Hawthorne and Women: Engendering and Expanding the Hawthorne Tradition

Hawthorne and Women: Engendering and Expanding the Hawthorne Tradition

Hawthorne and Women: Engendering and Expanding the Hawthorne Tradition

Hawthorne and Women: Engendering and Expanding the Hawthorne Tradition

Synopsis

A collection of essays offering a complex yet positive view of Hawthorne's attitudes toward women, this text examines the influence exerted by the women in Hawthorne's immediate family, and explores his links to a range of women writers.

Excerpt

Melinda M. Ponder and John L. Idol Jr.

Nathaniel Hawthorne's chagrin that women authors were besting him and his male contemporaries in the marketplace prompted him to call these creators of popular fiction "scribbling women," a demeaning label that he might not have tried to pin on all women writers. In more judicious moments, he realized how important women writers were in building the kind of national readership that would help him sustain his writing career. Although he knew that women critics such as Margaret Fuller and his sister-in-law Elizabeth Palmer Peabody boosted his work in important literary reviews, he lived too short a life to have more than just an inkling of how revered he would become among women writers as they sought to establish their careers. How women as readers, critics, and writers responded to him led us to propose a session on Hawthorne and women at a meeting of the Philological Association of the Carolinas.

When we asked Rita Gollin and David Kesterson to join us for a panel at a gathering of that group at Clemson University, a collection of essays on the topic had not entered our minds. But gatherings of scholars at conferences often stir interest and generate ideas for further study. Such was the case when we began discussing the role of women in launching, supporting, and sustaining Hawthorne's literary reputation. That exchange of ideas led us to identify one group of women whose primary goal was to empower Hawthorne. But what of those women who turned to Hawthorne as a mentor when they studied and practiced the craft of writing? Here was . . .

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