Hawthorne's ‘Cold Fancy’ and the Revision of Sympathetic Exchange

Frank Christianson

in Philanthropy in British and American Fiction

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625086
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652068 | DOI:
Hawthorne's ‘Cold Fancy’ and the Revision of Sympathetic Exchange

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This chapter describes how Nathaniel Hawthorne revises the romantic doctrine of feeling, specifically arguing that The House of Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance use philanthropy to rework Adam Smith's and David Hume's notions of sympathetic identification, offering a model of social relations antithetical to the values of romanticism. Henry Giles offers two versions of philanthropy: ‘inspiration’, or the psychology of benevolence, and ‘agency’, or the actions of public charities. The valuations that inform Giles' and Richard Holt Hutton's reactions to Hawthorne's novels reflect the terms of a broader debate regarding the nature and function of moral agency in the mid-nineteenth century, a debate which frequently intersected philanthropy and artistic representation. Miles Coverdale's anxiety over and eventual antagonism towards Hollingsworth invariably focuses on his philanthropy. He establishes the grounds for realism's revision of sentimental sympathy based on the possibility of making the very distinctions that elude Hawthorne's romantic narrator.

Keywords: Nathaniel Hawthorne; Seven Gables; Blithedale Romance; philanthropy; social relations; romanticism; Henry Giles; Richard Holt Hutton; Hollingsworth; Miles Coverdale

Chapter.  13640 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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