Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-559fc8cf4f-6f8dk Total loading time: 0.584 Render date: 2021-03-04T17:14:56.496Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

Hawthorne, Sophia, and Hilda as Copyists: Duplication and Transformation in The Marble Faun

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008


To read closely Nathaniel Hawthorne's Marble Faun in light of its genesis is to discover a series of remarkable parallels between the author, who sometimes copied passages from his notebooks into his romance, and the character Hilda, who copies paintings. But the correlations do not end there: they extend to Sophia, Hawthorne's wife, who resembles Hilda and who carried on her own practice of selectively copying her husband's journals for publication after his death. No matter what caused him to copy in the first place, Hawthorne's manner of composing in part by copying served him as artistic and psychological motivation to develop a certain theme. In this case, Hawthorne's activity of self-borrowing while composing The Marble Faun finds reflection in its theme of copying, and the character Hilda reflects not only Sophia but Hawthorne himself. In The Marble Faun Hawthorne created a microcosm of his current obsession with the practice and implications of copying.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1984

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


1. Hawthorne's denial appears in his journal entry for 15 May 1859. See The French and Italian Notebooks, ed. Woodson, Thomas, The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1980), XIV, 521Google Scholar. Subsequent references to this edition (cited as FIN) will appear in the text. I am grateful to L. Neal Smith, textual editor, for verifying my citations and allowing me to examine the galley proof of the “Historical Commentary.” I am also indebted to the late Claude M. Simpson of the Huntington Library for permission to consult the typescript of “The French and Italian Notebooks,” ed. with an Introd. and Notes by Pearson, Norman Holmes (Dissertation, Yale University, 1941), 4 VolsGoogle Scholar. Pearson cites Sophia's denial (IV, 772), quoting from her own Notes in England and Italy (New York: Putnam, 1875), p. 212Google Scholar; her entry is for 20 February 1858.

2. The Marble Faun: or, The Romance of Monte Beni, ed. Simpson, Claude M., The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1968), IV, 5657.Google Scholar Subsequent references to this edition (cited as MF ) will appear in the text.

3. “Coleridge, Hilda, and The Marble Faun,” ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, NS 19 (1973), 105.Google Scholar Fogle cites the distinction from Coleridge's Shakespeare Criticism, ed. Raysor, Thomas Middleton (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1930), 1, 127–28Google Scholar, but Coleridge makes a similar argument in “On Poesy or Art.” See also Coleridge's Miscellaneous Criticism, ed. Raysor, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936), pp. 207–08.Google Scholar

4. Biographia Literaria, or, Biographical Sketches of My Literary Life and Opinions, ed. Watson, George, rev. ed. (London: Dent, 1956), pp. 173–74.Google Scholar

5. Actually, the whole history of the painting has subsequently been cast into doubt. In Beatrice Cenci, trans. Monti, Luigi (London: The National Alumni, 1906), p. 362Google Scholar, Francesco Guerrazzi proves that Guido could not have painted Beatrice's portrait from the living model because he arrived in Rome after her execution in 1599, while in Beatrice Cenci, trans. Bishop, Morris and Stuart, Henry Longan (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1925), II, 280–88Google Scholar, Corrado Ricci suspects that the portrait depicts the Samian Sibyl instead. More recently, art scholars have even questioned the attribution to Guido: see Munro, Isabel Stevenson and Monro, Kate M., Index to Reproductions of European Paintings (New York: H. W. Wilson, 1956), p. 111.Google Scholar Could the famous portrait itself be a copy?

6. The American Adam: Innocence, Tragedy, and Tradition in the Nineteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955), p. 125.Google Scholar

7. Fogle again finds Coleridgean terms to describe Hilda's state of mind, citing “Dejection: An Ode” to point out the parallels between the loss of imagination experienced by poet and copyist. See “Coleridge, Hilda, and The Marble Faun,” p. 108.Google Scholar

8. In his introduction to the Centenary Edition of The Marble Faun, Simpson (p. xxii)Google Scholar draws from these diaries and Hawthorne's correspondence with his publisher, Fields, James T. (13 September 1858)Google Scholar. The diaries are published for the first time in the Centenary Edition of The French and Italian Notebooks.

9. Hawthorne, Julian, Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Wife: A Biography (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1884), II, 237.Google Scholar

10. In the “Statement of Intent” to his dissertation, Pearson asserts that “more than half [of The Marble Faun] may be said to be transmitted almost verbatim from the journals.” Woodson states, “Nine-tenths of the chapters include material directly from the notebooks, and some chapters are largely adapted from them” (FIN, p. 920Google Scholar). However, Pearson and Woodson are not at all saying the same thing. As the table of cross-references with the romance that appears in FIN indicates, most of the self-borrowing occurs at the phrase or sentence level; in only a dozen instances or so have entire paragraphs been copied. Most of this largescale copying takes place in the last third of the work.

11. The Tauchnitz editions, widely circulated in Rome, particularly enhanced Hawthorne's reputation among English-speaking tourists. In her workin-progress, “Hawthorne and Daguerreotypy,” Carol Shloss notes that the 1860 Leipzig edition was not consistently interleaved with albumen prints by the booksellers, so copies of The Marble Faun appearing under the title Transformation do not necessarily duplicate one another. William B. Todd further informs me that many of the reproduced sketches were themselves copied from photographs.

12. See Hawthorne, Julian, II, 172. In Hawthorne (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1956), p. 127Google Scholar, Henry James observes that Hawthorne was “a good deal bored by the importunity of Italian art,” while in “Statues from Italy: The Marble Faun,” in Hawthorne Centenary Essays, ed. Pearce, Roy Harvey (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1964), p. 125Google Scholar, Harry Levin emphasizes Sophia as taskmistress: “Good American husband that he was, he had conscientiously accompanied his ‘artistic’ wife around the monuments and through the galleries, and had not neglected to do his sightseeing homework in Murray's guidebooks.”

13. “We need not seek far in his journals and letters to know that privacy was for Hawthorne a prerequisite to writing,” reports West, Harry C. in “Hawthorne's Magic Circle: The Artist as Magician,” Criticism, 16 (1974), 318.Google Scholar Yet Randall Stewart notes that Haw thorne shared volumes III and IV of the American notebooks with Sophia, and while they were apart, he wrote letters referring to notebook entries that would let her know “everything that we have done and suffered.” See The American Notebooks, ed. Stewart, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1932), pp. viiGoogle Scholar and especially 329, n. 577.

14. The American Notebooks, ed. Stewart, , p. xxxvii.Google Scholar

15. See Lathrop, 's “Introductory Note” to Passages from the French and Italian Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1883), pp. 5and 7Google Scholar. There is no indication that Lathrop actually examined the journals in manuscript – his Riverside Edition duplicates Sophia's Passages. Even if he had seen the manuscripts, their relatively clean format (not including Sophia's emendations) could have deceived him. Simpson observes of the American notebooks that Hawthorne was not casual in his private writing, that he could make alterations without disfiguring the page. See The American Notebooks, ed. Simpson, , The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1972), VIII, 681.Google Scholar

16. “Nathaniel Hawthorne,” Cornhill Magazine, 26 (1872), 717–34Google Scholar; rpt. in Hawthorne: The Critical Heritage, ed. Crowley, J. Donald (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970), pp. 486503Google Scholar (see especially p. 492).

17. “Nathaniel Hawthorne,” Atlantic Monthly, 5 (1860), 614–22Google Scholar; rpt. in Character and Characteristic Men (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1884), pp. 218–42Google Scholar (see especially p. 238).

18. Roba di Roma; cited in Brooks, Van Wyck, (The Dream of Arcadia: American Writers and Artists in Italy, 1760—1915) (New York: Dutton, 1958), p. 135.Google Scholar

19. In sculpture, as in painting, Hawthorne notes and derides mechanical copying. The narrator of The Marble Faun describes how a sculptor may commission “a class of men whose merely mechanical skill” allows them to execute in marble the plaster-cast of his design: the result is “not his work, but that of some nameless machine in human shape” (MF, p. 115Google Scholar). The “mechanical ingenuity” of some sculptors “might have been fitly employed in making waxwork” (MF, p. 136)Google Scholar, the very term Coleridge uses for a mechanical copy. See Fogle, , Hawthorne's Fiction: The Light and the Dark (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press), p. 181.Google Scholar

20. Hawthorne, Julian, II, 239–40.Google Scholar

21. Here Hawthorne emphasizes the difficulty of analyzing a great work of art or of the artist's conscious attempt to understand how to produce it. This entry recalls an earlier one about the Cenci portrait: “Guido may have held the brush, but he painted better than he knew” (FIN, p. 93).Google Scholar

22. “The Genius of Nathaniel Hawthorne,” North American Review, 274 (1879), 203–22Google Scholar; rpt. in Crowley, , pp. 514–22Google Scholar (see especially p. 522).

23. Hawthorne, Julian, II, 221Google Scholar. Woodson notes that on twenty-five occasions Sophia removed Hawthorne's apparently “disconcerting” superlatives from her edition of the notebooks (FIN, p. 928Google Scholar). Hawthorne's tendency toward indiscriminate superlatives accords with his general habit of slipping into subjective description in The English Notebooks. See the abstract of Timms, David's “Hawthorne at the Reform Club,” in The Hawthorne Society Newsletter, 6 (Spring, 1980), 2.Google Scholar

24. Bright writes to Hawthorne, about The Marble Faun, “You seem to enter into [the statues' and pictures'] (or their artists') very soul, and lay it bare before us.”Google Scholar See Hawthorne, Julian, II, 239.Google Scholar

25. As an interesting commentary on the effects of extended copying, Herman Melville's Bartleby is finally reduced to total inaction; his refrain, “I would prefer not to,” would indeed mark a fearsome end for a creative artist.

26. “Art Allegory in The Marble Faun,” PMLA, 77 (1962), 260.Google Scholar

27. Letter to Ticknor, William D. from Liverpool, dated 19 January 1855Google Scholar. Several recent articles have dealt with Hawthorne's frustrations about publishing in the predominantly female market, notably Wood, Ann D., “The ‘Scribbling Women’ and Fanny Fern: Why Women Wrote,” American Quarterly, 23 (1971), 324CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Smith, Henry Nash, “The Scribbling Women and the Cosmic Success Story,” Critical Inquiry, 1 (1974), 4770CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Frederick, John T., “Hawthorne's ‘Scribbling Women,’New England Quarterly, 48 (1975), 231–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

28. See. Lathrop, 's “Introductory Note” to Passages from the American Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1883), P. 5.Google Scholar

29. For a discussion of Sophia's editorial influence on The Marble Faun, see Bowers, Fredson' “Textual Introduction” in the Centenary Edition, pp. lxv—lxx.Google Scholar

30. In his 1883 introduction to the Riverside Edition of the American notebooks, Lathrop (p. 11) defends Sophia's policy and perpetuates it: “Here and there passages of the original record have been omitted in the Note-Books as published by Mrs. Hawthorne; but the most vital and significant portions are retained in the printed version; and these, in the collected works, are all that will be given to the public.”

31. In what seems like a change of heart from his earlier assertion that Sophia “misrepresents Hawthorne's character and literary genius,” Stewart defends her as taking no more liberties than other nineteenth-century editors, especially when they were relatives or friends of the author. See his introductory chapters, “Mrs. Hawthorne's Revisions of the American Notebooks,” p. xxiGoogle Scholar, and “Mrs. Hawthorne's Revisions of the English Notebooks,” in The English Notebooks, ed. Stewart, (New York: MLA, 1941), p. xxi.Google Scholar In fairness to Sophia, she was criticized by many who thought more of Hawthorne's private papers should have remained private. See, for example, the British Quarterly Review, 49 (1869), 574–75Google Scholar, and the New York Daily Tribune, 13 November 1868, p. 6.Google Scholar To understand better her sense of delicacy, we would do well to reread her concluding remarks in her American preface to the English notebooks: “When a person breaks in, unannounced, upon the morning hours of an artist, and finds him not in full dress, the intruder, and not the surprised artist, is doubtless at fault.” See Passages from the English Note-Books of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Boston: Fields, Osgood, 1870), 1, VIII.Google Scholar Interestingly enough, the preface sent to America in April underwent another revision in May for Strahan's English edition, and in her final words, Sophia removes herself as “the intruder,” now asserting that “apologies are unnecessary” coming from a friend and “might be thought unbecoming on either side” (I, x).

32. Pearson, , IV, 947.Google Scholar

33. Letter to Fields (4 October 1865); cited in The American Notebooks, ed. Simpson, , p. 683.Google Scholar

34. Passages from the English Note-Books, [ed. Hawthorne, Sophia], I, vi–vii.Google Scholar

35. However, thanks to Sophia's diligent expurgation in the 1871 edition of Passages from the French and Italian Note-Books, the evidence of Hawthorne's self-copying in The Marble Faun has been successfully obscured for generations of readers. (The 1871 edition was published in London by Strahan; James R. Osgood published the American edition in Boston the following year. Some bibliographers have mistakenly ascribed the American edition to Una Hawthorne.) Of course, Stewart's editions of the American and English notebooks, in 1932 and 1941 respectively, alerted critics to Sophia's editorial practices, but while awaiting the 1980 Centenary Edition of the French and Italian notebooks, many critics have had to extrapolate from Stewart's discoveries. Before the Centenary Edition, the only published version of the notebooks containing entries that Sophia edited out was Newton Arvin's The Heart of Hawthorne's Journals (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1929)Google Scholar, but his own selectivity (and absence of any scholarly apparatus) relegates his work to coffee table reading. In addition, Julian had included some of the expurgated passages in his two biographies.

36. See her letter to Chorley, Henry of the AthenaeumGoogle Scholar; reproduced in Hawthorne, Julian, 11, 246–47Google Scholar. She is emphatic on the subject in another letter, written before The Marble Faun was finished: “Mr. Hawthorne had no idea of portraying me in Hilda. Whatever resemblance one sees is accidental.” See Lathrop, Rose Hawthorne, Memories of Hawthorne (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1897), p. 348.Google Scholar Already Sophia is anticipating the comparison.

37. Heroines of Fiction (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1901), pp. 188–89Google Scholar; rpt. in The Recognition of Nathaniel Hawthorne: Selected Criticism Since 1828, ed. Cohen, B. Bernard (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969), pp. 136–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

38. For numerous examples of his salutation to “my Dove,” and the same manner of adulation, see the emended Love Letters of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 2 vols. (Chicago: Society of the Dofobs, 1907)Google Scholar, or its reprint with a foreword by Clark, C. E. Fraser Jr. (Washington, D.c.: Ncr/Microcard Editions, 1972)Google Scholar. The first volume of the Centenary Edition of the letters is scheduled for publication in 1985. Many critics have seen the Sophia-Hilda parallel in terms of Hawthorne's idealization of women.

39. See his chapter on The Marble Faun in Hawthorne: A Critical Study, rev. ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963), pp. 209–25.Google Scholar

40. See especially pp. 216–17 of his chapter “Subterranean Reminiscences,” in The Sins of the Fathers: Hawthorne's Psychological Themes (NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1966)Google Scholar. In his chapter “Psychological Romance,” p. 14Google Scholar, Crews is talking about the changes in Passages from the American Note-Books – he would have had a field day if he had known about Sophia's omissions from the French and Italian notebooks.

41. Hawthorne, Julian, II, 225.Google Scholar

42. Review of Passages from the French and Italian Note-Books, in the Nation, 14 (1872), 172–73Google Scholar; rpt. in Crowley, , pp. 447–52Google Scholar (see especially p. 448). James, like other reviewers who detected Hawthorne's naiveté as an art critic, nonetheless joined the general critical applause for his “original” portraits of his contemporaries.

43. Memories of Hawthorne, p. iii.Google Scholar

44. The letter to Bright appears in Hawthorne, Julian, 11, 168–69Google Scholar. As for burning Sophia's “maiden letters,': Hawthorne exclaims, ”What a trustful guardian of secret matters fire is!” See The American Notebooks, ed. Simpson, , p. 552.Google Scholar But once again Sophia tried to have the last word by editing out the explicit reference to whose letters they were. See the entry for 9 June 1853 in Passages from the American Note-Books. Needless to say, Edward Wagenknecht is not alone in contending that on the basis of Hawthorne's own editing practices, he might well have agreed with most of Sophia's changes. See Nathaniel Hawthorne: Man and Writer (New York: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 154.Google Scholar

45. Review of Transformation, in The Times (London), 7 April 1860, p. 5Google Scholar; rpt. in Crowley, , pp. 328–32Google Scholar (see especially P. 332).

46. Waggoner, (p. 213)Google Scholar observes that Miriam “often speaks for the darker side of Hawthorne's mind,” adding, however, that “she cannot be taken as always Hawthorne's spokesman.”

47. This self-criticism and tribute to Trollope appears in an oft-quoted letter to Fields, dated 11 February 1860, from Leamington. Trollope's works seem “written on the strength of beef and through the inspiration of ale.” The MS is in the Huntington Library.

48. Waggoner, , p. 217.Google Scholar

49. Fogle, , Hawthorne's Fiction, p. 173Google Scholar; Waggoner, , p. 221;Google ScholarMartin, Terence, Nathaniel Hawthorne (New York: Twayne, 1965), p. 175.Google Scholar

50. See n. 1 above.

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 17 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 4th March 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Hawthorne, Sophia, and Hilda as Copyists: Duplication and Transformation in The Marble Faun
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Hawthorne, Sophia, and Hilda as Copyists: Duplication and Transformation in The Marble Faun
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Hawthorne, Sophia, and Hilda as Copyists: Duplication and Transformation in The Marble Faun
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *