Hawthorne, Sculpture, and the Question of American Art: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Hawthorne, Sculpture, and the Question of American Art

1st Edition

By Deanna Fernie


294 pages

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Hardback: 9780754654797
pub: 2011-04-28
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Deanna Fernie analyzes the significance of sculpture in Hawthorne's fiction through the recurring motif of the fragment in its double guise as ruin and project. Her book casts new light on Hawthorne's memorable ruined and unfinished images, from the rough-hewn figurehead of 'Drowne's Wooden Image' (1844) to the tattered letter 'A' in the unfinished loft of the Custom House in The Scarlet Letter (1850) and the unfinished bust of Donatello in The Marble Faun (1860). Fernie shows how the tension between the formed and unformed enabled Hawthorne to interrogate the origins and the distinctive possibilities of art in America in relation to established European models. At the same time, she suggests that sculpture challenged and provoked Hawthorne's shaping of his own specifically literary art, stimulating him to develop its capacities for expressing irresolution and change. Fernie establishes the intellectual contexts for her study through a discussion of sculpture and fragmentary form as revealed in American, British, and Continental thought. Her book will be an important text not only for American literature scholars but also for anyone interested in British and Continental Romanticism and the intersections of art and literature.


'Ambitious and original, Fernie’s work on Hawthorne throws into relief the crucial ways in which the development of sculpture and writing informed each other in early nineteenth-century America. As she explores Hawthorne’s use of sculpture to understand the representational limits of writing, she illuminates not only Hawthorne’s development as a writer, but also his understanding of America and its limits. Beautifully written, its deft use of literary theory and cultural history combines with a highly refined literary sensibility to produce a book that gives us a different Hawthorne than the one we may think we know.' Pamela Schirmeister, Yale University, USA

'Fernie's book offers ambitious, thickly researched, and valuable analyses of sculpture as both fact and analogue in Hawthorne's fiction. Her illuminating readings of Kenyon's unfinished bust of Donatello and the emerging figurehead in Drowne's Wooden Image, for example, provide provocative insights into Hawthorne's attitudes toward his own art, American artists, and the emerging country itself.' Rita K. Gollin, State University of New York, Geneseo, USA

'This well-written, multi-layered book, which deals both with the history and development of American art in relation to European traditions and with Hawthorne's appreciation of and quarrels with it, presents a clearly defined and careful argument as offered by Deanna Fernie… [she] has written a provocative and evocative book, rich with possibilities, clear in her careful arguments, and lavishly illustrated to prove her many points about sculpture and its uses in Hawthorne's fiction.' Cercles

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: the chiseling pen; American Laokoon; Ruin or project?; An American Michelangelo; The shattered fountain; Donatello's bust; Epilogue: sculpting America; Works cited; Index.

About the Author

Dr Deanna Fernie is an independent scholar who has studied and taught on both sides of the Atlantic.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature