A Concordian Hail-Mary Pass

Toward the end of the “Hawthorne” essay in Essays Before a Sonata, Ives refers to “the old hymn-tune that haunts the church and sings only to those in the churchyard to protect them from secular noises, as when the circus parade comes down Main Street….” In writing my Concord Sonata book I’ve read, or in many cases reread, almost all of Hawthorne, especially the stories and novels in which this kind of reference might arise, and I can’t find anything Ives could have been referring to. As I continue slogging through the remainder (and I have to admit, I really, really don’t like Hawthorne – he’s a brilliant describer of certain psychological states, but I weary of his reflexive circumlocutions and the inevitable supernatural shticks that clog his narratives) – is there any Hawthorne scholar or lover out there who recognizes where this could have come from? There’s a thank-you in my acknowledgements in it for you.


  1. Allan J. Cronin says

    I am no Hawthorne scholar but you might try asking Professor Philip Gura whose 2007 book American Transcendentalism is certainly worth a read. You may contact him at:

    Contact Info
    Web: gura.web.unc.edu
    Email: gura@email.unc.edu
    Phone: 919-962-4033
    Facsimile: 919-962-3520
    Mail: CB 3520
    University of North Carolina
    Chapel Hill, North Carolina

    Hope this saves your having to read all of Hawthorne (shudder).


    KG replies: Good idea. I already tried Bard’s Hawthorne scholar. I wrote Dr. Gura a fan letter once after reading American Transcendentalism, and I’m about to read it again. He didn’t respond (as I assured him he didn’t need to), and I hate to bother strangers. Besides, Hawthorne wasn’t *really* a Transcendentalist, and Gura seems to only mention him in passing.