The Business of Reflection

Hawthorne in His Notebooks

Edited by Robert Milder and Randall Fuller


Feb 2009
Literary Criticism/American/General
268 pp. 6x9

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“This expert selection of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s notebook entries constitutes a valuable and eminently readable contribution to the Hawthorne canon. Milder and Fuller’s ample selection of the best entries represents a welcome separation of the wheat from the chaff in these works. The scholarship of the Introduction and Notes to this volume is sound and informed, and the entries themselves are well chosen, for both interest and importance. It will be an indispensable volume for every Hawthorne scholar.” —Larry J. Reynolds, author of Devils and Rebels: The Making of Hawthorne’s Damned Politics

The Business of Reflection is unique and thus has no rival. Robert Milder and Randall Fuller have gathered a fine, almost completely representative sampling of Hawthorne’s notebook entries. Their Introduction to the essays presents a well-rounded Hawthorne, and the identification of passages that relate to specific publications is most helpful.” —Frederick Newberry, professor of English, Duquesne University

The Business of Reflection: Hawthorne in His Notebooks is a scholarly, annotated selection of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s American Notebooks, English Notebooks, and French and Italian Notebooks culled from the authoritative Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Ohio State University Press, 23 volumes) and intended both for students and teachers of American literature and for general readers.

The American Notebooks (1835–53) cover the period of most of Hawthorne’s published writing and are crucial background for the genesis of his fiction, for his psychological and vocational development, for his marriage to Sophia Peabody, and for his relationships with contemporaries such as Emerson, Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller. The English Notebooks (1853–60) record his experiences and impressions during his residence in England, among them his incisive and influential sketch of Herman Melville. The French and Italian Notebooks (1858–59) are a sourcebook for Hawthorne’s last published romance, The Marble Faun, and, as Henry James observed, for his deeply ambivalent response to the aesthetic and historical legacy of European civilization.

Taken together, Hawthorne’s notebooks are essential materials for studying Hawthorne as a writer and a man. They present him at his most candid, intimate, and robust—a many-sided figure who complements and revises the persona known from his published writings, often in unexpected ways.

Robert Milder is professor of English at Washington University in St Louis. Randall Fuller is associate professor of English at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.