Dearest Beloved – The Hawthornes & the Making of the Middle–Class Family

Author T. Walter Herbert
Condition Very Good
Cover Type Hardback

The marriage of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne – for their contemporaries a model of true love and happiness – was also a scene of revulsion and combat. In this penetrating study, T. Walter Herbert reveals the tragic conflicts beneath the Hawthorne’s ideal of domestic fulfillment and shows how their marriage reflected the tensions within 19th-century society. In so doing, he sheds new light on Hawthorne’s fiction, with its obsessive themes of guilt and grief, balked feminism and homosexual seduction, adultery, patricide and incest. Using the Hawthorne’s private journals, Herbert traces both the feminist rage hidden in Sophia’s wifely subservience and the crippling anxieties that attended Nathaniel’s pursuit of manly success. While the Hawthornes looked forward to the coming of the children – whose divine innocence would complete their paradise – those children became the objects of an intense but damaging love. And even as the terrible domestic drama lent imaginative power to Nathaniel’s writing, his life and work were generating new middle-class definitions of the family.