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Liquid Fire

Transcendental Mysticism in the Romances of Nathaniel Hawthorne


Harvey L. Gable Jr.

Liquid Fire exposes the sophisticated discourse about the Self in Hawthorne's romances that serves not only as the foundation of Hawthorne's imagery, but often as the architectonic of the romance as a whole. Beginning with a study of contemporary constructions of the Self and meaning in the thought of New England clergyman Horace Bushnell, philosopher R. W. Emerson, and mesmerist J. P. F. Deleuze, the argument traces Hawthorne's involvement with these ideas and the process of his conversion to them, culminating in detailed analyses of the four major romances that show how deeply they are worked with speculations about the nature of the Self and its ambient reality. Later works are largely incoherent without this perspective on their construction.