The Scarlet Letter and Other Writings: Authoritative Texts, Contexts, Criticism

Front Cover
W.W. Norton, 2017 - Literary Criticism - 738 pages
- Revised and expanded explanatory footnotes, a new preface, and a note on the text by Leland S. Person.
- Key passages from Hawthorne's notebooks and letters that suggest the close relationship between his private and public writings
- Seven new critical essays by Brook Thomas, Michael Ryan, Thomas R. Mitchell, Jay Grossman, Jamie Barlowe, John Ronan, and John F. Birk.
- A Chronology and revised and expanded Selected Bibliography.

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About the author (2017)

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. When he was four years old, his father died. Years later, with financial help from his maternal relatives who recognized his literary talent, Hawthorne was able to enroll in Bowdoin College. Among his classmates were the important literary and political figures Horatio Bridge, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Franklin Pierce. These friends supplied Hawthorne with employment during the early years after graduation while Hawthorne was still establishing himself as a legitimate author. Hawthorne's first novel, Fanshawe, which he self-published in 1828, wasn't quite the success that he had hoped it would be. Not willing to give up, he began writing stories for Twice-Told Tales. These stories established Hawthorne as a leading writer. In 1842, Hawthorne moved to Concord, Massachusetts, where he wrote a number of tales, including "Rappaccini's Daughter" and "Young Goodman Brown," that were later published as Mosses from an Old Manse. The overall theme of Hawthorne's novels was a deep concern with ethical problems of sin, punishment, and atonement. No one novel demonstrated that more vividly than The Scarlet Letter. This tale about the adulterous Puritan Hester Prynne is regarded as Hawthorne's best work and is a classic of American literature. Other famous novels written by Hawthorne include The House of Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance. In 1852, Hawthorne wrote a campaign biography of his college friend Franklin Pierce. After Pierce was elected as President of the United States, he rewarded Hawthorne with the Consulship at Liverpool, England. Hawthorne died in his sleep on May 19, 1864, while on a trip with Franklin Pierce.

Leland S. Person is Professor and Head of the English Department at the University of Cincinnati. He previously taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and Indiana University, Fort Wayne. His is the author of Henry James and the Suspense of Masculinity, Aesthetic Headaches: Women and Masculine Poetics in Poe, Melville, and Hawthorn, and many articles on nineteenth-century American writers, especially Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, Henry James, and James Fenimore Cooper. He recently coedited (with Robert K. Martin) a collection of essays, Roman Holidays: American Writers and Artists in Nineteenth-Century Italy.

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