Nathaniel Hawthorne: Life, Work and Criticism


40 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919966-53-5





Reviewed by Carl Spadoni

Carl Spadoni was Research Collections Librarian at the Mills Library, McMaster University, Hamilton.


Nathaniel Hawthorne: Life, Work and Criticism is a succinct, useful reference guide. Other guides in the series have focused on well known writers such as Dostoevsky, Kafka, and Faulkner. The guides are written by scholars who are intimately familiar with their subjects, and the case of Hawthorne is no exception to this rule. Kenneth Dauber, an associate professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo, is the author of Rediscovering Hawthorne (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977) and many articles on various aspects of American literature.

The book consists of a short biography, a chronological checklist of Hawthorne’s works, a survey of his major works (plot outlines and recurring themes), a critical evaluation of his work, and an annotated checklist of secondary sources.

In the hands of a less capable craftsman, a research tool of this sort would prove to be a pedestrian affair. In spite of the constraint of a mere forty pages, Dauber is wholly successful in providing an entertaining bio-bibliographical tour and discussion of Hawthorne’s work and criticism. According to Dauber, Hawthorne was neither a genius nor an innovator. But his authenticity and maturity of writing set a new standard of fiction which accounts for the general recognition of his novels as masterpieces of nineteenth-century American literature.

This little guide will not displace Arlin Turner’s Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), the standard works of bibliography by C.E. Frazer Clark, Jr. and Jeanetta Boswell, or critical studies such as Gloria C. Erlich’s Family Themes and Hawthorne’s Fiction (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1984). The serious scholar of Hawthorne will necessarily delve into these and similar works. For the beginning student, however, Dauber’s booklet will help to light the way.


Dauber Kenneth, “Nathaniel Hawthorne: Life, Work and Criticism,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 25, 2024,