Naysayers: Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville

Richard Kopley

in The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195331035
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Naysayers: Poe, Hawthorne, and Melville

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This article takes on Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville calling them the naysayers among the Transcendentalists. The article enunciates that they brilliantly insisted upon themselves to resist effectively Transcendentalism. Their objections ranged from verbal obscurity to emotional reserve; their strongest shared concern was Transcendentalism's insubstantial treatment of the darker side of humanity. As the article explores, Poe's objections to Transcendentalism included what he considered its naïve reformism and its aesthetic inadequacy. Though Poe was keenly interested in the Transcendent, he was of an opinion that “Frogpondian” or “Bostonian” Transcendence could be problematic. The Transcendentalists of Boston were, to Poe, unreliable enthusiasts and unknowing zealots. Similarly Hawthorne and Melville had taken on Emerson's point of views, Melville's view of the social stringency of Emerson was already evident. His greatest objection to Emerson was his failure to recognize the reality of evil.

Keywords: Edgar Allan Poe; Bostonian; Hall of Fantasy; unreliable enthusiasts

Article.  8309 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (19th Century) ; Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)

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