Samuel Chase Coale's The Entanglements of Nathaniel Hawthorne: Haunted Minds and Ambiguous Approaches is a well-written and wide-ranging survey (intended for a broad audience) of what is now more than a century's worth of literary criticism and formal literary scholarship relating to the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, still perhaps the most insistently canonical of all American authors. For Coale, “entanglement” (a term borrowed from the lexicon of quantum physics) goes far to explain both the richness and the confused (and often confusing) nature of the received scholarly tradition, since Hawthorne's intertwined and interpenetrating allegories, dualities, and polarities help to account for the “complicated and labyrinthine” nature both of the work itself and of the many scholarly responses that it has engendered.

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