This article situates Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance (1852) within the debates around Fourierism, marriage, and Hawthorne’s literary legacy that took place in contemporary US magazines and periodicals in the mid-nineteenth century. In doing so, I rely on two notions of influence. First, while many periodicals regarded Hawthorne as a potential representative of a new national literature, they remained wary of the influence his unorthodox portrayals of marriage might have on readers and on the status of the nuclear family as the foundation of a sound society. Publications like The Southern Quarterly and The Church Review, and Ecclesiastical Register featured articles wishing that Hawthorne would fall in line with the British tradition of the neat marriage-plot, thus upholding the sanctity of marriage and securing his place within a burgeoning American literary canon. Second, I reframe Hawthorne’s relationship to his received literary patrimony, arguing that The Blithedale Romance queers the influence of the Miltonic masque tradition. In contrast to previous scholarship, which often seeks one-to-one allegories between the intertexts, I argue that The Blithedale Romance continually reappropriates situations and recasts characters from Milton’s Comus to expose contradictions and inconsistencies within hetero-patriarchal lineage and literary inheritance.

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