• He [Hawthorne] is an American High Romantic, akin to Emerson, Melville, and Whitman, and not at all a neo-orthodox ancestor of T.S.Eliot. He celebrates the sexual vitality of women as a potentially saving force, tragically curtailed by male inadequacy and social restraint. “Rappaccini’s Daughter” is a … … and expresses Hawthorne’s subtle despair at the prolongation of patriarchal society.
  • Though akin to Whitman’s eroticizing of Emersonianism, Hawthorne’s swerve was very different. Whitman was an Epicurean materialist, while Hawthorne remained a low transcendentalist in some aspects, including Emerson’s American Religion of self-reliance. Hester Prynne exemplifies one version of that faithless faith, and Henry Jame’s Isabel Archer will attain another. Both heroines secularize what might be called the American Will, which Hester manifests by remaining in New England rather than joining her daughter, Pearl, in Europe.


  • Except for Hawthorne and James, American male novelists have not been able to represent American women with the force and vivacity that have marked the English tradition, from … … In our century, the women portrayed by Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald are generally less vivid than the men, with a few significant exceptions.
  • The extraordinary Hawthronean imagination, wandering between mimetic realism and High Romance, has given us an overwhelming personality and puzzling moral character in the sensual and tragic Hester, who is at once the ideal object of Hawthorne’s desire and a troubled projection of Hawthorne’s authorial subjectivity, cast out from him but never definitely. Strong writers of romance are both subject and object of their own quests, and there is a profound sense in which Hester is as much a representation of Hawthrone’s deep inwardness as Clarissa is Richardson’s vision of his inmost self.
  • We sense the movement of sexual power into an antinomian context, but Hawthorne partly evades us such a movement in Hester. He will not let her prophesy and will not quite prophesy for her. This makes the book spiritually irritating to some readers, particularly at the present time, but undoubtedly helps create its aesthetic strength, since the reader becomes convinced that there is more to Hester than the storyteller is willing to unfold. We want her to say more, to do more, and yet we understand the appropriateness of the way the book both arouses such desires and refuses to gratify them.
  • I begin to doubt that any American novelist, female or male, is going to create a character who transcends Hester Prynne as a representation of the irreconcilable demands placed upon an American woman, even in an age supposedly no longer Puritan. Feminism, in its latest phase, struggles with the lasting residuum of Puritan values while remaining deeply contaminated by them. It may even be that current literary feminism is destined to become our new or newest Puritanism, imposing uniform ideals upon intellectual women, by again refusing any alliance between their sexuality and their potential antinomianism.

Hebraic: 希伯来; antinomian: 反律法主义; recoil: 后坐力; residuum: 渣油; gratify: 放纵


  • Too much of the romance is a clumsy guidebook to the history, art, and architecture of a city profoundly alien to Hawthorne and to his American protagonists Hilda and Kenyon.


  • The acknowledged master of American prose fiction composed his critical essays and reviews intrepidly but perhaps not always wisely. His book Hawthorne (1879) reveals something about Henry James while displaying little insight into his prime American precursor.

altar: 坛; ruse: 谋略; parody: 滑稽模仿


  • Like many socially awkward small boys of the 1930s, my first love affairs were with the heroines of novels … … As a nine-year-old, I wept when Marty South cut off her long hair, and I experienced exultance when Hardy celebrated Eustacia Vye as his Queen of Night. Falling in love with Isabel Archer a few years later, in adolescence, was very different, since unlike Marty, Eustacia, and the Brangwen sisters, James’s wonderful heroine seemed outside the sphere of sexual desire.
  • I have quoted all of this because it is the great set piece if the novel and a Jamesian triumph of pace, proportion, diction, and profound compassion. The perfect rightness of the mutual tact that is a mode of love is exquisitely rendered. Here, at least, Isabel’s story touches tragic dignity.

wept: 哭泣


  • Ellipsis, the art of leaving things out, transmits from late Shakespeare to the final James. We know Milly far less overtly than we do Kate Croy, … … The plotlessness of The Tempest, where almost nothing happens while everything is implied, is a model for the meaningful absences of Milly … …
  • Wings at last is the Milly Theale Passion, another scripture of Emerson’s American Religion, akin of Song of Myself, Moby-Dick, Walden, The Scarlet Letter, the poems of Emily Dickinson. Wings also raises the burden of our common life to a daemonic sublimity.

hideous: 狰狞; nadir: 最低点; incarnate: 体现; maelstrom: 漩涡

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