Starting from Hawthorne's statement that his works are attempts to open an intercourse with the world, Kenneth Dauber examines them to see how they serve as acts of communication. Thus his investigation of a major American writer studies Hawthorne as a craftsman, explores the conditions under which various interpretations of literature are possible, and lays the foundation for a new theory of genres.
The author begins with a brief history of American criticism from the rediscovery of classic American letters to the present. He traces the development of historicism and formalism as the two major strains of native critical thought and demonstrates their specific limitations in connection with a study of Hawthorne's allegory. By redefining literature according to Hawthorne's work and reexamining the role of the critic in view of the circumstances of American letters, Professor Dauber is able to propose a native poetics. Central to the author's theory is the concept of genre as a pre-existing structure with which Hawthorne battled and through which he sought communion. This ambivalence is analyzed in chapters on the four novels and selected stories.
First published in 1977.
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