In the two weeks that I was home for Christmas break, I saw a number of teachers from my high school. One night the last week I was home, I was having dinner with an English teacher. After discussing the semester that had just ended, I told him what classes I was taking this semester, including the course on Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville. He told me something that I found incredibly interesting. "You know, Hawthorne and Melville were good friends, and in pretty much the same area as you are going to school," he told me.
I hadn't known that. I knew that a lot of literary figures wrote in Massachusetts, even in the Berkshires: Emily Dickinson in Amherst, Edith Wharton in the Berkshires. I associated Hawthorne with Salem and Melville with somewhere in New England. The idea of the Berkshires 150 years ago intrigues me, and the idea that all of these people were here makes it even more interesting. American literature had never seemed much more personal to me than European literature; that is, until coming here I never felt any closer associations to American literature because of the setting since I didn't consider the setting of American literature particularly relevant to me in the Virgin Islands. Suddenly Hawthorne and Melville seemed more accessible to me. Immediately I could see the forest scenes in The Scarlet Letter as taking place in woods I knew by Simon's Rock; the babbling brook became something bearing striking resemblance to Green River. As to Hawthorne and Melville being friends, I had many questions: How and when did they meet? How close to each other were they? Did they influence each other's writing? How much of a record of their relationship had been recorded? Did they write about each other? Did they remain friends for all of their lives? I had found not just a topic for a paper, but questions that I wanted answered.
Not too surprisingly, I didn't give the topic much thought for the next few weeks. The semester hadn't even started yet. And then on the first day of class I learned that we were expected to write a non-traditional research paper and that Hawthorne and Melville had met picnicking on Monument Mountain. Hearing about their first encounter, I had an incredibly silly image in my head. I saw two men, carrying copies of The Scarlet Letter and Moby-Dick, getting rather intoxicated while a bunch of children around them were playing laser tag. An absolutely absurd image, as laser tag in the 1850's would have been quite a trick. But the point of the image was clear: The Berkshires, the place where I am now, is a place full of legend and history. I saw myself and the rest of the class at Monument Mountain reading their works. Monument Mountain still exists. The literature of the two authors still exists. And in a sense, the authors do as well. They were more alive, more real and human (not only literary figures), to me at that moment than I had imagined possible.
A few weeks later I turned to the Internet to find information on Hawthorne and Melville and get ideas for other possible paper topics. At first it was incredibly frustrating. The first sites I found from search engines were false starts; I sat through almost two hours of absolutely useless information, trivial background information, and obnoxious advertisements. I started thinking about how incredibly useless the Internet is, about how much garbage is on the Internet. I stumbled across "Hawthorne our largest collection of toilets," requests to visit some French resort, the ubiquitous "get your own personalized email account," and even pornography. My search continued, leading me to college syllabi, high school class projects, gothic web sites (too much Trent Reznor and the ever-frightening "Hello Kitty" goth site), and the "Abort, Retry, Ignore" parody. I wanted to find real information. Why, I wondered, aren't there more good literary sites on the web? I decided then that I wanted to compile information, to write something, and to have it accessible so that it could be useful for other people. I came to the conclusion that I wanted my project to be not just for the class, but for anyone who might be in a situation like myself and would appreciate finding information.
Finally, I hit the jackpot, ending up with over 200 pages of information (about 40 of which were useful). One of the things I found that interested me greatly was information about Sophia Hawthorne (http://english.ohio-state.edu/people/Bracken.1/Hawthorne/Sophia.htm) who was a writer and illustrator. I hadn't given much thought to Hawthorne and Melville's wives, and I was interested to learn that they were important figures. I became interested in finding out more about Sophia and Nathaniel Hawthorne and found titles of a few books and articles to read. For a little while I thought this would be my paper topic.
Continuing on my web search I stumbled across, not too surprisingly, www.melville.org. This web site proved to be a real wealth of information. In fact, I finally emailed email@example.com (being the person whose name was listed on a number of the pages) and had some correspondence with him. (Oddly enough, a few weeks later I wrote a script to analyze weblogs and found a connection to a picture of me on April's web site from a computer named ahab.melville.org less than half an hour before I received my first email response.) I found a very good introduction to the relationship between Hawthorne and Melville. In the summer of 1850 Melville moved to Pittsfield. Hawthorne lived less than six miles away in Lenox. On August 5, 1850 the two authors met on a picnic at Monument Mountain, hosted by David Dudley Field. Hawthorne was forty-six and Melville was thirty-one, a large enough age difference for many to comment on Melville's feelings for Hawthorne being a search for the father figure he had lost early in life. (I later found some rather Freudian readings of their relationship). They started visiting each other almost immediately after that and kept up their friendship for two years, meeting again rather unceremoniously four years later in Liverpool. The article speculates that their relationship tapered off because Melville was too clingy and Hawthorne's success (relative to Melville's) created a barrier. In 1852 Melville wrote to Hawthorne with an idea for a story ("The Story of Agatha") that he thought Hawthorne could write better than he could, but it appears that neither of them ever wrote it (http://www.melville.org/hawthrne.htm).
At www.melville.org/corresp.htm, I was surprised to find twelve letters from Melville to Hawthorne. I read through them eagerly, fascinated by their content, as well as that I was able to find them so easily. At this point I was nearly singing praises to the Internet. Finding the letters without the Internet would have been much more time-consuming. As it was, given four hours of work, I was able to read what Melville had written to Hawthorne, something I consider to be one of the most authoritative (and certainly authentic) sources for my paper.
What follows is really a series of quotations from these letters. This is the only time in my Inquiry Log that I will do a lot of quoting instead of paraphrasing (sorry), but I feel it is necessary to do this because the letters are one of my only primary sources. That is, I (and other scholars) can speculate about Hawthorne and Melville, but authenticity is lost in the paraphrase.
Their relationship consisted of a series of letters and a number of visits, usually to Hawthorne's abode. Melville does invite Hawthorne to visit him as well, saying he will extend all courtesies to Hawthorne and also telling him that his is not a "prim nonsensical house" (Melville, Letter to Hawthorne, January 1851). His invitation was extended to the whole family, showing that Melville's relationship was not only with Nathaniel, but with his family, the sort of family that Melville never had. Alcohol shows up numerous times in the letters. The two writers drank together frequently, mixing "wine with wisdom," and even (shh! don't tell Sophia) drinking in the Hawthornes' sitting room. In their letters they also discussed their works. Melville includes a review of Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables and talks often about his "Whale." Melville also makes Hawthorne aware of his increasing financial troubles, saying "Dollars damn me; and the malicious Devil is forever grinning in upon me" (Melville, Letter to Hawthorne, June 1851).
After less than a year of letters it seems that Hawthorne was getting slightly tired with their correspondence, and Melville responds that he means "to continue visiting [until he is told that his] visits are both supererogatory and superfluous" (Melville, Letter to Hawthorne, June 1851). In the same letter Melville gets hot and steamy, echoing the sentiments and idea of the seed from "Hawthorne and His Mosses:" "if we shall then cross our celestial legs in the celestial grass that is forever tropical, and strike our glasses and our heads together, till both musically ring in concert." He continues in the letter: "Your legs seem to send out shoots into the earth. Your hair feels like leaves upon your head. This is the all feeling." Later that month, Melville writes Hawthorne again to invite him to visit and to invite himself to visit Hawthorne. He asks if he should send Hawthorne his Moby-Dick even though it is not finished (Melville, Letter to Hawthorne, June 29, 1851).
Melville tries to recapture the feelings he had when he first read one of Hawthorne's letters to him. "I felt pantheistic then -- your heart beat in my ribs and mine in yours, and both in God's. A sense of unspeakable security is in me this moment, on account of your having understood the book. I have written a wicked book, and feel spotless as the lamb" (Melville, Letter to Hawthorne, November 1851). In addition to sharing hearts, Melville also write about them having the same lips with which they drink the "flagon of life." Melville recognizes how personal his letter is and is embarrassed by his writing. He feels the need to state that he is not mad even though he is incoherent. He concludes, "What a pity, that, for your plain, bluff letter, you should get such gibberish! Mention me to Mrs. Hawthorne and to the children, and so, good-by to you, with my blessing." Then he adds the postscript: "Don't think that by writing me a letter, you shall always be bored with an immediate reply to it -- and so keep both of us delving over a writing-desk eternally. No such thing! I sh'n't always answer your letters, and you may do just as you please" (Melville, Letter to Hawthorne, November 1851).
Their correspondences tapers significantly, and then Melville writes to Hawthorne with an idea for a story (the Agatha story) which he thinks Hawthorne would be better able to write. Later Hawthorne tells Melville he should write the story, but neither of them ever do.
And that is, more or less, their surviving correspondence. Hawthorne's letters were destroyed although his journals, which I later read, remain. Reading the letters I felt that something was missing. Melville and Hawthorne write fairly frequently, Melville becomes rather impassioned, and then the letters become less frequent. After reading the letters, I was more puzzled by and curious about the disintegration of their friendship. I was also dying to know, or to hypothesize, what Hawthorne had written in response. I considered attempting to ghostwrite letters for him.
Most of my web based research was done that first night. But several weeks later after reading some books, I returned to webpages with more specific goals in mind. I obtained a copy of "Monody" (http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/mono.html), which I became interested in after seeing references to it as the poem Melville wrote as a tribute to Hawthorne upon his death. I attempted to analyze it making use of this background knowledge. "To have known him, to have loved him." Taken at face-value, Melville loved Hawthorne (in the readings different slants are put on the use of the word "love"). He writes of Hawthorne as being shy ("hermit-mound," "shyest grape") and he refers to vines and grapes, which might be a reference to the wine shared between the two men and hence their relationship. I intended to return to "Monody" and write some analysis of it, but as it is my paper is too long.
I had another great find besides the Internet. A few weeks into the semester I received a book from the teacher who had told me about Hawthorne and Melville. The book, by David Laskin, was about literary couplings: Melville and Hawthorne, James and Wharton, Porter and Welty, and Bishop and Lowell. The actual writing in the book was superior to that of the other books, essays, articles, and theses that I read on the topic, and it made for an enjoyable, leisurely read. Full of phrases like "distant vistas of undulating ridges and valleys," the text flowed in precisely the same way that Serge Lang's Undergraduate Algebra doesn't.
Laskin sites Duyckinck as the most reliable member of the party at Monument Mountain. He points out that the friendship between Hawthorne and Melville came at a pivotal time for both of them, and that this may not be coincidental, but it is "possible that the friendship blossomed because they both stood at critical turning points" (30). He also notes that their careers were moving in opposite directions at this time of intersection, implying that a break between the two was inevitable. On Melville's insanity, he says without much endorsement, "Melville's friendship with Hawthorne is all the more fascinating because it coincided with the first tremors of his collapse. Indeed, some biographers blame the collapse on Hawthorne, although this has stirred considerable controversy" (38-39).
On the Freudian question, he points out that both lost fathers during their childhood and that their "yearning for father love and guilt over paternal death haunts both of their fictions" (40). Melville valued a close male friendship. "In a pre-Freudian age, he could yearn for such a friendship and fantasize about it without worrying about homosexuality" (47). He can also write about homosexuality without worrying about critics. Thus, Laskin points out that while we consider the issue of homosexuality in literary study, it would not have been much of an issue at the time. This, I think, is an important point that many other scholars have forgotten.
On the often-quoted, "I feel that this Hawthorne has dropped germinous seeds into my soul." Laskin humorously remarks that "such a passage would probably provoke a sexual harassment suit today" (50). But again, he emphasizes that it would not have been taken as so suggestive at the time.
Laskin raises the question of Melville's intentions. Was his passion Platonic or not? This is one of the questions that I continued to consider in my research. Laskin makes some useful generalizations about fellow biographers, which I have chosen to include in a later section. Laskin's Hawthorne is one who is open to Melville's advances. Although Hawthorne's feelings were "more muted and more veiled" (Hawthorne and veils again), they both "shared appreciation of each other's writing" (48). Laskin considers their relationship to be a platonic and literary one. Laskin agrees with James Mellow that Hawthorne was receptive to Melville's advances. Hawthorne was not a sociable man. He had few friends in the Berkshires. That he extended invitations to Melville and regularly corresponded shows Hawthorne's interest. In short, Hawthorne's personality did not lend itself to the sort of show of emotion that Melville's did, but he was nonetheless interested in the younger writer and his friendship. Laskin says that Hawthorne must have welcomed Melville's friendship, as he was a talented and admiring colleague, but was disturbed by his sexual imagery. This shows up in Mellow's biography. But Laskin makes an argument that I agree with and feel many others have overlooked. If Hawthorne wanted to get rid of Melville's company, he would have. (This raises the question of why Hawthorne left the Berkshires.)
I am not sure I agree with Laskin's closing arguments. He sees Melville as a man aware that he is far more dependent on their friendship than Hawthorne is, and he fears that Hawthorne will take him to be insane. (This, I imagine, stems from one of Melville's letters.) John Updike agrees that Melville came on too strong, but thinks that "it is unlikely that this was what drove Hawthorne away; the friendship straggled on for years" (77). This is a good point. Many have referred to the estrangement, the breakup between Hawthorne and Melville, but they never seem to have had an open split aside from that of geography. As to why Hawthorne left the Berkshires, Laskin offers the usual reasons of climate, health, and the desire of city life. Laskin says "it seems that Melville was simply not important enough to Hawthorne to have influenced his decision one way or the other" (77). I don't agree with the implications of this statement; I think that Melville's influence on Hawthorne is often toned down, because as Laskin points out, Hawthorne does not often express his emotions.
Laskin believes the Hawthornes learned of Melville's authorship. On first reading, I took this as true. In fact, one of the main changes in my research was my increasing lack of willingness to believe anyone. Laskin says "Sophia, keeping a close eye on the developing friendship, warmed steadily to Melville, especially after she discovered that he was the mysterious Virginian" (52). Knowing not much about Hawthorne and Melville and reading from a book which is claiming to be something of an authority, I have no reason not to believe this. But as I did more research, I kept asking myself things like "Oh really? Where is this author getting this from? No one else refers to it. He has no evidence." So while Laskin casually mentions Sophia's knowledge, he offers no evidence, and I am skeptical.
Laskin paints a picture of Melville's relationship as being with the entire Hawthorne family. As evidence he offers Sophia Hathorne's letters (54). Melville must have envied Hawthorne's family life. Sophia, it seems, treated her husband as a god, and Melville never got that sort of reverence from his family. He often wrote about bachelorhood, and at Arrowhead was burdened by women whom he had to support. Laskin's Melville is also embarrassed by his desires. Every time Melville opens himself up and pours out emotion, he hides again behind apologies and jokes.
From the web, as well as from books and the five college card catalog (fclibr.library.umass.edu), I found a number of books which I tried to get. When I finally decided to call the Amherst library, they told me that my library card had expired and they wouldn't help me. I retaliated against Amherst's unwavering policies in the best way I could: I went to the Simon's Rock library. To understand what a personal sacrifice this is, you have to realize that I was willing to drive to Amherst to get books in order to avoid the library here. I go out of my way to avoid our library. But, I had a perfectly pleasant time in the library, only had to help change two things on their webpage, did searches online for Hawthorne and Melville, and filled out a dozen ILL requests. So maybe (not that I actually believe this) Amherst has driven me toward a more peaceful relationship with our library.
Before my ILLs came in, I checked out a number of books from the library. These were mostly biographies of Hawthorne and Melville. I figured this made sense since I was interested in biographical information. Most biographies being organized chronologically, I could read the introduction, conclusion, and the sections covering 1850-1852, and be reasonably sure that I had gleaned most of the relevant knowledge from the book. Even better, most of the biographies had detailed indexes, and so I quickly made a habit of picking up Hawthorne biographies and looking for Melville in the index and picking up Melville biographies and looking up Hawthorne in the index.
After reading several biographies in this way, the information started to blur together. A number of biographers were quoting each other or the same sources. The lines I have quoted from their correspondence are the lines that everyone had to quote. Every biography had Duyckinck's account of the trip up Monument Mountain. But there were differences in the biographies. Some, especially those about Hawthorne, didn't mention much about their relationship. Some tried to paint Melville as a more aggressive suitor. The two main disputing points can be termed homoeroticism and the estrangement. Homoeroticism refers to any homosexual elements or tendencies in their relationship or Melville's desires in the relationship. The estrangement refers to their falling out and Hawthorne's sudden departure from the Berkshires. Another question is whether Melville wrote "Hawthorne and His Mosses" before or after he met Hawthorne.
I started out with a series of questions, and from the books in the library I was able to attempt some answers. What follows is a compilation of responses to questions from research done in February. This includes the book by Laskin and the following five books from the library:
Hawthorne and Melville met at critical times in their lives, when they were writing The House of Seven Gables and Moby-Dick. They discussed writing a story together, the story of Agatha, but they never did, probably because Hawthorne didn't seem too interested. Moby-Dick was dedicated to Hawthorne "in token of [his] admiration for his genius." This is a dedication that I do not take lightly. Before I knew much about Hawthorne and Melville, this was one of the things that interested me. I reasoned that Hawthorne must have had a profound effect on Melville because it was to Hawthorne that the book was dedicated. I still believe this to be an important fact, and am puzzled by the lack of attention other scholars have paid to this fact. Hawthorne and Melville possibly based characters on each other in The Blithedale Romance and Pierre. Melville also wrote the poem "Monody," which I have referred to earlier, on Hawthorne's death.
Interestingly enough, it was Hawthorne who initiated the friendship. Melville does not comment on their meeting on Monument Mountain, but Hawthorne does and is so impressed that he invites Melville to visit him (Miller, 36). Melville is usually the one who is seen as effected by Hawthorne, but Melville doesn't make any initial comment on Hawthorne, while Hawthorne is clearly impressed. Perhaps this fits into the notion presented later by Frances Ware Kinney that Hawthorne was interested in Melville the man while Melville's love was for Hawthorne the author.
Melville's "Hawthorne and His Mosses" was published less than two weeks after meeting Hawthorne on Monument Mountain. For Miller it is not just a review, but a "lone letter, a confession which Melville can make safely within what purports to be a book review" (Miller, 36). Miller sees this as the first of Melville's literary "love offerings," the others being Moby-Dick (the consummation of the relationship) and Pierre (which is his tale of anguish and betrayal).
Nathaniel and Sophia were impressed by an anonymous Virginian who had written "Hawthorne and His Mosses" and were even more impressed and flattered when they found out that Melville was the author. Sophia and her husband found Melville to be "a man with a true, warm heart, and a soul and an intellect, with life to his finger-tips; earnest, sincere, and modest, [of] great ardor and simplicity truth and honesty" (Turner, 215).
Although Melville was clearly the forceful one in the relationship of the two men (Melville recognizes in a letter to Sophia that he is the suitor in their relationship (Turner, 215)), though this may be not because Hawthorne was unwilling but because of Hawthorne's personality. Hawthorne was very selective of his company: "He spent far more time with Melville than with any other of his neighbors, and perhaps more than he had ever spent in a comparable period, at Concord or anywhere else, with anyone outside his family" (Turner, 212). "It is true that Melville took the initiative and was persistent in cultivating the acquaintance, and that he later felt he had been rebuffed in his display of affection; but there is abundant evidence that Hawthorne had a high regard for his young neighbor and for his books" (Turner, 212). I think it is important to keep Hawthorne's personality in mind when considering his relationship with Melville.
Melville was "the aggressive suitor in their literary courtship, but Hawthorne was at least willing to be wooed" (Mellow, 341). Laskin says Hawthorne "thawed" in Melville's company, and that once the "damp, drizzly November closed in on the Berkshires, Hawthorne must have welcomed the companionship of a talented and ardently admiring younger colleague. Adept at ridding himself of unwanted company, he showed no signs of seeking to evade the squeeze of Melville's hand" (Laskin, 62). Despite numerous other readings, these quotations still best correspond with my interpretation of Hawthorne's feelings for Melville.
While Sophia was away and Melville was visiting, Hawthorne writes in his journal "It was a most beautiful night, with full, rich, cloudless moonlight, so that I would rather have ridden the six miles to Pittsfield, than have gone to bed." (Laskin, 65). Laskin points this out to illustrate that Hawthorne was not tired of Melville's company.
Both grew up without fathers. This was one of the first things I noticed in reading their biographies. It is also the first thing any scholar who does a Freudian reading of their relationship will notice. For some reason they all think fathers have something to do with Freud.
As Laskin points out, Melville's relationship wasn't just one with Hawthorne, but with the whole family. He got along well with Sophia (Laskin, 54). Melville also got along with the Hawthorne children who referred to him affectionately as Mr. Omoo. Hawthorne wrote in his journal that his son Julian "wanted to go again, and that he loved Mr. Melville as well as me, and as mamma, and as Una" (Laskin, 65).
After I had done some other reading, I became more interested in Sophia as a figure because of the comparisons that were being made between Hawthorne's family situation and that of Melville. It seems that Hawthorne had by far the happier family life. Melville would have loved to have been adopted into the Hawthorne family. Melville told his family that they were "the loveliest family he ha[d] ever met with, or anyone can possibly imagine" (Parker, 814). Some of Melville's writings express his dissatisfaction with his married life and his admiration for Hawthorne's wife. In a wistful tone, he wrote in a letter "how Sophia subordinated everything else to the needs of her husband, whom she quite literally worshipped."
I will cite a rather lengthy passage from A Common Life:
For Melville, the tensions between "the wife, the heart, the bed" and "the howling infinite" became acute after his move to Pittsfield. Now married three years and the father of a toddler son, living far inland and working under the strain of sizable debt to his father-in-law, he felt oppressed as never before by the heaviness of domestic life. [He] felt both isolated and cramped in the "daughterfull" house (his mother and four sisters had moved up from Manhattan and every two years another baby was born, for a total of four, two sons and two daughters, by 1855). Melville vented some of his frustration in a sketch published in 1856 called "I and My Chimney." The Hawthorne household at Lenox must have struck Melville as a blissfully safe harbor from the pressures he endured at Arrowhead: Here the male writer was the domestic god, the wife was the adoring high priestess of his cult, and the house was unencumbered by needy relatives and in-laws except for brief interludes (Laskin, 56-57).
Edwin Haviland Miller actually offers the time and place of Melville's sexual advances. Leon Howard believes the relationship to be Platonic while Raymond Weaver leans towards a homosexual reading. Lewis Mumford, whose biography I didn't read, but numerous sources referred to, is staunchly a homosexual proponent. I regret that I haven't read his work, even though I don't think I would agree with it at all. James Mellow points to the sexual implications of Melville's imagery, his "infinite height of loving wonder and admiration" and Hawthorne's "germinous seeds." Are these only literary seeds, or was Melville looking for something more (Mellow, 335)? Mellow tends to consider Melville to be homosexual in desire, but not to the point of acting on it; similarly Robert Martin sees Melville as a frustrated man who desires to be openly homosexual, but never is.
I find myself believing that their relationship was not at all homosexual. My reasoning is that if it were, there would be evidence instead of mere speculation. This is my fundamental objection with most of the arguments I came across in my research. Most who believe Melville was homosexual base their evidence on Melville's stories, and I have certainly written enough things that are not at all related to my life to see how easily misled a critic can be when he tries to apply an author's work to the author's life (Mark Vecchio still thinks I have a problem with drug addiction). On the other hand, I am not as certain that Melville didn't desire, or wouldn't have desired in a different social setting, a more romantic relationship.
That Melville alludes to homosexuality so much in Moby-Dick and other works can be taken either as expressive of his desires or as testimony that he was not repressed. Both lead to very different conclusions. The problem, as far as I see it, lies not in whether Melville was homosexual or not, but in what we define as homosexual or homoerotic tendencies. That is, any close relationship between two males is often considered homoerotic without considering the possibility of a platonic relationship. Laskin says that 150 years ago (and more importantly before Freud), Melville could write of Queequeg and Ishmael sharing a bed without being considered homosexual. He concludes that "at the time he met Hawthorne, Melville was perfectly aware of his longing for a bosom male friend and seemed to be utterly unembarrassed by it" (Laskin, 47).
I've read Melville's letters to Hawthorne. Julian Hawthorne, Nathaniel Hawthorne's son, implies that Hawthorne's letters were burned because Melville wanted to forget about Hawthorne. I'm not sure I believe this, though, especially since many of Melville's family papers were found as recently as 1983.
Melville is mentioned several times in Hawthorne's American Notebooks, on the following dates: Wed August 7, 1850; Tue September 1850; Wed September 4, 1850 (went to Melville's cousin's); Sat September 7, 1850; Fri August 1, 1851 (they met on the road and Julian rode on Melville's horse); Sat August 2, 1851; Fri August 8, 1851 (went to the Shaker establishment with Melville and the Duyckincks, Hawthorne says that night he would "rather have ridden the six miles to Pittsfield, than have gone to bed); and Sat August 9, 1851 (when Julian told him that he "loved Mr. Melville as well as me, and as mamma, and as Una"). Unless I really missed something, there is no mention of Melville for a whole year.
Maybe Hawthorne was trying to escape Melville. Given the time period, it seems pretty fishy that Melville's advances wouldn't be on Hawthorne's mind. The move could, however, be coincidental, given that Hawthorne never mentions Melville as a reason for the move.
Hawthorne wrote in a letter to Duyckinck about not liking the rural Berkshires in the summer "Was it a coincidence that four days [after reading Melville's reply to his letter about Moby-Dick], in a storm of snow and sleet, the Hawthorne family moved out of the red farmhouse, boarded the train in Pittsfield, and crossed the state of Massachusetts once more to set up a new household in West Newton? Had Hawthorne been planning the move or was he in fact fleeing Melville's heated importunities?" (Laskin, 76). Mumford, Weaver, and Morris think Melville was the cause of the move, but Hawthorne's letters and journals in fall 1851 mention "his eagerness to get away from the oppressive atmosphere of Lenox and the cramped little farmhouse, which he once called 'certainly the most inconvenient and wretched little hovel I ever put my head in.' He fumed in his notebook , 'I hate Berkshire with my whole soul, and would joyfully see its mountains laid flat'; he pined for a cottage near the sea; by the autumn, he and Sophia were bickering with their land-lord and -lady" (Laskin, 77).
Miller makes use of the same quotations and points out that Hawthorne longed for the city and iced-creams and hated the horrible climate of the Berkshires. Miller speculates that Nathaniel Hawthorne wanted to leave the Berkshires earlier but was reluctant to tell Sophia about his desire to move (Miller, 245). Miller also speculates that perhaps Hawthorne was attracted to Melville, and being uneasy about how to handle this, attempted to keep Melville at a distance. Miller does not say that this is why Hawthorne left the Berkshires though.
From reading Miller's biography, I began to get suspicious about the move. On September 23, Hawthorne writes "It does seem to me better to go, for we shall never be comfortable in Lenox again." What on earth is Hawthorne referring to here? Why won't he ever be comfortable in Lenox again? What has happened? I think it is unlikely that Melville made him uncomfortable, given that Hawthorne and Melville continued to exchange letters and visit for more than another month. Sophia as well seems to know something that we don't. She writes in a letter: "Did Mr. Hawthorne tell you all the reasons why we are disenchanted of Lenox?" I'm dying of curiosity here. After reading other sources, I still don't know what Sophia is referring to. The Hawthornes were possibly having some problems with their landlady, Mrs. Tappan. So in addition to health, restlessness, and economics, it seems there is another reason that remains a mystery. On October 2, Sophia writes that there are a "great many reasons [why they should leave] and the most important one is the effect of the climate upon Mr. Hawthorne" (Miller, 247).
Their relationship doesn't seem to come to a definite end, but there is a change in their attitudes. Hawthorne and Melville write with much less frequency and there is no more intensity in Melville's letters. The two met again in Concord. On November 9, 1856 the two met in Liverpool. They saw each other again in Europe the following year. "Melville's journal entry for May 4, 1857 reads simply: 'Saw Hawthorne.' Hawthorne himself let the encounter pass without comment" (Laskin, 91). Perhaps Hawthorne's job and literary good fortune excited the jealousy and ambition of Melville and his family. Laskin thinks eventually Melville's persistence drove Hawthorne away. Sophia had written in the spring of 1851 that Melville's demands were greater than Hawthorne's time allowed. Turner points to Melville's response that he would continue to visit until told that his visits were "supererogatory and superfluous" (Turner, 218).
In the two weeks before spring break, I started getting ILLs. I glanced through the shorter articles, but I really didn't get a chance to look at them until break. I started reading them immediately after getting out of class on the Friday before break. It's kind of difficult to read about Hawthorne and Melville while in Computer and Media Services, but somehow I managed. Then Erin, Adrienne, Angel, and I went to Pizza House for dinner. After that I stayed up all night reading, taking notes, and listening to Weird Al. That made for a very odd combination. By the third time I had heard the song "I'll be Mellow When I'm Dead," I had already mentally written complete lyrics for "I'll read Melville When Till I'm Dead." But maybe I'm just odd that way. I'll blame it on the extra garlic on the pizza.
The first book I read was a thesis, particularly appropriate since it was the day rough drafts of theses were due. The first thing I noticed about this book is that it had a really bad type job. I guess that's what happens in 1932, when not everyone has a networked printer in their homes. The first two chapters of the thesis were background on Hawthorne and Melville prior to their meeting. This was interesting, though not particularly relevant to my topic. Kinney mentions in his introduction a few books that he has relied heavily on, including Herman Melville: Mariner and Mystic by Raymond Weaver, Herman Melville by Lewis Humford, Herman Melville by John Freeman, Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife by Julian Hawthorne. Another almost reliable source referred to by a number of sources is J.E.A. Smith.
J.E.A. Smith relates that the two sensitive men were shy of each other until they were "thrown into company [during a thunderstorm when] found they held so much of thought, feeling, and opinion in common, that the most intimate friendship for the future was inevitable." (The source for this quote is Greylock, Taghconic: The Romance and Beauty of the Hills, Boston, 1879, 318.)
Kinney reiterates that Hawthorne was the one who initiated contact after their first meeting by inviting Melville to visit him. It is interesting that Melville declined the invitation. He probably visited later that week, as is evidenced by a letter to Duyckinck on August 16. After their first meeting Mrs. Hawthorne writes to her mother: "We find him very agreeable and entertaining A man with a true warm heart, and a soul and an intellect with life in his finger tips; earnest, sincere and reverent; very tender and modest. And I am sure he is not a very great man" (Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, "The Hawthornes in Lenox", the Century Magazine, XLIX, 91). As a mildly interesting cultural aside, it seems that all of Hawthorne's contemporaries wrote frequently to their mothers.
So did Hawthorne think of Melville as a close friend? Maybe not. He presented his House of Seven Gables to his closest friends: Pierce, Horatio Bridge, Emerson, W.E. Channing, Longfellow, Hilliard, Sumner, Holmes, Lowell, Thompson. For some reason Melville is not included. On the other hand, no one I read has pointed out that neither were Duyckinck or any of his other friends from the Berkshires.
Hawthorne's son Julian confirms that "It was with Herman Melville that Hawthorne held the most familiar intercourse at this time, both personally and by letter." I agree with this, though I find many of his statements to be wholly lacking in credibility (more on this later).
Melville writes to Duyckinck about Hawthorne. Again, he discusses alcohol and cigars, two symbols of their relationship. "After a long procrastination I went down to see Mr. Hawthorne a couple of weeks ago He was to have made me a day's visit and I had promised myself much pleasure in getting him up in my snug room here, and discussing the universe with a bottle of brandy and cigars." How suggestive. No wonder literary critics have tried to read so much into their relationship.
Kinney makes a case for their relationship being based on literary admiration. Melville himself said: "I regard Hawthorne (in his books) as evincing a quality of genius immensely loftier, and more profound, too, than any other American Writer has shown hither to in the printed form." But Melville is still a relentless suitor who won't give up. In July 1851, Melville writes Hawthorne: "I mean to continue visiting you until you tell me my visits are both supererogatory and superfluous."
The visits continue, but not nearly as frequently. Hawthorne and Melville met in Concord in 1852 and in March of 1853 at a consul in Liverpool. Around this time Hawthorne tried to get Melville a job (at the request of Allan Melville), but Hawthorne was unable to extend his political connections (with Franklin Pierce) to Melville.
Melville had admiration for Hawthorne's works. Hawthorne might have been influenced by Melville, but not in a literary way. No one had literary influence on Hawthorne. The two never wrote the Agatha story together. Raymond Weaver says the two men had a "profound incompatibility" from the beginning. Russel Blantership stresses that the level of intimacy they shared was rare for Hawthorne.
In summary, Hawthorne began the friendship, Melville admired Hawthorne's work, Hawthorne admired Melville as a man, and Hawthorne was not literarily influenced by Melville.
This second ILL that I consulted was completely useless. It had both Hawthorne and Melville in the title, so I thought it sounded good. I was wrong. I made it through reading the introduction and the beginning of the first chapter. Cagidemetrio in comparing their works had used the word "phantasmagoria" at least fifty times by then, including giving almost a dozen definitions. Despite reading it, I still can't explain what phantasmagoria is. The book was truly an inspiration for literary jargon and extolled the virtues of using longer words to present far-fetched points.
Mark Van Doren discusses Melville's review of Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables, the review which occurs in the letter with the line "He says NO! in thunder." Van Doren sees the letter as not being about the book, but as being about the author. Van Doren also says that Melville wrote "Hawthorne and His Mosses" before meeting Hawthorne, this older man he was to love so much and praises so tumultuously" (178). Van Doren sees Melville as an over-aggressive suitor, saying "Hawthorne could scarcely have responded in kind to the all but frenzied addresses of this young genius who thought he had found in him at last the companion his soul desired" (181).
This was the second thesis I read, contributing to my idea that theses were my most useful sources, probably because their authors were compelled to present evidence and citation in a way that biographers were not. I read this thesis on the first Saturday of April break (unfortunately the day after ILL requests were due so I couldn't track down many of the sources this thesis referred me to). I was so engrossed in the thesis and the time period, that I was startled when my phone rang. When someone asked me for a ride to Price Chopper, there was a split-second when I thought about getting on my horse to meet Melville at the supermarket. Fortunately, that image soon faded, giving me little time to question my sanity. I finished reading the thesis in my car outside Price Chopper. This gave me quite a bit of material to work with and pointed me in the direction of a number of other leads. Contradicting Van Doren, Harrison Hayford believes that Hawthorne enjoyed Melville's company much more than others had believed.
Hayford questions Julian Hawthorne's reliability. After reading a few sources which seemed to find Julian Hawthorne and J.E.A. Smith to be unfortunate purporters of half-truths and faulty memories, I attempted to track them down some of their books for myself. I was able to find the Hawthorne but not the Smith. I have adopted this prevalent opinion that Julian Hawthorne and J.E.A. Smith are unreliable. Hayford says that the meetings between Hawthorne and Melville were less frequent than Julian Hawthorne supposed.
Hayford claims that Melville wrote "Hawthorne and His Mosses" after meeting Hawthorne, and that it was their relationship that caused Melville to revise Moby-Dick. Melville had said he was almost done with the novel at about the same time as he met Hawthorne, but he ended up working on it for another year. So it seems possible that Hawthorne's influence was a literary one. Hawthorne was also affected, at least at first, by their meeting, as after it he wrote to Bridge that he liked Melville so much he had invited Melville to spend a few days with him. The following April he wrote to George William Curtis that "Herman Melville (whom you praise in your book) lives about six miles off, and is an admirable fellow, and has some excellent old port and sherry wine" (Hayford, 216). In 1856 in his Liverpool Journal, Hawthorne says that Melville "has a very high and noble nature and better worth immortality than most of us."
Hayford points out one possible tension in their relationship, that both men could envy the other's success. Hawthorne had the better family and financial life, but Melville was publishing more and at a younger age than Hawthorne.
He describes their excursion on Monument Mountain, quoting Mathews: "rambling, scrambling, climbing, rhyming." On the mountain, Hawthorne and Duyckinck were discussing The Scarlet Letter when a thundershower caused them to seek shelter in a cave. (This shower, unlike some of the stories about this day, is almost certainly accurate as it is mentioned by Dr. Mathews and Hawthorne later that week; it was not mentioned by Fields and Sedgwick in their accounts, which were not written until years later.) It is unlikely that Smith's story of Melville and Hawthorne being alone together for two hours is true, since Duyckinck, Mathews, and Fields, all of whom were actually at the picnic, make it clear that Hawthorne and Melville never separated from the rest of the group. Smith is unreliable.
The first half of "Hawthorne and His Mosses" was published in Literary World on August 15th. How did Melville get a copy of Mosses from an Old Manse? He says he read Mosses at the suggestion of a mountain girl. I wonder if this is an allusion to Monument Mountain. Most likely, he got the book from his Aunt Mary on July 18th. In Pierre, Book XXI Melville writes: "A man will be given a book and when the donor's back is turned, will carelessly drop it in the first corner But now personally point out to him the author, and ten to one he goes back to the corner." This seems to me relevant, though I am not convinced, as many scholars are, that this is a direct reference to Hawthorne. It does seem likely though that Melville owned some of Hawthorne's works before meeting him, but that he didn't read them until after their Monument Mountain excursion. Hawthorne read Melville's works as well. Both Hawthornes wrote to Duyckinck thanking him for Melville's books. Mrs. Hawthorne also wrote to her mom about Melville's Mosses review and that Melville suggested that Mathews had written it. Did Hawthorne ever learn that Melville had written it? The only evidence of a confession was more than a year later, after the publication of Moby-Dick, when Melville wrote "I am heartily sorry I ever wrote anything about it it was paltry" in a letter dated November 17, 1851, but it is uncertain if he is even referring to this review.
Hayford makes a good point about Melville's admiration for Hawthorne. "Everything we admire is likely to be both what we half create and what we perceive; and the important thing is that Melville was moved and influenced by Hawthorne, whether by what he saw or what he thought he saw" (Hayford, 195).
Hayford pinpoints Hawthorne and Melville's meetings, something that I have been very eager to do. Hayford is certain of nine meetings, with the possibility of two others between August 5, 1850 and November 21, 1851. These meeting dates are: August 5, 1850; August 8; August 17 (doubtful); September 3-7; November 7 (possible); January 22, 1851; March 12-15; April 11; and August 1. Other sources refer to a few other meetings, including ones in November of 1851. Julian Hawthorne, accurate and unbiased source that he is, thinks there were a lot more visits. He's wrong. If anything, their visits were infrequent, as is indicated by the excuses in their letters for not visiting. On January 26, Mrs. Hawthorne wrote Melville and then Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote him again on February 3. Finally, the two men met on March 12. The two men discussed numerous visits and even a trip to New York, but none of these ever materialized.
In The Hawthorne Melville Friendship, Hastings writes that the spring and summer "was the period of closest intimacy. Through many spring evenings Melville and his dog called." Julian Hawthorne is the one who refers to Melville's dog. Julian remembers a large Newfoundland dog, whose back he rides on once. But Melville never mentions this dog, so it doesn't seem likely that Melville had a dog. One of Hawthorne's other friends had a Newfoundland dog and Melville did let Julian ride on his horse. Thus, I am entirely convinced that Julian, who would have been only four and five years old when Melville frequented the Hawthorne's home, is an entirely unreliable source who made up stories where his memory failed. At this point in the reading, I started getting really annoyed with Julian, and considered asking him to step outside so I could slap him a few times. Instead, of course, I tracked down his biographies so I could get even more annoyed.
Melville's last letters in 1852 are addressed to all of the Hawthornes and Melville received responses from both Sophia and Julian. Julian, according to Nathaniel Hawthorne, loved Melville. This is why it seems so strange to me that Julian would turn on Melville in biography, ultimately portraying him as insane. Julian also probably inaccurately portrays Hawthorne's lack of interest in the Agatha story, presenting a Melville who all but plagues Hawthorne with his incessant letters.
In 1883 and 1884, in preparation for writing his biographies, Julian Hawthorne visited Melville. Melville "was convinced that Hawthorne had all his life concealed some great secret." Perhaps it was to this that Julian took offense, since he heavily disputes that Hawthorne had any dark secrets to conceal. Again, Julian tries to put words into Melville's mouth, thoughts into his head: "He said with a melancholy gesture, that [Hawthorne's letters] had all been destroyed long since, as if implying that the less said or preserved, the better!" Where is Julian getting this implication from? Why does Julian manipulate meanings so much? Doesn't he have any integrity to present the truth?
After reading this thesis, there were a number of books I wanted to get; among them were Wallace M. Christy's 1971 Brown dissertation The Shock of Recognition: A Psycho-Literary Study of Hawthorne's Influence on Melville's Short Fiction, Randall Stewart's "Melville and Hawthorne" in the July 1952 edition of the South Atlantic Quarterly, Weaver's biography, J.E.A. Smith's Taghconic, or Letters and Legends and Taghconic: the Romance and Beauty of the Hills, and Julian Hawthorne's Memoirs, Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife, and When Herman Melville was Mr. Omoo. Of these, I was regretfully only able to track down the works by Julian Hawthorne.
James Wilson claims that Hawthorne knew Melville had written "Hawthorne and His Mosses" by September or October. He speculates that Melville confessed his authorship while visiting in early September (3). Wilson does not believe there was an estrangement between the two men in 1851 since they corresponded after Hawthorne moved from the Berkshires.
The neat thing about this book was that it had an annotated bibliography. In some ways I am trying to provide an even more detailed bibliography about the works that I have read. I will related briefly some of the sources Wilson refers to that I found particularly interesting. This bibliography was extremely helpful because it gave me a feel for the opinions of many scholars.
Richard Birdsall in his Berkshire County: A Cultural History sees the relationship between Hawthorne and Melville as not a courtship, but as a two-sided "meeting of minds."
James Mellow, whose Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times I have already considered, sees their relationship as a literary courtship with Melville as a aggressive suitor and. Mellow reads sexual implications into "Hawthorne and His Mosses." Mumford sees Melville's love for Hawthorne as being unrequited.
Arlin Turner, in his Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography, which I have also already read, approaches the relationship from a different angle, pointing out how antisocial Hawthorne was by nature. Hawthorne spent more time with Melville than with any of his other neighbors in the Berkshires and the two men could be very casual with each other. He maintains that Hawthorne responded to Melville with "intensity rare in his life."
Richard Chase, author of Herman Melville: A Critical Study, takes a more radical approach to Melville and undertakes a Freudian interpretation. Given that Hawthorne and Melville both lost their fathers early in life and that there was a significant age difference between Hawthorne and Melville, I find it surprising that I have not come across many Freudian interpretations of Melville. Of course, this may be explained in part by the fact that I have been working mainly with older texts. I attempted to get this book but was unable to do so. Chase says an estrangement occurred between Hawthorne and Melville because Hawthorne was uncomfortable with the burdensome psychic demands that Melville placed on him.
In Wallace M. Christy's The Shock of Recognition: A Psycho-Literary Study of Hawthorne's Influence on Melville's Short Fiction, a thesis that I was already interested in obtaining, Christy discusses Melville's psychic problems, including his anxiety, Oedipal complex (as discussed by Chase), disillusionment with his marriage (Melville envied Hawthorne's married life and paints bleak pictures of married life in literature; critics commonly refer to his attitudes in "I and My Chimney."), and his homosexual urges.
I came across many references to Carol Marie Bensick's "The Shared Flagon: Hawthorne and Melville and the Friendship that Failed," but was unable to find it anywhere. I was intrigued by the title of this article, since from what I have read, I do not get the impression that their friendship was a failure. Bensick sees both men as confused and frightened. Unlike other scholars, she thinks Hawthorne was interested in Melville, and this is why he worked so hard to put distance between them.
Seymour L. Gross, in his Hawthorne Vs. Melville, claims that Melville read Mosses of an Old Manse on the day he met Hawthorne and then wrote the review.
Edward G. Lueders discusses Hawthorne and Melville by using The Blithedale Romance and Pierre as guides. The idea of learning about an author through his fiction is one that I find especially intriguing, though not necessarily reliable.
James C. Wilson in his "Melville at Arrowhead: A Reevaluation of Melville's Relations with Hawthorne and with His Family" refers to some incidents that I hadn't previously come across. This is probably because, unfortunately, most of my sources were published much earlier this century. Wilson points out that Melville's mother was on familiar terms with Hawthorne, raising the question of how often the Hawthornes and Melvilles met. It is possible that they came across each other a lot at various social gatherings in the Berkshires. There are several references to Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne is Mrs. Melville's letters.
Melville's mom describes Hawthorne and Melville meeting at Sedgwick's on November 5, 1851, after the supposed "estrangement." So, it seems there was no estrangement. It's funny what a difference fifty years make in the research process. In 1983 a trunk containing Melville's family papers was found and moved to the New York Public Library. This was something that, despite all of the research I had done, I hadn't known. I regret that I didn't have more sources that were published after 1983. Among other finds was one letter from Hawthorne to Melville, dated March 27, 1851. I briefly considered going to the NYPL to see them, but then I decided that even I am not that insane. In addition to ending the estrangement theory, it seems that the family papers argue strongly against the psychosexual interpretations of Melville and his relationship with Hawthorne (Wilson, 203-205).
Wilson also includes the text of Melville's "Hawthorne and His Mosses." Melville says that he never saw Hawthorne. Wilson's footnote is that Melville had, in fact, seen Hawthorne: "According to the latest evidence, Melville began his 'Mosses' essay on August 9, four days after meeting Hawthorne." Other sources had taken Melville's statement on faith. I do not understand why since Melville seems to have created a fictional character to write the review. In another passage Melville refers to a mountain girl. None of the commentary I read made anything of this, but I wonder if this is an obscure reference to their meeting on Monument Mountain. Then again, if no one else picked up on this, probably not.
Melville also writes that he "cannot leave [his] subject yet. No man can read a fine author, and relish him to his very bones, while he reads, without subsequently fancying to himself some ideal image of the man and his mind." Is this what Melville has done? Has Melville created some idealized portrait of Hawthorne, based not on the man himself but his literature? It seems likely.
He takes a break from writing his review and then writes that in the twenty-four hours since writing the first part he is charged more and more with love and admiration of Hawthorne." Is it possible that he started writing his review before meeting Hawthorne and this is when the two met? Just a thought, which I unfortunately have no evidence to support.
I also read two shorter articles. The first of these was about the possible estrangement. Charles Watson says that the estrangement referred to in "Monody" could not have been only physical because the men kept in touch after 1851. Watson then thinks that "the strain on their friendship was psychological. There seems to have been no open break, no demonstrable act of hostility, certainly no dramatic face-to-face confrontation nothing, in short, for which Melville now wished to blame either Hawthorne or himself. Nevertheless, after an initial period of enthusiasm, their relations appear to have partially cooled" (380).
Henry A. Murray and Edward G. Lueders say Plinlimmon in Pierre is Melville's unflattering portrait of Hawthorne, written after the estrangement of the two men. Similarly, Hawthorne expresses his reservations about Melville in the character of Hollingsworth. Watson points out that Melville's early works were propagandistic (about Negro slavery, Liverpool slums, and naval discipline among other topics). "Melville may well have appeared to Hawthorne as a crusader for causes" (385). And Hawthorne seems to adopt a transcendentalist attitude to such philanthropists in his treatment of Hollingsworth in The Blithedale Romance. Having read the novel, I am not at all convinced that there are sufficient similarities between Melville and Hollingsworth.
As to the cause of their estrangement, Watson points to Melville's last letters.
Can it be, then, as Edward G. Lueders has suggested, that the passionate urgency of this letter repelled Hawthorne sufficiently to precipitate the estrangement between them? If Hawthorne had thus far succeeded in hiding his reservations about this young enthusiast, surely his reaction to such overtures would have been one of discomfort bordering on dismay. In any event, he seems to have taken refuge in a seven-month silence a silence that could have struck Melville as a deliberate rebuff (388).
He speculates that Hawthorne, as a reserved man who liked and admired Melville, felt guilty about his inability to respond with full sympathy to Melville. "But there is something in his nature some uncurable reserve, some dread of intimacy, some uneasiness about the ardent enthusiasm of the other which holds him back at a crucial moment" (389). And this, says Watson, is what causes the estrangement between Hawthorne and Melville. This is more or less what happened between Hollingsworth and Coverdale; Coverdale stands aloof and is unable to respond to Hollingsworth's invitation to join him as a partner.
Watson also refers to the passage from Pierre that I cited previously, saying that "although he had read some of Hawthorne's tales as early as 1849, it was not until the two became neighbors in the summer of 1850 that he turned to them with full appreciation" (395). Watson says that Melville wrote "Hawthorne and His Mosses" then after meeting Hawthorne.
Watson points out homoeroticism and feminine elements in Melville's work, including the encounter between Clarel and Vine and Urania in "After the Pleasure Party," which Watson claims is Melville brooding over his recent visit with Hawthorne in 1857 (400).
As to why Hawthorne tried to distance himself from Hawthorne, Watson says he has a double motive:
At the same time that he was temperamentally adverse to his friend's agonized quest for religious certitude, he became increasingly aware that Melville had an equal need for an extraordinary degree of personal intimacy. While the yearnings of the spirit could be tolerated, any suggestion that those yearning were also of the flesh however latently would surely have been sufficient to alarm Hawthorne to the point of flight. Sensing his friend's uneasiness, Melville might eventually have come to understand it and perhaps also to understand himself (402).
Mansfield refers to Melville's statement in "Hawthorne and His Mosses" that he never met Hawthorne and thinks then that the review had to have been written shortly before he met Hawthorne on August 5th. Again, I am not sure why Melville is taken here to be a credible source.
Evert A. Duyckinck sounds like a neat guy. He wrote incredibly detailed letters to his wife, including an often-quoted description of the trip to Monument Mountain. He also exchanged letters with both Hawthorne and Melville, often mentioning the other of the two. Duyckinck was responsible for forwarding copies of all of Melville's books to Hawthorne. Sophia Hawthorne mentioned their interest in obtaining Melville's books and described her husband reading them all eagerly. She also mentioned in her letter of August 29, 1850 her interest in the author of "Hawthorne and His Mosses." She seems to have made no connection between the two.
Mansfield thinks that Hawthorne eventually found out that Melville was the author of the review because he says "the friendship between the two authors must have been further strengthened" when Melville's authorship was revealed. He also speculates that numerous visits were exchanged during the winter months. I have no idea where he is getting this from as I have seen no evidence of this and Melville mentions not seeing Hawthorne.
After reading my ILLs, I went to a number of other libraries. While visiting Katherine at Bard, I went to the library there (which is a horrible radiator-colored yellow) and looked at books. I also went to the Library of Congress on April 7th to get other books that my ILLs had referred me to. The Library of Congress is, as Randy would say, pretty swanky. You get a library card, walk through some deserted corridors, and end up using a really crappy card catalog database to find books. Then you fill out slips for them and wait around for someone to find them. The main reading room is a gorgeous octagonal room with arches held up by Corinthian columns. The walls are marbleized and there is a dome with representations of different countries in the center of the ceiling. It puts the Simon's Rock library to shame of course.
This book provided what is for me the most satisfactory answer to the question of when "Hawthorne and His Mosses" was written. It speculates that though it is unlikely that Melville read Hawthorne's book and wrote his review in the busy week after he met Hawthorne, "it is even more unlikely that a previously planned and partially or wholly written essay would not be significantly revised after the personal encounter with Hawthorne" (13). This seems especially accurate to me since I believe Melville revised Moby-Dick in part because of Hawthorne's influence, and certainly Hawthorne's influence is less relevant here than in the case of "Hawthorne and His Mosses."
In the Library of Congress I was able to track down a number of books by Julian Hawthorne. Julian says that "Herman Melville ("Omoo," as they called him, in allusion to one of his early romances) soon became familiar and welcome there" (377). Julian has memories of more visits than I think actually occurred. He recalls one time when Melville was at the house and a lady from New York visited, but there is no reference to this anywhere else that I have found. So again I think that Julian has a faulty memory and is confusing events. This is also the biography in which Julian says the one thing with which I agree: "But it was with Herman Melville that he held the most familiar intercourse at this time, both personally and by letter" (399). Hawthorne was rather anti-social while living in the Berkshires. The only regular (though perhaps not frequent) visitor to the Hawthorne house was Melville. Julian refer to Melville's story-telling abilities and the realistic stories that he told when visiting their house. In one story it was so realistic that Sophia was actually looking for a missing club in her house. Julian takes a slight jab at Melville (something he is fond of doing for some reason) by saying that he "was probably quite entertaining and somewhat less abstruse, when his communications were by word of mouth" (407) than in his frequent letters.
Julian says they wrote frequently though elsewhere he implies that Hawthorne might not have ever written Melville, saying "his answers, if he wrote any." Where is Julian getting this from? Melville mentions letters from Hawthorne and a letter from Hawthorne might have been found (I'm uncertain about the validity here actually). Julian doesn't know what he is talking about, and yet he feels the need to talk anyway. He propagates half-truths that others unsuspectingly believe. That's why he pisses me off so much. But I learned the important lesson from him that biographies aren't necessarily true and that I can't believe everything I read. Doing this inquiry log, I became increasingly skeptical of my sources, to the extent that I finally had trouble believing anything unless there was adequate justification from primary sources.
I was able to locate the passage in which Julian refers to Melville's dog: "We did not keep a dog, but Herman Melville, who often came over from Pittsfield, had a large Newfoundland which he sometimes brought with him" (32). As I have mentioned earlier, it doesn't seem likely that Melville had a dog at all. Melville had a horse that he allowed Julian to ride on and another of Hawthorne's friends had a Newfoundland dog.
Julian remembers Melville as a storyteller who often spoke about the South Seas. He says that there was a "vivid genius in this man, and he was the strangest being that ever came into our circle" and also that "there is reason to suspect that there was in him a vein of insanity" (33). Why is Julian saying this? Why does he want to present a picture of Melville as insane? Why is he doing his best to bash Melville's character?
When Julian Hawthorne and Melville met in New York in 1884, Melville said that "he conceived the highest admiration for [Julian's] father's genius, and a deep affection for him personally." He also told Julian that he was convinced "there was some secret in [his] father's life which had never been revealed." Julian denies that there was any darkness or secret in Hawthorne's life. Julian also says that Hawthorne considered there to be "few honester or more lovable men that Herman Melville." Julian gives the weather and his father's health as the reasons why his family left the Berkshires.
I also went to the Melville Reading Room in the Pittsfield Library the week after break because I had jury duty in the court next to the library. After waiting around all morning with my fellow jurors, I got a two hour lunch break. The Melville reading room is really neat. It has a bunch of books, more whale teeth than any whale dentist has ever seen, and some of Melville's personal belongings including his writing desk. (How is a whale like a writing desk?)
This book turned out to be one of my most interesting sources. Like the Wilson book it was published more recently and discusses meetings between Hawthorne and Melville in November of 1851. Both refer to the same meetings, so I think they are credible, but it is also curious that none of the earlier sources refer to these meetings (though this is probably due to the finding of Melville's family papers in 1983). I also think Hershel Parker sacrifices his biographical integrity by ending his book with a charming and fabricated story.
Parker pinpoints the dates that Melville wrote "Hawthorne and His Mosses" as August 8th and 9th, after meeting Hawthorne (763). Parker doesn't see an estrangement before Hawthorne leaves the Berkshires; in fact he declares the end of their relationship a triumph. Sedgwick throws what was essentially a goodbye party for Hawthorne on November 4. There is speculation that Melville didn't know Hawthorne was going to be leaving until he was at the party so he might not have been in good spirits (874). This is just one example of Parker speculating without offering any evidence to back up his opinions.
A day or two later Hawthorne received his first copies of A Wonder-Book, a book which mentions Melville writing about whales. Hawthorne sent one of these first copies to Malcolm Melville (not to Herman Melville directly). Parker points out that Herman Melville should have received a few copies of his own book, Moby-Dick, before the publication date of November 14. He speculates that Melville must have given Hawthorne a copy since Hawthorne had read it and written to Melville by November 15 or 16. This seems likely, especially since Melville dedicated the book to Hawthorne so he probably would have presented him with a copy of it. I was wondering though if Melville could have presented Hawthorne a copy of his book earlier, when it was released in mid-October in England as The Whale. If this is the case, Hawthorne could easily have read it and commented by now and this would not give evidence that Hawthorne and Melville had contact after the date of the alleged estrangement.
Parker says that Hawthorne and Melville agreed to meet as soon as Melville published Moby-Dick. He says that Melville drove to Hawthorne's to invite him to a formal farewell dinner and/or publishing celebration at Curtis's hotel in Lenox. I don't know where he got this from since he quotes no sources nor have any other sources referred to this meeting. He also says that Lenoxites were curious about the two local recluses in the hotel. This seems to me to be pure fabrication on the part of Parker in order to present a more dramatic story. (Okay, so ten out of ten for style, but minus several million for credibility.)
He concludes this volume of his biography with a description of their meeting. Where is he getting this from? He's clearly just making up details and is not at all reliable. "The men lingered at the table, drinking, soothed into ineffable socialites, obscured at times from their view by their tobacco smoke. They lingered long after the dining room had emptied, each reverential toward the other's genius. [It must have been] the happiest day of Melville's life" (882-883).
Browsing through the other books in the reading room I also came across the following sources: The Melville Family Papers and Letters, prepared by Emilie S. Piper and Ruth T. Degenhardt, April 28, 1995 which wasn't as interesting as I had expected, William B. Dillingham's Melville and His Circle, which curiously has no reference to Hawthorne, and Jay Leyda's first volume of The Melville Log (New York, NY.: Gordonian Press, 1969), which gives August 11th as the date that Melville wrote "Hawthorne and His Mosses." Like other books published before the discovery of the Melville family papers, there is no mention of either the November 4th party of the November 15th meeting. Leyda does, however, refer to a letter written on December 1st from Hawthorne to Duyckinck. In this letter he writes: "It was one of my regrets in leaving Lenox, that I should no longer be benefited by your visits to our friend Melville. What a great book Melville has written! It gives me an idea of much greater power than his proceeding ones." So if this is what Hawthorne says, I'm pretty convinced that Melville was not the reason why Hawthorne left the Berkshires. Otherwise, why would he be saying this? Reading this I felt satisfied that another one of my questions had been answered.
Throughout the course of my research I was able to resolve a number of my questions. After answering these questions, I felt more or less satisfied enough with the research material I had gathered to stop researching and start compiling my notes into some useful format. It took me several weeks to get past the initial phases of starting to write my inquiry log.
Writing this inquiry log, I wanted so much to reorganize my notes. Instead of presenting material by book read, I wanted to organize it by subject topic. This, I felt, would be more beneficial in a number of ways. One of the important things about my research is the interplay between researchers, about how their hypotheses are contradictory. This becomes much clearer when the information is presented by category, as opposed to source. I presented my preliminary research in this way because I didn't think it would be too overwhelming and I thought it would serve as a neater beginning. In writing this, I started out with some 80 pages or so of notes, far too much material. I tried to narrow this down, sticking to my main questions and paraphrasing longer quotes. Through the writing, I managed to refrain from entering all of my research into a database so I could easily sort it by text or by subject. This lasted until about page 17. I tried to go through my notes and write what essentially amounts to response journals on all of the texts.
I had been jokingly thinking of putting all of my notes in a database. The reason I was only joking was because it seemed silly. Why would I put my notes for a paper which I had in a nice word processor document into a database? How would that help me write a paper? Well, it doesn't really, and yet it does. I feel that my database is more useful than my notes. While a regular text document is flat, a database is two dimensional, allowing me to read my notes by either source or by topic. For my inquiry log, I felt I needed to present everything by source since that is obviously the way I conducted my research. But after I had all of my research, I read through my notes several times trying to mentally read by category. Who was it who said Hawthorne liked Melville so that's why he had to move from the Berkshires? How many people think Melville wrote "Hawthorne and His Mosses" before meeting Hawthorne? These were the questions I wanted to answer. I started my inquiry with a number of questions. "Hawthorne and Melville in the Berkshires" was my topic, but it was only the backdrop for my questions.
Trying to turn my notes into a paper, I kept getting the urge to move my notes around so I could present my paper by topic. And at the same time I didn't think this was what the assignment really called for. Finally, with four sources left to go on an extremely rough draft and a whole reading period to waste, I decided it was time to try a database. I never really used FileMaker Pro before, but I wasn't doing anything complicated with it so I figured I would learn as I went along. The hardest part really was coming up with categories. I started with a few and added more as I went through my notes. In FileMaker you define fields, set up the layout, and then start entering records (in this case sources). And when you are done, you can specify a few settings to use its default web publishing interface (which isn't too spectacular, but I'm not obsessed enough to change that until exams are over). Pretty easy stuff.
My data fields are split into four categories for ease of use (theoretically I could turn these into separate related databases). In the first category I have Source which indexes my entries and provides bibliographic information. My database entries very nearly correspond to the order in which I consulted that source. In some instances my knowledge of a source comes only from another source, in which I case I have noted that in this field. I have tried to use correct works cited form for this field. The second field, Summary, outlines some of the key points found in this Source. The third field, Response, contains my brief responses to each source. For sources that I found especially useful, I have started eleven of my responses with "(good)" for use in searches. All three of these fields are required; that is, every entry in my database contains data in these three fields.
The second category contains those fields on which I was especially interested in performing searches. The first of these fields is Unrequited, meaning was Melville's love for Hawthorne unrequited? Here, I have started each entry with either "Yes." or "No." and then provided explanation. This enabled me to search for these keywords. Nine of my sources explicitly cited arguments in this field. The next field is NonPlatonic. In this field I entered all information related to determining whether the relationship between Hawthorne and Melville was Platonic or not. I also included any references to Freud or homosexuality here. This field contains information from thirteen of my sources. Again, I have started my entries with "Yes." or "No." with the exception of Mellow, who seemed at least from my notes to be undecided. The next field, Hawthorne's move, attempts to answer the question of why Hawthorne moved suddenly from the Berkshires in November of 1851. For the ten sources (two of them are Julian Hawthorne) with pertinent information, I have included Melville's name only when Melville was given as a reason for Hawthorne's move, enabling me to search this field easily as well. The last field in this category, Estranged, refers to the possibility of an estrangement between Hawthorne and Melville at the end of their relationship. All seven entries begin with "Yes." or "No."
The third category is about Hawthorne and Melville's meetings. The Monument Mt. field contains information from four sources about their first encounter. Correspondence only has three entries, but one of them lists the most likely dates of Melville's letters to Hawthorne, so I wanted to include this. The Meetings field contains information about visits between Hawthorne and Melville from twelve of the sources. This is only particularly useful in the case of Harrison Hayford's book. The twelve sources represented in this last field, Melville's Mosses, attempt to answer two questions: Did Melville write his review "Hawthorne and His Mosses" before or after he met Hawthorne? and Did Hawthorne know Melville wrote this review? Keywords in these fields are "after", "before", "yes", and "no".
The last category contains other information. Four sources provide some characterization of Hawthorne and six some characterization of Melville that I have chosen to include. Ten discuss Hawthorne's opinion of Melville and seven Melville's opinion of Hawthorne. I also came across some information in four sources about Hawthorne and Melville's families, which I have included in a field called Families. I think these fields cover most of my research notes.
My database is (usually) accessible from my webpage. There is a link from http://siren.simons-rock.edu/~sara/personal/classes.html. From this link, click to enter HawMel-db. It takes a while for all of the data to load. Once it does, it is presented in a table. You can change the view by clicking "Form View" at the top. You can perform searches by clicking "Search" at the top, entering in your search criteria, and clicking the "Search" button on the left.
Having all of my notes in a database provided me with more than the endless ridicule of technophobes. Because of the way I had set up the categories, I was able to sort and search my notes with ease. What follows are my results.
YES: 3. Lewis Mumford; Mark Van Doren; Julian Hawthorne.
NO: 6. David Laskin; Edwin Haviland Miller; Arlin Turner; James R. Mellow; Frances Ware Kinney; Harrison Hayford.
YES: 7. Edwin Haviland Miller; Lewis Mumford; Robert Martin; Richard Chase; Wallace M. Christy; Carol Marie Bensick; Charles N. Watson.
NO: 5. David Laskin; Leon Howard; Frances Ware Kinney; Richard D. Birdsall; James C. Wilson.
YES: 6. Edwin Haviland Miller; Lewis Mumford; Arlin Turner; Raymond Weaver; Carol Marie Bensick; Charles Watson.
NO: 3. David Laskin; Julian Hawthorne; Jay Leyda.
YES: 2. Richard Chase; Charles N. Watson.
NO: 5. David Laskin; James C. Wilson; Charles N. Watson; Hersel Parker; Jay Leyda.
YES: 3. Mark Van Doren; Luther Stearns Mansfield; Hershel Parker.
NO: 7. Edwin Haviland Miller; Harrison Hayford; Seymour L. Gross; Charles N. Watson; Melville and Hawthorne in the Berkshires; Hershel Parker; Jay Leyda.
YES: 3. David Laskin; Arlin Turner; James C. Wilson.
I think that although Melville was more attached to Hawthorne, Hawthorne did return friendship to Melville. Hawthorne was by nature more solitary, reserved, and unemotional. If Hawthorne did not want Melville around, he would have said something. Hawthorne was probably slightly taken aback by Melville's more emotional and sexual letters.
Despite a majority of my sources classifying the relationship of Hawthorne and Melville as more than Platonic, I think their relationship was a Platonic literary relationship. There is only speculation (that is, no evidence) that either desired more.
Again, I disagree with the majority of the sources that said Melville was part of the reason that Hawthorne left the Berkshires. While he might have been a rather small part of the reason, what Hawthorne mentions is being tired of the climate. Sophia makes curious references to another reason which some speculate is their landlords while others conclude it is Melville. Leyda quotes a letter from Hawthorne about how he misses the company of Melville after his move.
There was no real estrangement between Hawthorne and Melville. The two were moving physically and literarily in different directions. The estrangement theory is pretty dead now, especially since Hawthorne and Melville met after the date of the supposed estrangement.
By majority vote, Melville wrote "Hawthorne and His Mosses" after meeting Hawthorne. It seems unlikely due to time constraints that he wrote it entirely after meeting Hawthorne, but I find it unlikely that he wouldn't have revised it after meeting Hawthorne, especially given the literary impact that Hawthorne had on his work. I am not very much concerned with whether Hawthorne knew Melville wrote the review, since there is little evidence and only speculation.
I enjoyed reading these sources and got perhaps a bit too carried away. I found the database to be helpful in organizing ideas. Julian Hawthorne and J.E.A. Smith really annoy me because I don't think they know what they are talking about. I would like to know more about the final meetings between Hawthorne and Melville discussed only by Parker and Wilson, who are two of my most recent (by publication date) sources.
It's been fun. Mostly. Sort of. It was kind of scary there for awhile when I was doing nothing but living, breathing, and eating errr... reading Hawthorne and Melville. I don't survive research projects without going crazy. But that's the fun of it.
To have known him, to have loved him
After loneness long;
And then to be estranged in life,
And neither in the wrong;
And now for death to set his seal—
Ease me, a little ease, my song!
By wintry hills his hermit-mound
The sheeted snow-drifts drape,
And houseless there the snow-bird flits
Beneath the fir-trees’ crape:
Glazed now with ice the cloistral vine
That hid the shyest grape.
Bensick, Carol Marie. "The Shared Flagon: Hawthorne and Melville and the Friendship that Failed." The Hawthorne Society Newsletter. 4, i, 1978, 7-8.
Birdsall, Richard D. Berkshire County: A Cultural History. Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press, 1978. referred to from Wilson.
Chase, Richard. Herman Melville: A Critical Study. New York, NY.: Macmillan, 1949.
Christy, Wallace M. The Shock of Recognition: A Psycho-Literary Study of Hawthorne's Influence on Melville's Short Fiction. Providence, RI.: Brown University Press, 1971. referred to by Wilson and Hayford.
Gross, Seymour L. Hawthorne Vs. Melville. referred to by Wilson.
Hastings. referred to from Hayford.
Hawthorne, Julian. Hawthorne and His Circle. New York: NY., Archon Books, 1968 (first pub 1903).
-----. Memoirs of Julian Hawthorne. New York, NY.: Macmillan Co., 1938.
-----. Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife, Volume I, Second Edition. Grosse Point, MI.: Scholarly Press, 1968 (orig 1884).
Hayford, Harrison. Melville and Hawthorne: A Biographical and Critical Study. New Haven, CT.: Yale University Press, 1945.
Howard, Leon. Herman Melville: A Biography. Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press, 1967. referred to by Laskin.
Kinney, Frances Ware. The Personal and Literary Relations of Melville and Hawthorne. Louisville, KT.: University of Kentucky Press, 1932.
Laskin, David. A Common Life: Four Generations of American Literary Friendship and Influence. Hanover, NH.: University Press of New England, 1994.
Leyda, Jay. The Melville Log, Volume I. New York, NY.: Gordonian Press, 1969.
Mansfield, Luther Stearns. "Glimpses of Herman Melville's Life in Pittsfield, 1850-1851 Some Unpublished Letters of Evert A. Duyckinck." Melville and Hawthorne in the Berkshires. Howard P. Vincent, Ed. Kent, OH.: Kent State University Press, 1968. pp. 4-21.
Martin, Robert. referred to by Laskin.
Mellow, James R. Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times. Boston, MA.: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969.
"Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne." http://www.melville.org/hawthrne.htm.
Melville-Hawthorne Conference (1966). Melville and Hawthorne in the Berkshires, a Symposium. Kent, OH.: Kent State University Press, 1966.
"Melville's Letters to Hawthorne." http://www.melville.org/corresp.htm.
Miller, Edwin Haviland. Melville: A Biography. New York, NY.: George Braziller, Inc., 1975.
Mumford, Lewis. referred to by Laskin.
"Nathaniel Hawthorne." http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/hawthorne.html.
"Nathaniel Hawthorne Society." http://www.uab.edu/english/nhsoc/nhspage.html.
Parker, Hershel. Herman Melville: A Biography, Volume I, 1819-1951. Baltimore, MD.: Johns Hopkins University, 1996.
"Resources for the Study of Nathaniel Hawthorne." http://www.d.umn.edu/~sadams/hawthorn.htm.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The American Notebooks. Ann Arbor, MI.: University of Michigan Press, 1964.
Smith, Joseph Edward Adams. Taghconic, or, Letters and Legends about Our Summer Home. Boston, MA.: Redding, 1900.
-----. Taghconic: The Romance and Beauty of the Hills. Boston, MA.: Lee and Shepard, 1879.
"Sophia Hawthorne Web Pages: Bibliography, Biography, Letters, and References." http://english.ohio-state.edu/people/Bracken.1/Hawthorne/Sophia.htm.
Turner, Arlin. Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Van Doren, Mark. Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Critical Biography. New York, NY: Viking Press, 1966.
Watson, Charles N. "The Estrangement of Hawthorne and Melville." The New England Quarterly. 380-402.
Weaver, Raymond. Herman Melville: Mariner and Mystic. New York, NY.: Pageant Books, 1968. referred to by Kinney.
Wilson, James C. "Melville at Arrowhead: A Reevaluation of Melville's Relations with Hawthorne and with His Family." The Hawthorne and Melville Friendship: An Annotated Bibliography, Biography and Critical Essays, and Correspondence Between the Two. London, England: McFarland and Co., Inc., 1991.