Hawthorne’s Son

The Life and Literary Career of Julian Hawthorne

Maurice Bassan


Jan 1970
Literary criticism/American
284pp. 6x9

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In the course of a long life that spanned Transcendental Concord, literary London and New York, and California, where he died in 1934 at the age of eighty-eight, Julian Hawthorne achieved eminence as a novelist, journalist, social critic, and literary theoretician. He was also a Swedenborgian, a utopian socialist, and, paradoxically, a speculator. As an author, he far exceeded the literary production of his famous father, composing no less than twenty-six novels and romances, over sixty short stories, almost a hundred essays, and several lengthy works of history, biography, and autobiography.

But Julian was first and foremost, in the eyes of critics of his own time and those who followed, “Hawthorne’s son”—a destiny that he himself came gradually to recognize and to cherish. In this critical biography, Mr. Bassan examines Julian Hawthorne’s imperfect life in the light of the parental image that ever hovered over it, recounts the story of an often colorful career, and analyzes selectively the more notable of the literary works it produced. Mr. Bassan contends that some of Julian’s writings are worthy of serious consideration and that the father’s example served to strengthen rather than to demoralize the life and the art of the son. For, Mr. Bassan points out, if one examines the younger Hawthorne’s Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife and other works, as well as the details of his career, one cannot escape the impression that the son was a student of his father who, through love and intelligence, came to understand the meaning of his heritage and to secure his own identity within it.

Maurice Bassan is associate professor of English at San Francisco State College.