This book explores the deeply emotional yet enigmatic relationship between two nineteenth-century American writers, showing how Margaret Fuller's radical ideas about women's rights, equality of the sexes, and the nature of marriage influenced Nathaniel Hawthorne's writing.
Drawing on recently published letters and journals, Thomas R. Mitchell describes how Julian Hawthorne's misrepresentation of his father's relationship with Fuller destroyed her literary reputation, promoted Hawthorne as a defender of conservative values, and continues to obscure the depth of Hawthorne's personal and intellectual involvement with her. Mitchell concludes that far from being repulsed by Fuller and her assertiveness--as many scholars have claimed--Hawthorne experienced with her perhaps the most intimate relationship that he ever had with a woman, his wife alone excepted.
Blending biography, cultural history, and literary and psychological analysis, Hawthorne's Fuller Mystery raises provocative questions about the origins and intent of Hawthorne's greatest works and offers compelling new readings of "Rapaccini's Daughter," The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun.
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Thomas R. Mitchell is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of English at Texas A&M International University.From Kirkus Reviews:
A well-researched, persuasive reexamination of the paradoxical relations between two classic American authors. When Margaret Fuller died in 1850, she was regarded as one of the most important writers and activists of the timea leading figure in Emerson's Transcendentalist circle and the highest embodiment of the ``New Woman'' who entered the public arena to debate social and political issues. Yet in 1884, Nathaniel Hawthorne's son, Julian, published a biography of his famous father that would destroy Fuller's literary reputation until the 1960s. The popular book contained a short passage from Hawthorne's journal in which he jeered at her Italian husband, who drowned with her and their baby in a shipwreck off the coast of Fire Island, and concluded that Fuller's intellectual brilliance was a fraud, a thin covering for her true ``defective and evil nature'' (i.e., her alleged lustfulness). Julian used the virulent passage to present his father as an ideal middle-class husband who was an enemy of Fuller and her feminist ilk. Though the sons glowing portrayal of Hawthorne has long since come undone, his version of Hawthorne's hostility to Fuller held sway for remarkably long. In this well-argued and engaging book, however, Mitchell (Laredo Community Coll.) draws on extensive citations from both writers' journals and letters, while also offering a close analysis of Hawthorne's texts, to show that the truth of Fullers character was not as reported. Fuller and Hawthorne in fact enjoyed an intense, possibly intimate friendship for five years before she left Boston for New York (and later Italy). Both fascinated and repelled by Fuller's brilliance and charisma, which he found seductive as well as threatening, Hawthorne was inspired by his passionate attempts to understand her, says Mitchell, to create many of his greatest female characters (e.g., Hester Pryne). In an impressive achievement, Mitchell captures the fiery temperament of each while also untangling their complicated friendship and its literary import. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description University of Massachusetts Press, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Hardcover and dust jacket. Fine binding and cover. Clean, unmarked pages. Ships daily. Bookseller Inventory # 1701130038
Book Description University of Massachusetts Press, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1558491708
Book Description Univ of Massachusetts Pr, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX1558491708
Book Description University of Massachusetts Pr, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111558491708
Book Description University of Massachusetts Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 1558491708 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.1586870