1st Edition

Psychoanalytic Readings of Hawthorne’s Romances
Narratives of Unconscious Crisis and Transformation

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after July 9, 2021
ISBN 9780367759094
July 9, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
224 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Offering innovative, psychoanalytic readings of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s mature novels, this volume expertly applies Freudian theory to present new insights into the psychology of Hawthorne’s characters and their fates.

By critically examining scenes in which protagonists confront past traumas, Diamond underscores the transformative potential which Hawthorne attributes to confrontations with the unconscious. Psychoanalytic narrative technique is used to illuminate psychological crises of the protagonists in The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun, showing the transformations they undergo to be central to our understanding of the trajectory and resolution of Hawthorne’s romances.

The text will benefit researchers, academics, and educators with an interest in applied psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic technique, and Freud in particular. Since its conclusions challenge many currently held critical views, this volume is especially relevant to those interested in interdisciplinary literary studies, Hawthorne studies, 19th century literature and romanticism.

Table of Contents


1. Introduction

2. The Transformations of Arthur Dimmesdale in The Scarlet Letter: "That self was gone!"

3. The Transformation of Holgrave in The House of the Seven Gables: "The black moment became at once a blissful one"

4. Zenobia’s Suicide in The Blithedale Romance: "But, all this while, we have been standing by Zenobia’s grave"

5. Miriam’s Transformation in The Marble Faun: "The tragic dignity of their hour of crime"

6. Hester's Return to Boston in The Scarlet Letter: "Her whole orb of life both before and after, was connected with this spot, as with the one point that gave it unity"

Afterword: Hawthorne off the Couch


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David B. Diamond is a psychoanalyst and psychiatrist in clinical practice. He was formerly Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and served as Director of Outpatient Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA.


"In this innovative book Dr David Diamond applies his Freudian psychoanalytic understanding to the pivotal emotional transformations major characters undergo in reaction to life crises in Hawthorne’s four classic romances. Closely following Hawthorne’s narrative, the author provides a new and interesting contribution to the extensive Hawthorne literature by filling in psychological gaps in each of these novels. His clear and concise writing will help both the serious scholar and the general reader gain a greater understanding of these American masterpieces."

- Jonathan F. Borus, Stanley Cobb Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, USA