Professor Monika Elbert’s new volume provides a comprehensive overview of Nathaniel Hawthorne and demonstrates why he continues to be a critically significant figure in American literature. The first section focuses on Hawthorne’s interest in and knowledge of past (Puritan and colonial) and contemporary nineteenth-century history (women’s, African American, Native American) as the inspiration for his writings and the source of his literary success.
The second section explores his fascination with social history and popular culture by examining topics as mesmerism, utopian life styles, theatrical performances, and artistic innovations. The third section looks at how Hawthorne succeeded and excelled in the literary marketplace, as an author of children’s literature, literary sketches, and historical romances. In the fourth section, Hawthorne’s literary precursors, peers, colleagues, and successors are analyzed. In the final section, Hawthorne’s attachment to family, nature, and home is examined as the source of creative inspiration and philosophical questing.