Hawthorne and the Historical Romance Chapter uri icon


  • In a ournal entry of 1844, Nathaniel Hawthorne lamented, "Dead Men's opinions in all things control the living truth; we believe in Dead Men's religion; we laugh at Dead Men's jokes; we cry at Dead Men's pathos; everywhere and in all matters, Dead Men tyrannize inexorably over us" (1972, 252). He would develop this idea in The House of the Seven gables: A Romance (1851), giving his character Holgrave similar sentiments to express, but the idea was planted like an oak in Hawthorne's own mind. Although The Scarlet Letter: A Romance (1850) is the only one of Hawthorne's novels set in the historical past, all of them reveal his acute sense of hte baneful influence of the past on the present. He lived in hopeful times, but a spirit of pessimism, or the "great power of blackness" as Herman Melville called it (1987, 243), infused all four of Hawthorne's major novels, The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance (1852), and The Marble Faun: or, The Romance of Monte Beni (1860).

author list (cited authors)

  • Reynolds, L. J

complete list of authors

  • Reynolds, LJ

editor list (cited editors)

  • Kennedy, J. G., & Person, L. S.

Book Title

  • The American Novel to 1870

publication date

  • January 1, 2014 11:11 AM