ABSTRACT

This article argues that The Blithedale Romance portrays Charles Fourier's theory of the affections as unable to account for the depth and unpredictability of emotion. Contravening Fourier's theory of the affections as permanent and stable within individuals, the novel draws on the language of nervous sympathy to depict individuals' emotions as comparatively impermanent, fluid, and resistant to the sort of affective management that lies at the heart of the Fourierist enterprise. In doing so, Blithedale stages an encounter between Fourier's dreams of a planned community and contemporary physiologists' sense that communities arise organically from individuals' sympathetic bonds. Attending to this encounter yields a new perspective on both Hawthorne's relationship with contemporary science and Fourierism's role in The Blithedale Romance.

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