Academic journal article Nathaniel Hawthorne Review

From the Editor's Gable

Academic journal article Nathaniel Hawthorne Review

From the Editor's Gable

Article excerpt

As deeply anchored in the nineteenth-century American experience and in a precise historical moment as either of his previous two novels, Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance (1852), born of the author's participation in the famous U.S. Utopian scheme, Brook Farm, simultaneously and self-consciously works against that anchor from its opening sentences, reaching back in time and across continents, oceans, and nations to place itself within not just a transnational or trans-oceanic but a global context. Indeed, within the brief three pages of its opening chapter, "Old Moodie," the reader is introduced to a narrator, Miles Coverdale, who is named for the historical author of the first English Bible (1535); Zenobia, the novel's tragic heroine, who recalls a Queen of Palmyra (present-day Syria) in the third century; and a mysterious figure named the Veiled Lady, who addresses contemporary infatuations with the pseudo-science of mesmerism, the brain-child of eighteenth and nineteenth-century Viennese doctor, Franz Mesmer. The dense and extensive tissue of referrents and allusions that Hawthorne spins is only partly explained by the fact that the novel's narrator is himself a writer who is more than fond of showcasing arcane knowledge; it also speaks to and evinces Hawthorne's deep historicity, his sense of his own connectedness with other times, other "epochs," as he might have said, and other places. …

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