Academic journal article Nathaniel Hawthorne Review

From the Editor's Gable

Academic journal article Nathaniel Hawthorne Review

From the Editor's Gable

Article excerpt

Though this is not meant to be a special issue, one might consider it a mini-special issue on Hawthorne's short stories, for that common thread emerges. Focusing on Hawthorne's short fiction, the essays printed here provide interesting new approaches to "Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe," "Young Goodman Brown," "Rappaccini's Daughter," and "The Birth-mark."

Leland S. Person, in the lead essay, discusses contemporary issues regarding slavery and immigration, in relationship to the power dynamics of labor practices that weighed upon Hawthorne's mind as he wrote "Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe." Moving from the influence of history to various cross-influences between Hawthorne and other writers, the next three essays form a cluster of their own. Hubert Zapf discusses Goethe's impact upon Hawthorne's writing, most notably the Faust masterpiece on Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown": whereas Goethe had reclaimed the more joyful version of the medieval Faust legend, Hawthorne's Puritan recreation of the Faust myth co-opted the more dour aspects of the tale. Robyn Schiffman proposes another possible German source, as she suggests a Novalis-Hawthorne connection, or perhaps, in the context of the garden motif story, cross-pollination of Romantic tropes. Both Zapf and Schiffman point to German influences that informed much of the writing and thinking of nineteenth-century American Romantics, who were deeply entrenched in the Romanticism of German writers. Nassim W. Balestrini, in the final essay, discusses Hawthorne's influence on a recent American writer, Miranda July, in the context of the dangers of modern cosmetic surgery, as revealed in July's own story, "Birthmark," an obvious tribute to Hawthorne's "The Birth-mark. …

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