Most students of American literature probably can recall the playful French nom de plume—Monsieur de l’Aubépine—that Nathaniel Hawthorne occasionally employed to disguise some of his early attempts at authorship. But very few will know that Monsieur de l’Aubépine enjoyed a surprisingly intelligent critical reception in France during his lifetime. No fewer than six—often startling—essays about the American author appeared in leading French periodicals from 1852 to 1864. The French Face of Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Michael Anesko and N. Christine Brookes, recuperates these lost (or forgotten) critical assessments, making available to English readers for the first time the full texts of these extraordinary contemporaneous French critical essays. Besides offering elegantly rendered (and helpfully annotated) translations of the essays, Anesko and Brookes analyze them in relation to their immediate historical context and examine their unexpected relevance to later critical trends and arguments.
Literary scholarship in our own time calls more and more for the enlargement of perspective and the adaptation of our reading practices to dismantle the narrower limits of nationalist traditions. The French Face of Nathaniel Hawthorne
is a remarkable body of work that can help scholars better understand