Quotation by Alfred Kazin

Hawthorne—like Poe—became a kind of virtuoso in the fiction of the inner life: the only novelist from New England as subtle as Emerson and Dickinson. He was able to present in the current style the extraordinary burden on the New England mind of the past, its moral introspection, its unending self-confrontation. Poe, his only equal in the "tale," was really a convert to aesthetic medievalism, an apologist for slavery, order, and hierarchy, a writer of "grotesques and arabesques" who saw the power of blackness as personal damnation and a way of practicing literary terror. It is the force of the repressed that Poe made his drawing card, the power not of the past but of the dead, as phantoms preying on unsleeping guilt. Hawthorne remained a child of Puritanism, rooted in the village, the theocracy, the rule of law, the numbing force of convention. Poe, by contrast, is forever homeless, landless, seeking a visionary home in some Platonic heaven of eternal Beauty, writing his most poignant poems out of a profound homesickness that operated as a curse.
Alfred Kazin (b. 1915), U.S. critic. An American Procession: The Major American Writers from 1830-1930, ch. 4, Knopf (1984).
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