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A Passion for Getting It Right

Essays and Appreciations in Honor of Michael J. Colacurcio’s 50 Years of Teaching

Edited By Carol M. Bensick

For 50 years Michael J. Colacurcio has been a leader in the criticism of early and antebellum American literature. In The Province of Piety, New Essays on The Scarlet Letter, Doctrine and Difference, and Godly Letters, as well as editions and often-reprinted reviews and essays, Dr. Colacurcio has continued to defend a rare vision of the political and intellectual depth of America’s serious fiction and the aesthetic power and charm of its religious poetry and prose. In light of many honors such as the Book of the Year Award from the Conference of Christianity and Literature and election in 2007 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, UCLA raised him to the rank of Distinguished Professor. Yet for all his dedication to research, his students know him as an unforgettable teacher, who has continued to win several teaching awards at both Cornell and UCLA. The present volume aspires to celebrate Dr. Colacurcio’s 50 years of transformative teaching through an exciting bounty of original and classic essays by some of his most talented students and eminent colleagues from his very first years at Cornell up to and including his current students at UCLA.
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“Singularly Connected” in Septimius: Multiple Perspectives in Hawthorne’s Late Work

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ROBERT DALY

There is thus a dualism in this contrast between the unity and multiplicity.1

—Alfred North Whitehead

“You and I are singularly connected, doubt it not, in the scenes of the unknown world,”2 says the monochrome white dying British officer, Cyril Norton, to the dark, hybrid American Septimius Felton, who has just mortally wounded him in an impromptu duel on which Norton, newly arrived in Concord and eager to begin his part in the Revolutionary War, has insisted. Septimius: A Romance, narrated by a first-person but unnamed narrator who makes explicit homologies between the Revolution and the Civil War, explores the consequences of that encounter.

As Michael Colacurcio has cogently argued in his analysis of “Legends of the Province House,” this “outside narrator” is a person of “decidedly ordinary perceptions,”3 and “the narrator turns out to know less than his tales imply” (391). Colacurcio demonstrated, of the “Legends,” that “either they are about the American Revolution or they are about nothing” (390). The same may be said of Septimius. Like Colacurcio, I wish to read in detail and in context, to read the implications or subtext that the narrator does not notice but that we readers should if we are to understand Hawthorne’s late take on the American Revolution.

It presents a coherent story yet retains, as Una wrote in her preface to the first edition, which she and Robert Browning transcribed from Hawthorne’s manuscript,...

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