Widely condemned even in his own time, Nathaniel Hawthorne's views
on abolitionism and slavery are today frequently characterized by
scholars as morally reprehensible. Devils and Rebels explores the
historical and biographical record to reveal striking evidence of
the author's true political values---values grounded in pacifism
and resistant to the kind of binary thinking that could lead to
violence and war.
The book offers fresh readings of not only Hawthorne's four
major romances but also some of his less familiar works like
"Legends of the Province House," "The Whole History of
Grandfather's Chair, Journal of an African Cruiser, The Life of
Franklin Pierce," and "Septimius Felton." Reynolds argues that
Hawthorne---whether in his politics or his art---drew upon
racialized imagery from America's past revolution and war on
witchcraft to create a politics of quiet imagination, alert to the
ways in which New England righteousness could become totalitarian
by imposing its narrow view of the world on others.
Meticulously researched and cogently argued, this groundbreaking
work demonstrates the need to examine perspectives and values from
beyond the New England region when studying the literary history of
the American Renaissance and illuminates the difficulties faced by
public intellectuals during times of political strife---an issue as
relevant today as it was some one hundred and fifty years ago.
Larry J. Reynolds is Thomas Franklin Mayo Professor of Liberal
Arts and Professor of English at Texas A&M University. His
previous books include "A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne,
National Imaginaries, American Identities: The Cultural Work of
American Iconography," and"European Revolutions and the American
Literary Renaissance" as well as an edition of the European
writings of Margaret Fuller.
"An outstanding combination of literary interpretation and
cultural and historical context that will be an important addition
to the critical literature on Hawthorne."
---Nina Baym, University of Illinois
"It is difficult to imagine a more timely book than "Devils and
Rebels," Examining the role of the public intellectual and writer
during a time of political conflict and war, Reynolds takes up his
charges with great precision and historical finesse. What
particularly distinguishes this book is its attention to the ways
in which one of this country's most important authors struggled to
resist the waves of political extremism and patriotic hysteria that
swept around him."
---Jeffrey Steele, University of Wisconsin--Madison
Illustration: "Black John Chastising the Witches" (detail) by
George Cruikshank, from "Twelve Sketches Illustrative of Sir Walter
Scott's "Demonology and Witchcraft."" London: Robins and Co., 1830.
Visit the author's website at: http:
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