Deanna Fernie, Hawthorne, Sculpture, and the Question of American Art

Posted by Ann Donahue, Senior Editor

There is a pleasing synchronicity when an author is born on a date that resonates with his life and work. Thus it is with the July 4th birthday of Nathaniel Hawthorne, who is perhaps best known for directing an unflinching gaze at America’s Puritan origins and whose ancestors include John Hawthorne, a judge who presided over the Salem witch trials. But Hawthorne’s engagement with his Puritan forebears is only one facet of Hawthorne the writer.

Hawthorne, Sculpture, and the Question of American Art

In Hawthorne, Sculpture, and the Question of American Art, Deanna Fernie analyses the recurring motif of the fragment in Hawthorne’s fiction, tracing Hawthorne’s interrogation of the origins and possibilities of American art relative to established European models.

“From Leamington to Stratford-on-Avon” Hawthorne wrote, “the distance is eight or nine miles, over a road that seemed to me most beautiful.” How fitting, therefore, that Fernie’s book was launched at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Deanna Fernie launching her book

At the launch, Fernie spoke of Hawthorne’s connections with Stratford and Leamington, noting that the title of his Twice-Told Tales comes from Shakespeare’s play King John. Born on the Fourth of July and recognized as an exemplary American writer, Hawthorne, Fernie shows, resists our efforts to categorize his life and his work. Ashgate is proud to include Dr. Fernie’s book in its growing list in American literature.

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