“That Infinite Fraternity of Feeling”: The Melville-Hawthorne Friendship

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Steven Olsen-Smith


This poster exhibit will explore the brief but intense friendship of Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, both visually and analytically. Our team will take a methodological approach in examining qualitative evidence to draw conclusions from reviewing previously photographed and published marginalia on the Melville’s Marginalia website. Additionally, we will be drawing conclusions about the significance of their intellectual and personal camaraderie based on analyzing the surviving letters between the two writers, as well as from the book review Melville wrote about Hawthorne’s Mosses from the Old Manse in “Hawthorne and His Mosses.” Our analysis will be demonstrated through representation of these letters, this invaluable book review, and from Hawthorne’s published texts once belonging to Herman Melville with marks and annotations in his own hand. As interns, we have contributed to the collective production of the website itself, while also meeting once-weekly to discuss thematic elements as they pertain to our expanding knowledge of Herman Melville. We have discussed intensively the ways in which Melville’s friendship with Hawthorne has contributed to Melville’s ideology and writings. We plan to address the most significant of the thematic elements we have explored in our research, such as American individuality in art and in spirit, the elusive nature of Truth, and questions concerning Divinity.

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