Influence of Political Events and Ideologies on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Political Vision and Writings

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Drawing upon the disciplines of literary analysis and political theory, this study reviews and considers the notable influence of actual political events and ideologies on Hawthorne, and argues that he reacted to radical reform ideologies with a set of beliefs and understandings characteristic of the conservative political thinker. It also demonstrates that Hawthorne, like Burke, distinguished between the philosophic justification for the American Revolution and the ideological impetus for the French Revolution.

“The brooding pessimism underlying Nathaniel Hawthorne’s fiction has often drawn scholarly comment, but Kathleen Colgan’s courageous book takes us directly to the smouldering edge of his profound doubts about human nature and social institutions. . . . Colgan’s articulate and deeply researched study pays particular attention to Hawthorne’s attitudes regarding the philosophers, historians, and events connected with the French Revolution, and then identifies the echoes of these opinions in his fiction and essays. The result is a book that reminds us again that we cannot outrun history and moreover, that Hawthorne can never be adequately understood outside the political and cultural context of his times.” – Alan Gribben

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
1. Introduction: Nathaniel Hawthorne and Political Reform
2. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Conservative Philosophy
3. Hawthorne’s Concept of Human Nature and Original Sin in the Philosophy of Conservative Reform
4. Hawthorne’s Conservatism and the Democratic Dilemma
5. The Role of the “Past” in Hawthorne’s Philosophy of Conservative Reform
6. Hawthorne’s Response to Comtean Positivism in the Philosophy of Conservative Reform
7. Hawthorne and Conservative Reform in the American Revolution
8. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edmund Burke: Conservative Perspectives on Reform in “Earth’s Holocaust” and the French Revolution
9. Conclusion: Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Philosophy of Conservative Reform
Bibliography; Index

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