The French Face of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Monsieur de l’Aubépine and His Second Empire Critics

Historical Introduction and Translations by Michael Anesko and N. Christine Brookes


Literary Criticism/American
310 pp. 6x9

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“These essays, in conjunction with the Introduction, constitute a major addition to our understanding of a significant moment in literary history, not only with respect to Hawthorne’s critical reception in France, but also to that reception’s influence on Henry James’s Hawthorne, and to later critical positions and affinities. The scholarship itself is comprehensive and informed—and the attention to detail, especially with respect to translation and the complex context in which it operates, is, in my opinion, extraordinary.” —John Dolis, professor of English and American studies, Penn State University, Scranton

Most students of American literature probably can recall the playful French nom de plume—Monsieur de l’Aubépine—that Nathaniel Hawthorne occasionally employed to disguise some of his early attempts at authorship. But very few will know that Monsieur de l’Aubépine enjoyed a surprisingly intelligent critical reception in France during his lifetime. No fewer than six—often startling—essays about the American author appeared in leading French periodicals from 1852 to 1864. The French Face of Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Michael Anesko and N. Christine Brookes, recuperates these lost (or forgotten) critical assessments, making available to English readers for the first time the full texts of these extraordinary contemporaneous French critical essays. Besides offering elegantly rendered (and helpfully annotated) translations of the essays, Anesko and Brookes analyze them in relation to their immediate historical context and examine their unexpected relevance to later critical trends and arguments.

Literary scholarship in our own time calls more and more for the enlargement of perspective and the adaptation of our reading practices to dismantle the narrower limits of nationalist traditions. The French Face of Nathaniel Hawthorne is a remarkable body of work that can help scholars better understand the complexity of transatlantic cultural exchange in the nineteenth century.

Michael Anesko is professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. N. Christine Brookes is associate professor of French at Central Michigan University.