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The Half-Vanished Structure: Hawthorne's Allegorical Dialectics
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Arts, Department of Literature.
2001 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Invoking Coleridge’s distinction between allegory and symbol, this dissertation makes the case for allegory and symbolism as two divergent perceptual modes. Allegory, it argues, stresses the necessity of perceiving the ideal through the mediation of negation (death), while symbolism flaunts the notion that the ideal can be immediately perceived in the inef-fable realm of the emotions. The dissertation argues that Hawthorne’s romances reject symbolism in favour of an allegorical conception of typology, in which history is seen as the dialectic product of the interplay between fiction and reality. It identifies Milton’s con-ception of the Fortunate Fall as the paradigm of this view, and argues its importance for understanding how Hawthorne’s artistic practice subtly establishes an analogy between sexual love and his own textual mode of expression, the romance, by identifying the tem-poral dimension of the literary text with the hermeneutic space which is made up of the relation between writer and reader.

The opening chapter presents an adaptation of the medieval fourfold scheme of inter-pretation, in which the anagogical sense is understood in performative rather than es-chatological terms. It argues that every narrative is an allegory of its own mediation, and that writer and reader alike must be seen as integral parts of the text rather than as elements that are somehow external to it. The remaining chapters are devoted to analyses of Hawthorne’s writings. It is argued that each of Hawthorne’s romances is structured on a principle of chiastic inversion, the identification of which helps us understand the allegori-cal significance of their often obscure plots. Hawthorne’s allegorical practice, these chap-ters argue, involves a dialectic between writer and reader which is designed to show how art can fulfil a mediational office in history which is structurally analogous to that fulfilled by Christ in Christianity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Solna: Magnus Ullén , 2001. , 364 p.
Keyword [en]
Literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne, American literature, dialectics, history, aesthetics, Christianity, sexuality, the Fortunate Fall, typology, allegory, anagogy, symbolism, chiastic structure, mediation, distance, transcendence
Keyword [sv]
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-1505ISBN: 99-3567351-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-1505DiVA: diva2:161098
Public defence
2001-12-08, Vasasalen, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2001-11-14 Created: 2001-11-14Bibliographically approved

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