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Fiction Related to Hawthorne and Melville Literary Links

Fiction Related to Hawthorne and Melville Literary Links

Photograph of Herman Melville, 1861
Photograph of Herman Melville, 1861 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 
  • Excerpts from Melville's Moby-Dick, first the dedication of the novel to Hawthorne, then a passage from the seventieth chapter "The Sphynx" in which Captain Ahab's soliloquy-like address to a whale's head exhibits language clues that permit a second interpretation of the passage as further tribute to Hawthorne. The term "mosses" alludes to Melville's review "Hawthorne and His Mosses" for Hawthorne's collection of stories Mosses from an Old Manse; the Shakespearean form of soliloquy echoes Melville's connection of Hawthorne and Shakespeare in that review; the references to "The Sphynx" and "the secret thing that is in thee" parallel Melville's repeated observations of Hawthorne's possessing a "secret," the knowledge of which would shed light upon his works; and the words of praise "venerable", "mighty", and "deepest" in this context suggest that Moby Dick's author intended his masterpiece as an offerering to his beloved Hawthorne more than is generally recognized:

  • Excerpt from Hawthorne's "The Old Manse" in Mosses from an Old Manse in which the term "mosses" is clarified in reference to the qualities of the mosses on the walls of the house, the significance of the term lying not only in its use in the title of the collection of short stories but also Melville's use of it in his review of that work and elsewhere.

  • In the following excerpts from Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance, the Hawthorne-like character, poet and narrator Miles Coverdale, and the Melville-like character, passionate monomaniac Hollingsworth suggest Melville's influence on the novel. The first person narrator, a young man who joins a major enterprise with mostly adventure-seeking motives, certainly calls to mind narrator Ishmael in Melville's Moby-Dick. The dark and brawny Hollingsworth, bearing a physical resemblance to Melville, cares for Coverdale and seeks his partnership, moreover, in an intensity that seems to parallel Melville's evident affection for and desire for intimacy with Hawthorne. The sharp, mysterious break in the relationships between the two authors and the fictional pair constitute yet another likeness.
  • Excerpts from A Tanglewood Tale by Juliane Glantz and Stephen Glantz copyright 2001 (courtesy of Juliane and Stephen Glantz)

    The play dramatizes the developing friendship of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville during the 1850-1851 period when both authors resided in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. In spite of their strong attraction to each other, they become estranged by fundamental differences. Puritan-in-spite-of himself, Hawthorne is pressed too far when worldly former whaler Melville becomes explicit about shipboard liaisons with fellow sailors. Though the play suggests Hawthorne is curious about same sex relations, the reserved New Englander flees Melville and the Berkshires rather than pursue the subject.

  • Excerpt from The Scarlet Letter Chapter 14 and Excerpts from Chapters 11 and 13 of Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Sailor, (An Inside Narrative) (courtesy of http://books.mirror.org/melville/billybudd.txt)

    In this long passage from The Scarlet Letter, Roger Chillingworth not only admits to becoming the demon who has tormented Arthur Dimmesdale beyond reason, but recognizes as well that he has no power to pardon, that is, no power to alter the evil that has grown in him. For Chillingworth the evil is the same as fate, a darkness out of his control that he must, of necessity, act out. Melville's John Claggart, the villain of Herman Melville's Billy Budd, Sailor, is described in strikingly similar, if more elaborated, terms. Like Chillingworth, he cannot "annul the elemental evil in him" and so must act out his dark part.

  • Echoes of Hawthorne in Melville's Billy Budd: an essay by Dr. John W. Stuart, Department of English, Manchester-Essex Regional High School, Manchester, MA, prepared for the Hawthorne in Salem Website, November 2003

    Melville's novelette Billy Budd connects with Hawthorne in several respects: I.) an allusion to Hawthorne's short story "The Birthmark"; II.) tensions of same sex relationships that mirror situations in both the real lives and fictional narratives of Hawthorne and Melville; and III.) a preoccupation with the nature of evil, an ongoing subject of fascination for both authors.

  • Full Text of Preface to Mosses from an Old Manse

  • Full text of "Hawthorne and His Mosses" - Review of Mosses from an Old Manse by Herman Melville.





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