‘Tentacular thinking’ and the ‘abcanny’ in Hawthorne’s Gothic gardens of masculine egotism
in EcoGothic gardens in the long nineteenth century
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Writing in mid-nineteenth-century America, Hawthorne chose various locations at home and abroad for his richly ambiguous tales and novels. The focus here is on three of Hawthorne’s well-known ‘Gothic’ texts. Each text uses gardens and outdoor settings, from the sun-drenched Renaissance parks and gardens of Italy to the often-inclement pioneering farmlands of Massachusetts, as the venues for dramas with diabolical aspects and subversive. Hawthorne is long renowned for his allegories, but new readings are here afforded by digging deeper into his radical thought with ecocritical and posthuman theoretical tools. However, the apparently superficial symbolism of luxuriant or thwarted plants and entangled gardens represents more complex ideological challenges than are generally acknowledged or than pertain simply to Hawthorne’s (and America’s) Puritan heritage or the search for a new Eden. By bringing Donna Haraway’s recent theoretical work on what she names the ‘Chthulucene’ to bear on Hawthorne’s elusive, ambiguous, nineteenth-century tales, correlations can be found between their respective concerns and the manner in which these are ddressed. Further, China Miéville’s similar endorsement of tentacles, the ‘tentacular novum’, is brought to bear, interrogating the difference between the more conventional Gothic ‘uncanny’ and the ‘new weird’ ‘abcanny’.

EcoGothic gardens in the long nineteenth century

Phantoms, fantasy and uncanny flowers

Editor: Sue Edney

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