“The Effervescence of a Moment”

Hawthorne, Poe, the Penny Press, and the Manifold Temporalities of Antebellum Short Fiction


  • Carlo Martinez




Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, penny press, temporality, antebellum culture


This article suggests that the rise of the new journalism of the penny press during the antebellum America constituted an inescapable reference point and challenge for Poe and Hawthorne, for its emergence radically transformed the context and the course of the early phases of their careers and needs to be examined as a fundamental component of their literary visions. To illustrate that, the article focuses on the ways in which the penny press reverberates in Hawthorne’s and Poe’s fictional temporalities. In fact, their works seem to respond to the new regimes of time that were being introduced by the rise of daily newspaper that was booming in the 1830s, forming the framework within which the two writers’ construction of their authorial figures took shape. Centering primarily on the writings of the early phase of their careers, the article retraces the repeated and central appearances that news and the newspaper make in the writings of Hawthorne and Poe, suggesting how their responses to the manifold temporalities in which they were imbricated were key to the development of their different literary conceptions and authorial figures.


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