, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 141-160

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Hawthorne’s reception of Byron


Among the many references to Byron in the Twice-Told Tales and Mosses from an Old Manse, the most elaborate and entertaining are found in “P.’s Correspondence,” first published in the Democratic Review, April 1845. References to Byron in “The Seven Vagabonds” (1833), “Passages from a Relinquished Work” (1834), “Sketches from Memory” (1835), “A Virtuoso Collection” (1842), “The Procession of Life” (1843), “Earth’s Holocaust” (1844), contribute further to the critique of Byron and provide a matrix for analyzing the Byronic elements in The Scarlet Letter (1850) and more especially in The Marble Faun (1860). This essay draws from the novels and tales, as well as the letters, in constructing a coherent account of Hawthorne’s reception of Byron. Key elements in his reception were Byron’s struggle against his Calvinist background; his violation of moral standards; his representations of forbidden love and the noble outlaw with a guilty past; his exile in Italy and his conjuring of Italian intrigue. These are also key elements in Hawthorne’s own tales and novels, especially those written during Hawthorne’s stay in Rome and Florence from 1857 to 1859.


Byron Hawthorne Italy Calvinism