F.O. Matthiessen and Newton Arvin have a few things in common. They were of the same generation (Matthiessen was born in 1902, two years after Arvin). They were educated at Harvard (Arvin as an undergraduate, Matthiessen as a graduate student). They were both gay and both sympathetic to the political left. Their sexuality and their politics would bring unwelcome scrutiny to both men near the ends of their lives (Matthiessen committed suicide in 1950, and Arvin died in 1963 after retiring in disgrace from Smith College in 1960). They both wrote important scholarship on the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Arvin's book appearing in 1929 (reviewed by Matthiessen in the New Republic in 1930) and Matthiessen's book-within-a-book, his section on Hawthorne in American Renaissance, in 1941. In their treatment of Hawthorne, these two vital critics of nineteenth-century American literature interestingly diverge. In what follows, I explore the difference between...

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