Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1852 novel The Blithedale Romance abounds with allusions to Roman Catholicism, which signal the novel’s engagement with the nineteenth-century Catholic-Protestant theological debate, especially as pertains to private judgment, communitarianism, and redemption. Written a decade after Hawthorne’s experience at Brook Farm, a utopian community where residents discoursed earnestly on Catholicism, The Blithedale Romance explores Protestant characters’ conceptualizations of Catholicism and its forms, but also their commitment to Protestant private judgment and individualism. Nearly six years after publication of Blithedale, Hawthorne would offer his most direct reflections on Roman Catholicism in the notebooks he composed during his first and only visit to Italy. By placing Hawthorne’s discussion of Catholic architecture, sacrament, and liturgy in his French and Italian Notebooks alongside his allusions to Catholic forms in The Blithedale Romance, we find Hawthorne’s vision of a latent, organic Catholicism haunting Americans spiritually adrift in a post-Reformation world.

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