Mesmerism and Hawthorne: Mediums of American Romance

Mesmerism and Hawthorne: Mediums of American Romance

By: Samuel Coale (author)Paperback

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Coale explores the profound influence that the mesmerist and spiritualist 'craze' of the 1840s and 1850s had on Hawthorne's artistic vision and fictional techniques. Nathaniel Hawthorne despised both mesmerism and spiritualism, viewing these pseudosciences as new incarnations of witchcraft, in which the master-slave relationship overwhelms all others. Nevertheless, even though he regarded the psychological paradigm behind these pseudosciences as morally repellent, he also, as Samuel Chase Coale convincingly shows, recognized its accuracy. In creating what he called romances, Hawthorne employed his own mesmerist-like strategies and thus created texts that participate in the very medium he abhorred. In effect, Coale concludes, Hawthorne's romances constitute a form of mesmeric expression themselves. Coale's examination of the processes of mesmerism- the creation of the trance, the entry into its dreamlike state, the psychology of idolatry produced by this procedure- clearly reveals the affinities between mesmerism and Hawthorne's art.

About Author

Samuel Chase Coale is Professor of American Literature at Wheaton College. He is the author of several books on American writers, including In Hawthorne's Shadow: American Romance from Melville to Mailer.

Product Details

  • ISBN13: 9780817310387
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 216
  • ID: 9780817310387
  • ISBN10: 081731038X

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