- Hardcover: 291 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (November 30, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1412842476
- ISBN-13: 978-1412842471
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,464,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nathaniel Hawthorne as Political Philosopher: Revolutionary Principles Domesticated and Personalized 1st Edition
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“[R]elates Hawthorne’s work to the opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, displaying remarkable command of the philosophical ramifications of the document in American polity and their reflection in Hawthorne’s work… [A]n astute reading of Hawthorne’s work, Puritan society, Hawthorne’s society, and contemporary society… Highly recommended.”
—M. S. Stephenson, Choice
“Do the great American novelists have anything to teach us about America, specifically about its epochal experiment in democracy? For most literary critics, the answer is 'No,' but for John Alvis, it is emphatically 'Yes.' With Hawthorne as a case study, Alvis uses his considerable skills as a close reader to show that a novelist can be a political philosopher. Covering all of Hawthorne’s major and much of his minor fiction, with an emphasis on The Scarlet Letter, Alvis’ book is a significant contribution to our understanding of American literature and of America itself.”
—Paul A. Cantor, Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Virginia
“Alvis’ sensitive and moving account of Hawthorne’s tales demonstrates their profound relevance to the American political tradition. Equality finds its support in human sympathy, while liberty is required by the sanctity of the human heart. By conceiving of the declaration’s principles as moral imperatives, Alvis’ Hawthorne places American liberalism on a moral plane that speaks to its defenders and critics alike. Alvis not only deepens our appreciation of Hawthorne, but helps us to understand the meaning of America’s identity and the fundamental principles that define us as nation. Nathaniel Hawthorne as Political Philosopher stands as a model for studies in politics and literature.”
—Mary P. Nichols, professor and director of graduate studies, Baylor University
About the Author
John E. Alvis is professor of English and director of American studies at the University of Dallas. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Shakespeare as Political Thinker, Divine Purpose and Heroic Response in Homer and Virgil, and Milton’s Political Writings.
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Being well versed in political thought, both ancient and modern including Milton, Professor Alvis sees that Hawthorne's fiction is an attempt to think through the democratic principles announced in the Declaration of Independence. Professor Alvis does this by close readings of Hawthorne's short stories and novels especially The Scarlet Letter. Through reading this book, I went back to the original stories to see how powerful a thinker Hawthorne was and still is especially about the human heart. In particular, one can see how Hawthorne sees how the family is affected by these principles.
It is Professor Alvis's credit that he does not shy away from the problem of Hawthorne not confronting the issue of slavery in America in his fiction since that issue cuts through the heart of the Declaration of Independence. I personally do not think that Professor Alvis confronts Hawthorne strongly enough especially since a major focus of this book concerned the family. I do not know whether Hawthorne read Garrison's The Liberator; but, he should have known how slave masters generally denied religion and marriage to their slaves, sundered slave families including children whom they fathered and then sold. For me, Hawthorne was negligent in this matter when he was so concerned about the family.
Since so much of Professor Alvis' book is focussed on the family, husbands and wives to be as well as the problems that arise as a result of adultery, it is worthy to note that Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin was authored by a woman, for women in order for wives to influence and affect their husband's opinions concerning slavery.