faun writings.
(8) For Lowell's borrowings from Septimius Felton, see McCall.
(9) While it may well be the case that the commercial appeal of The Marble Faun was due primarily to it almost instantaneously (witness the spoof in Knickerbocker Magazine, 1860) being adopted as a kind of literary Baedecker to Rome, this does not explain its not inconsiderable critical status during the nineteenth century. If its original reviews were not unanimously overwhelming, critical consensus soon placed it "as second only to the 'Scarlet Letter'" (Matthews 120; see also Pancost 197-8). Richardson in American Literature (1886-88) agrees with this opinion, but he evidently finds The Marble Faun the most interesting of Hawthorne's romances, devoting six pages to his discussion of it, three times as much as he spends on the other romances together. George Williams Curtis in 1864 called it "one of the most perfect works of art in literature," and praised it for the way the story journeys through "delicate, rosy lights of love, and soft, shimmering humor, and hopes and doubts and vanishing delights [.] on and on into utter gloom" (49).
(10) Trent's A History of American Literature, published but a year later, takes a strikingly similar view: "He made several attempts at fiction, but without success. His mind was unsettled, his health was breaking down, and it was afterwards plain from Septimius Felton, Dr. Grimshawe's Secret, and the fragmentary Dolliver Romance that his artistic power had ebbed out with his physical strength. They could not well be devoid of his mysterious charm, but might well have remained in manuscript without serious loss to the world" (358). It may be of interest to observe that in France, interest in Hawthorne's late writings continued unabated in this period. In Leon Dhaleine's 459 page study (509 including appendices), N. Hawthorne: Sa Vie et son Oeuvre (1905), the writings of the last phase are dealt with in three consecutive chapters, spanning almost fifty pages. (For comparison, Dhaleine's treatment of the other romances and the Wonder-Book amount to just over two hundred pages.) More important than this quantitative observation, Septimius Felton is characterized as "a work of great value. The main features of Septimius and Sibyl are well conceived, finely studied, and drawn in sufficient detail. Nowhere else has Hawthorne surpassed the stylistic precision and the accuracy rendered in Septimius Felton [...]. No one, then, [...] can say this work is of any less importance than Hawthorne's best works" (316) ["un ouvrage de haute valeur. Les caracteres principaux de Septimius et de Sibyl sont bien concus, finement etudies, les details en sont suffisamment fouilles. Le style est dune nettete, d'une fermete qu'il n'a nulle part depassees [.]. Rien donc [.] ne permet de [.] classer [l'aeuvre] a un rang inferieur a celui des meilleurs ouvrages de Hawthorne [...]."] Our thanks to Antoine Traisnel for assisting us with the translation.
(11) "Neither as a biography nor as a critical estimate is this book satisfactory" (152), Hazeltine says of James's critical study of Hawthorne, and goes on to complain about James's excessive use of the word "dusky," which "he goes on fingering and mouthing [.] till it becomes the stalest and emptiest adjective in his vocabulary" (163). Tolliver confirms that James's study, while warmly received in England, was savaged by "both the New York and the Boston critics" (52).
(12) We hasten to add that the disparagement of the works of the last phase is at no point absolute. Mark Van Doren's 1948 assessment of Septimius is, for instance, relatively positive: "There is a freshness in this fragment," Van Doren opines, (only three sentences after having written that "it is misleading to say fragment, for the work is copious, and Hawthorne wrote it twice"), "a pleasure in its own rapid movement, such as Middleton and Redclyffe--those hesitant seekers, those meditative claimants--had been unable to inspire." The work is a "relative success" (247), the theme of the elixir of life wrought out "with astonishing vigor, and with a certain bright beauty in the result" (248). But this acclaim comes only after Van Doren has repeated Davidson's censure of "Grimshawe."
(13) As recently as 1991, the perceived failure of Hawthorne's unfinished romances gave Edwin Haviland Miller an excuse for painting a gruesome picture of Hawthorne's emotional and intellectual "crack-up:" "Day after day Hawthorne, his eyes reflecting his body's weariness, trudged up the stairs to his study with so little enthusiasm and after such procrastination that even Sophia sometimes became impatient" (490-91).
(14) See, for instance, Gollin.
(15) Swann, be it noted, maintains that "The Elixir of Life Manuscripts, far from being peripheral texts for an understanding of Hawthorne, should be read as attempts at a summation of life's work, a direct confrontation with issues that Hawthorne had repeatedly, if often obliquely, approached" (228). Wallace's study is likewise of great interest, even if it deals only with the "Septimius Felton" draft. For more recent studies that demonstrate the richness of the unfinished romances, see Reynolds, Ullen, and David Greven's current book project on Freud, Hawthorne, and male narcissism.
(16) While "The Ancestral Footstep," "Etherege," and "Grimshawe" are all obviously variations on the single subject of an American claimant, and hence can be quite adequately grouped together under the common rubric of The American Claimant Manuscripts, Septimius and Dolliver, in contrast, share only the motif of the elixir of life. The treatment of this motif is so dissimilar from the one story to the other that they can hardly be said to share the same theme, not to mention their totally different plots, characters, and settings. For this reason, we have adopted the praxis--and would recommend that people follow us in this--of speaking about Septimius and The Dolliver Romance, rather than The Elixir of Life Manuscripts, reserving the latter term for references to the actual volume of Centenary Edition 13.
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|Author:||Ullen, Magnus; Greven, David|
|Publication:||Nathaniel Hawthorne Review|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2009|
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