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Melville and Hawthorne: Introduction

Melville and Hawthorne: Introduction

Material prepared by:
John W. Stuart, Ph.D., Department of English
Manchester-Essex Regional High School, Manchester, MA

"A Tanglewood Tale," a play about the relationship between Hawthorne and Melville in the Berkshires by Juliane and Stephen Glantz
"A Tanglewood Tale," a play about the relationship between Hawthorne and Melville in the Berkshires by Juliane and Stephen Glantz (courtesy of Shakespeare and Company)
 
Any study of Nathaniel Hawthorne inevitably leads to some reference to the author's numerous connections with other celebrated writers of his time. From fellow Bowdoin alumnus Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to Concord neighbors and friends Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hawthorne's eloquent companions comprise a remarkable portion of America's nineteenth century literary Pantheon. None shared a greater personal and professional influence, however, than Hawthorne's younger-by-fifteen-years neighbor in Lenox, Massachusetts, the great novelist Herman Melville. Dedicating his masterpiece Moby-Dick to Hawthorne, Melville reveals both his admiration and affection for Hawthorne as his inspirational mentor and beloved friend. The mysterious break in the intimacy between the two men finds enigmatic allusions in Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance where Hawthorne-like narrator Miles Coverdale repeatedly tells the reader of his love for Melville-like Hollingsworth but ultimately rejects the latter's proposal that he become his "friend of friends, forever." The internal evidence of the novels as well as the authors' surviving correspondence serves to intrigue contemporary literary scholars as well as playwrights Juliane and Stephen Glantz, whose drama A Tanglewood Tale brings the Hawthorne-Melville relationship to the stage.



Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/10040/


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