Book Review of Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Salem Is My Dwelling Place: A Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne
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Psychologically probing (but free of all jargon), Miller's elegantly written study gives us a fresh, sympathetic picture of an immensely complex, repressed man. Hawthorne's fiction (especially the four completed novels) is tantalizingly veiled autobiography in which he reveals, among other things, his love-hate relationship with his stern Salem ancestors and his abiding sense of having been early abandoned by his father, who died at sea. Recognizing that Hawthorne's fiction revolves around family, Miller explores (with brilliant results) what lay below the surface of Hawthorne's apparently idyllic relationship with his wife Sophia, his mother, and his contemporary, Melville. This is a masterful work, wholly satisfying.