By Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom
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Extra resources for Nathaniel Hawthorne (Bloom's Classic Critical Views)
Another way in which he effected telling labor was to conserve his force in the matter of wrangling. He kept his temper. He had a temper, of course. He was not without the fires of life, but he banked them. He did not permit disgust at others for the adverse destiny of the moment to absorb his vitality by throwing it off in long harangues of rage, long seasons of the sulks. There are no such good calculators as men of consummate genius. They dread the squandering of energy of an Edgar Allan Poe or of a boiling Walter Savage Landor.
Yet as much as certain critics extolled independence from the motherland and its canon, many others remained spellbound to those traditions and found deviation from “the norm” suspect. Of interest to students examining Hawthorne’s independence from a tradition—and his anticipation of modernism—is the repeated charge of formlessness in Hawthorne’s stories, how they do not rely closely on plots, do not require detail or even characterization. Hawthorne’s work, it is alleged, is more fragmentary and idea driven.
Conway addresses Hawthorne’s attitude to politics, specifically his unswerving loyalty to Franklin Pierce and his views on the Civil War. Students writing on Hawthorne’s political commitment and his position regarding slavery (and thus, race) should read Conway’s forthright account. Hawthorne’s devotion to Pierce alienated him from his literary brethren, Conway says; his intense discomfort about the Civil War killed him. QQQ Hawthorne was among those who went out the first summer, a very graphic account of which introduces his Blithedale Romance.