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Excerpt from Melville's review of Hawthorne's Mosses from an Old Manse, "Hawthorne and His Mosses," first published in The Literary World, vol. 17, 24 August, 1850 and reprinted in Moby-Dick by Herman Melville published by W.W. Norton & Company in New York in 1967, pp. 535-551.

In this excerpt from Melville's "Hawthorne and His Mosses" Hawthorne's perspective is linked to influence by the Calvinistic Doctrine of Original Sin. Melville finds this element in Hawthorne to be a source of both strength and mystery.

. . . Certain it is, however, that this great power of blackness in him derives its force from its appeals to that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is always and wholly free. For, in certain moods, no man can weigh this world, without throwing in something, somehow like Original Sin, to strike the even balance. At all events, perhaps no writer has ever wielded this terrific thought with greater terror than this same harmless Hawthorne. Still more: this black conceit pervades him, through and through (540-541).

Full text of Hawthorne and His Mosses




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