This article focuses on The Dolliver Romance as an occasion to reflect on current discussions and anxieties regarding COVID-19 and the promise of a potential cure. The Dolliver Romance is concerned with alchemy as a means for reversing the aging process, but more than that, it allows us to interrogate America's “fascination with artifice,” which Stephen Mihm has traced to the colonial period. Hawthorne's aged protagonist fears that his grandson's potions might be nothing but counterfeit remedies, and the ostensible dubiousness of the alchemical commodity appears to render everything around Dolliver potentially artificial. The current health crisis in America puts on morbid display the linkage between counterfeit health remedies and the proliferation of wealth and power. I argue that this link is crucial to understanding not only Hawthorne's interest in alchemy but also, on a larger scale, the botched response to the coronavirus pandemic in America.

You do not currently have access to this content.