"I am a citizen of somewhere else," proclaimed Nathaniel Hawthorne in his preface to The Scarlet Letter. In many ways, Henry James shared that citizenship. Intrigued by their resolute stance as outsiders, Dan McCall here reassesses these two quintessentially American writers. He focuses on their works and on their connections to American history and culture.
Adopting an informal, conversational tone, McCall invites us to join him in a reading of some of Hawthorne's and James's masterpieces not only The Scarlet Letter and The Portrait of a Lady but their great short stories, extensive notebooks, and other novels as well. He explains the significance of James's book, Hawthorne, shows the influence of Emerson on both writers, and conveys throughout James's imaginative debt to Hawthorne. He concludes by comparing their views on what it means to be an American writer.
More than a knowledgeable and sensitive guide to two great American literary figures, Citizens of Somewhere Else offers keen observations about reading in general and the way literature is taught in colleges and universities today suggesting that modern critics are often more concerned with their own agendas than with the substance of the works they analyze. Through McCall's eyes we gain a renewed appreciation both of James and Hawthorne and of the insights that criticism can bring to literature."