Initially, of course, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s literary works went unranked among those of other American and British writers. But his reputation grew gradually even among contemporary critics, until he was recognized as a “man of genius.”
Edgar Allen Poe, in a review of Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” which had been written 12 years prior, said in Godey's Lady's Book, November, 1847, no. 35, pp. 252-6:
It was never the fashion (until lately) to speak of him in any summary of our best authors. . . . The "peculiarity" or sameness, or monotone of Hawthorne, would, in its mere character of "peculiarity," and without reference to what is the peculiarity, suffice to deprive him of all chance of popular appreciation. But at his failure to be appreciated, we can, of course, no longer wonder, when we find him monotonous at decidedly the worst of all possible points--at that point which, having the least concern with Nature, is the farthest removed from the popular intellect, from the popular sentiment and from the popular taste. I allude to the strain of allegory which completely overwhelms the greater number of his subjects.
So literary critic Edgar Allan Poe thinks that Hawthorne’s heavy reliance on allegory is the cause of his lack of popularity during the 1830’s and 40’s. In 1848 James Russell Lowell wrote a piece of poetry entitled “Hawthorne” for the periodical A Fable for Critics:
"There is Hawthorne, with genius so shrinking and rare
That you hardly at first see the strength that is there;
A frame so robust, with a nature so sweeet,
So earnest, so graceful, so lithe and so fleet,
Is worth a descent from Olympus to meet;
'Tis as if a rough oak that for ages ha...
... middle of paper ...
..... Yesterdays With Authors. 1871.
“Hawthorne and His Mosses.” The Norton Anthology: American Literature, edited by Baym et al. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1995.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Complete Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc.,1959.
James, Henry. Hawthorne. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997.
James, Henry. “Nathaniel Hawthorne,” Nation, March 14, 1872. http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/hjnat.html
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. “Hawthorne- 1804-1864.” 1864. http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/nhlong.html
Lowell, James Russell. “Hawthorne.” In A Fable For Critics. 1848. http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/fable.html
Melville, Herman. “Hawthorne and His Mosses,” The Literary World August 17, 24, 1850.
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