This title offers in-depth critical discussions of his life and works. To this day Nathaniel Hawthorne remains one of the most studied authors in the English language. His literary output included tales, novels, and essays, and his influence was felt by writers the world over. As stated in Jack Lynch's introduction to this volume, Hawthorne's works 'can be found in virtually every library in the English-speaking world. No responsible survey course on American literature is complete without "The Scarlet Letter"; no reputable collection of American short stories can omit "The Birth-mark" or "Rappaccini's Daughter". He stands at the center of nineteenth-century American literature.' Indeed Hawthorne is considered to be among the forefathers of American literature. Edited by literary scholar Jack Lynch of Rutgers University, Newark, this volume in the "Critical Insights" series brings together some of the high points of the last half-decade of Hawthorne criticism. The essays contained within present a variety of critical viewpoints and an array of critical approaches.
Some consider the cultural and historical contexts of Hawthorne's works, while others examine the state of Hawthorne studies through changing critical fashions. Some of the essays look to biographical speculation, some consider Hawthorne's psychology, and yet others look closely to those issues that concerned Hawthorne most. Hawthorne's major work, "The Scarlet Letter" receives critical attention with essays by Hugo McPherson, John G. Bayer, and Evans Lansing Smith, while some of Hawthorne's stories are examined in essays by Kathryn B. McKee and Bill Christophersen. His essays receive careful consideration by Thomas R. Moore, while well-known scholars such as Leo B. Levy, Nina Baym, Claudia D. Johnson, and Melvin W. Askew probe broad subjects such as 19th century perfectionism, the fall of man, and notions of the sublime. While necessarily a sampling of the critical approaches to Hawthorne's work, the 18 essays contained in this volume provide an excellent starting point for those readers interested in studying this 19th century American literary master. Each essay is 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes.show more