Hawthorne Impressions

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Hawthorne Impressions

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 11:10am

Although three threads exist already concerning Nathaniel Hawthorne, the need for a catch-all component was apparent to me, so voila.

The Minister's Black Veil
Rappaccini's Daughter
Young Goodman Brown

I've now read all three, and liked them. Finally succumbing to The Scarlet Letter only within the past five years, as a result of Crazy Stupid Love (2011), I found that experience to be much better than expected. It set the stage for the other works, alongside some pertinent biography research.

Also, the ebook collection that I described in various other threads contained several novellas and short stories, most unknown to me and most likely not Gothic Literature, however they did lead me to The Marble Faun, my current read. Not only is it on the list of 1001 books to read before you die, but set in Italy, it features the catacombs in Rome.

So, now that my motivation is clear, this can be an 'Ode to Hawthorne' thread (noose?), for better or worse. A secure place to duke out the love/hate elements of his writing, legacy, personality. With lots of material and lots of opinion, it should make for fun sparring, as many comments thus far have indicated. I suspect, as with Poe, it's often all or nothing!

Editat: feb. 5, 2020, 10:08am

Here's a side pocket to hold thoughts about The Marble Faun.


So far; the story seems like Hawthorne's mixture of Ann Ward Radcliffe and Dostoevsky (Crime & Punishment), describes the theme as 'the fall of man' and 'a study in guilt' but the romance may be a combination of elements from travel guide/gothic/pastoral/fable, the book was published as 'Transformation' in England, the concept that wine spoils as it is transported from its origin soil is an interesting idea and I wonder if this was told to the author or if he pulled it from his own imagination, etc.

This seems to be a significant passage in chapter 23:
"I must keep your secret, and die of it, unless God sends me some relief by methods which are now beyond my power to imagine. It is very dreadful. Ah! now I understand how the sins of generations past have created an atmosphere of sin for those that follow. While there is a single guilty person in the universe, each innocent one must feel his innocence tortured by that guilt. … Every crime destroys more Edens than our own!"

Crux of gothic theme (family stain) in chapter 26:
"The Monte Beni family, as this legend averred, drew their origin from the Pelasgic race, who peopled Italy in times that may be called prehistoric. It was the same noble breed of men, of Asiatic birth, that settled in Greece; the same happy and poetic kindred who dwelt in Arcadia, and--whether they ever lived such life or not--enriched the world with dreams, at least, and fables, lovely, if unsubstantial, of a Golden Age. In those delicious times, when deities and demigods appeared familiarly on earth, mingling with its inhabitants as friend with friend,--when nymphs, satyrs, and the whole train of classic faith or fable hardly took pains to hide themselves in the primeval woods,--at that auspicious period the lineage of Monte Beni had its rise. Its progenitor was a being not altogether human, yet partaking so largely of the gentlest human qualities, as to be neither awful nor shocking to the imagination. A sylvan creature, native among the woods, had loved a mortal maiden, and--perhaps by kindness, and the subtle courtesies which love might teach to his simplicity, or possibly by a ruder wooing--had won her to his haunts. In due time he gained her womanly affection; and, making their bridal bower, for aught we know, in the hollow of a great tree, the pair spent a happy wedded life in that ancient neighborhood where now stood Donatello's tower.
From this union sprang a vigorous progeny that took its place unquestioned among human families. In that age, however, and long afterwards, it showed the ineffaceable lineaments of its wild paternity: it was a pleasant and kindly race of men, but capable of savage fierceness, and never quite restrained within the trammels of social law. They were strong, active, genial, cheerful as the sunshine, passionate as the tornado. Their lives were rendered blissful by art unsought harmony with nature."

Lush writing in chapter 27:
"To the sculptor's eye, nevertheless, they were still rich with beauty. They were picturesque in that sweetly impressive way where wildness, in a long lapse of years, has crept over scenes that have been once adorned with the careful art and toil of man; and when man could do no more for them, time and nature came, and wrought hand in hand to bring them to a soft and venerable perfection. There grew the fig-tree that had run wild and taken to wife the vine, which likewise had gone rampant out of all human control; so that the two wild things had tangled and knotted themselves into a wild marriage bond, and hung their various progeny--the luscious figs, the grapes, oozy with the Southern juice, and both endowed with a wild flavor that added the final charm--on the same bough together."


Author's Basic Timeline:
- Nathaniel Hawthorne lived JUL1804-MAY1864, 2 sisters, raised by mother's family
- short stories written between 1837-1841 published in Twice-Told Tales in 1842 (after original publication anonymously in magazines, etc.)
- author married Sophia Amelia Peabody in 1842, she lived SEP1809-FEB1871, a painter, 3 children
- 1846 Mosses from an Old Manse (short stories)
- 1850 The Scarlet Letter
- 1851 The House of the Seven Gables
- 1852 The Blithedale Romance
- 1853 Tanglewood Tales for Boys and Girls is a sequel to A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys and is a re-writing of well-known Greek myths in a volume for children. There was very little children's literature available at the time, so Hawthorne vowed to alter that situation.
- 1853-1857 lived in Liverpool
- 1858 moved to Italy
- 1860 The Marble Faun written/rewritten/published
- inspired by Praxiteles sculpture
- family history included a great-great grandfather, John Hathorne, who judged Salem witch trials without regret (Captain Nathaniel Hathorne was his father, so the last name spelling was intentionally changed after leaving home/school to distance himself, although his father died in 1808)
- 1864 buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery at Concord. Widely eulogized as one of America's foremost writers, his fellow authors gathered to show their respect. Among his pallbearers were Longfellow, Holmes, Lowell, and Emerson. Today he rests there with Washington Irving, Emerson, Thoreau, and the Alcotts, as well as his wife, Sophia.

What led me initially to this story was The Lost Stradivarius by John Meade Falkner. Set in England and Italy, this story was short enough not to be too intimidating (4+hr audiobook), but long enough to get its hook deeply secured. It was one of those couldn't-put-it-down experiences and I knew The Marble Faun featured a similar setting (not Naples, but Rome).

FYI - some info is gleaned from wiki/cliffs notes

Editat: feb. 8, 2020, 4:25pm

And another for various short stories or novellas beginning with Ethan Brand...

(under construction)

Reading done, still mulling, kind of loved it!

The more short stories that get churned through the mind mill, the more patterns emerge. I will have to go back to my links about American Gothic NYU lectures to refresh the analysis of Hawthorne's harsh criticism of domestic fiction novels (by Stowe, etc.) versus his elevated Romance stories?? It was both funny and sad. Guilt in many sordid forms. His rants are legendary.

Editat: feb. 4, 2020, 8:14pm

There is a collection online of Twice-Told Tales (LibriVox audiobooks) which divides each up timewise so you can pick and choose depending. My ebook features a few, but several not included in that published work are listed below:

The Gray Champion

My Kinsman Major Molineux
The Gorgon's Head
The Miraculous Pitcher
The Great Stone Face
The Snow Image
Three Golden Apples

NB - the title is from Shakespeare

Editat: feb. 8, 2020, 7:33pm

Another renowned work is The House of Seven Gables, which I have read at least twice before, and The Blithedale Romance, which is now completed.

- Vincent Price drew me to the film, which drew me to the first book.
- Both occupy places on the 1001bymrbyd list. Truthfully, I'm surprised Hawthorne has four on this list, when other notable authors have few or none. The others; The Marble Faun, The Scarlet Letter.
- Female characters 'spar' in The Blithedale Romance (Zenobia and Priscilla) in a similar fashion to The Marble Faun (Miriam and Hilda).
- Typical gothic elements in The Blithedale Romance; exile, supressed crime, family secret, hereditary wealth, uncle and orphan, frail female, wild dark strong gypsy/witch type female, expected and unexpected deaths, guilt and damaged psyches, unrequited love, remote location in ruins is a farmhouse this time not a castle, handsome charasmatic villain, public medium con game, (mock?) witch trial, etc.


"I do not want to be a doctor and live by men's diseases, nor a minister to live by their sins, nor a lawyer to live by their quarrels. So, I don't see that there is anything left for me but to be an author." NH


Link for NYU lectures (each just over an hour in length)

(1 of 3) on American Gothic

(2 of 3)

(3 of 3)

American Puritanism

Nathanial Hawthorne
(Hawthorne segment begins just before the 23min mark, before that is Uncle Tom's Cabin)

feb. 8, 2020, 4:55am

>2 frahealee: - Ah! now I understand how the sins of generations past have created an atmosphere of sin for those that follow.

I always find him a puzzling author but that line, I suspect, might provide some sort of key to him. From what I've read, the past seemed to weigh heavily with him.

Editat: feb. 8, 2020, 5:51pm

>6 alaudacorax: It appears that he's got a real thing for veils (phobia?), as one (silver, not black) makes an appearance midway through The Blithedale Romance. So far, I sense echoes of Mark Twain's The Mysterious Stranger and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009). I don't understand its significance yet...

He also seems to like doves, as feathered friend and as metaphor. They feature in both The Blithdale Romance (USA) and The Marble Faun (Italy).

Also, the older the author got, the less he launches critical barbs with fewer apologies needed. =)

Editat: juny 7, 2020, 7:06am

Working through Flannery O'Connor novels and short stories, the material 'liner notes' revealed that one of her favourite authors was Nathaniel Hawthorne. Combined with the French priest-paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, mentioned in reference to Everything That Rises Must Converge (his statement), these men help explain a lot about Flannery's urgent poignant and unrelenting writing style. It didn't solely emerge from her chronic ill health and early death from Lupus at age 39. This post is a reminder to myself, as I probe into the entire collection of both O'Connor and Hawthorne. His writing reflects northern issues, hers, southern. I wouldn't have thought of them in the same breath prior to reading that illuminating background, but their gothic overlaps are undeniable during literary excavation. Cracking the familiar and comfortable shell of self-righteous behaviour with jarring or violent events and vivid characters seems to have been imperative to both authors. He died in 1864, she died in 1964. Nice symmetry.