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Monomania has its rewards – an incantatory power that shines through. Howe's images, being historical as well as biographical, have the eerie shading of ghosts half-believed in, giving a surreal, dreamlike atmosphere reminiscent of Borges at his sharpest.

Kirkus Reviews

Susan Howe's classic groundbreaking exploration of early American literature


The Birth-mark

Nonfiction by Susan Howe

In this classic, groundbreaking exploration of early American literature, Susan Howe reads our intellectual inheritance as a series of civil wars, where each text is a wilderness in which a strange lawless author confronts interpreters and editors eager for settlement. Howe approaches Anne Hutchinson, Mary Rowlandson, Cotton Mather, Hawthorne, Emerson, Melville and Emily Dickinson as a fellow writer—her insights, fierce and original, are rooted in her seminal textural scholarship in examination of their editorial histories of landmark works. In the process, Howe uproots settled institutionalized roles of men and women as well as of poetry and prose—and of poetry and prose. The Birth-mark, first published in 1993, now joins the New Directions canon of a dozen Susan Howe titles. published December 7th, 2015