|About the Book|
In what he [Henry James] says of the qualities of Hawthornes prose he is simply the authority, no one has improved upon him. --From the Introduction by Quentin AndersonHawthorne by Henry James is a study of Nathaniel Hawthorne as both a novelistMoreIn what he [Henry James] says of the qualities of Hawthornes prose he is simply the authority, no one has improved upon him. --From the Introduction by Quentin AndersonHawthorne by Henry James is a study of Nathaniel Hawthorne as both a novelist and a man of his time. A unique portrait of the American artist in the mid-nineteenth century, it is also a small-scale critique of American life, society, and manners, for James uses his celebrated subject as a vantage point from which to present his own views on American culture. And because it is written by Henry James, it offers an implicit comparison of the American with the European man of letters and a study of the antithetical values of the Old World and the New by a man whose loyalties were divided between the two.Throughout the essay, Henry James shows a tender, albeit critical, regard for the author of The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Blithedale Romance, again and again expressing admiration for Hawthornes formidable creative powers--the splendid and spontaneous imagination, the preoccupation with otherworldliness, and, above all, the haunting care for moral problems. Of the opinion that Hawthorne was very much a product of his New England world, he finds his novels redolent of the social system in which he had his being. In glimpses of life in Salem, Boston, and Concord, of Brook Farm, and of Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Franklin Pierce, and others, James re-creates the cultural and historical milieu in which Hawthorne wrote, introducing subtle touches of background that succeed in placing Hawthorne and his work firmly within the context of his American generation.