The Portable Hawthorne

 
9780517478578: The Portable Hawthorne

The Portable Hawthorne includes writings from each major stage in the career of Nathaniel Hawthorne: a number of his most intriguing early tales, all of The Scarlet Letter, excerpts from his three subsequently published romances—The House of Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance, and The Marble Faun—as well as passages from his European journals and a sampling of his last, unfinished works. The editor’s introduction and head notes trace the evolution of Hawthorne’s writing over the course of his long career: from the tales, to their apotheosis in The Scarlet Letter, through his popular romances, to his private journals and frustrated attempts at another romance. Readers looking for a critical vantage point from which to see Hawthorne whole—his artistic rise, triumph, and sad decline—can find it in this collection.

 

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About the Author:

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, the son and grandson of proud New England seafarers. He lived in genteel poverty with his widowed mother and two young sisters in a house filled with Puritan ideals and family pride in a prosperous past. His boyhood was, in most respects, pleasant and normal. In 1825 he was graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, and he returned to Salem determined to become a writer of short stories. For the next twelve years he was plagued with unhappiness and self-doubts as he struggled to master his craft. He finally secured some small measure of success with the publication of his Twice-Told Tales (1837). His marriage to Sophia Peabody in 1842 was a happy one. The Scarlet Letter (1850), which brought him immediate recognition, was followed by The House of the Seven Gables (1851). After serving four years as the American Consul in Liverpool, England, he traveled in Italy; he returned home to Massachusetts in 1860. Depressed, weary of writing, and failing in health, he died on May 19, 1864, at Plymouth, New Hampshire.

William C. Spengemann is the Hale Professor in Arts and Sciences and Professor of English Emeritus at Dartmouth College. He edited the Penguin Classics edition of Nineteenth-Century American Poetry.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Table of Contents

 

Title Page

Copyright Page

Introduction

 

I - THE TALES 1830-1852

EDITOR’S NOTE

MY KINSMAN, MAJOR MOLINEUX 1832

ROGER MALVIN’S BURIAL 1832

YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN 1835

THE MINISTER’S BLACK VEIL - A PARABLE 1836

THE MAN OF ADAMANT - AN APOLOGUE 1837

THE BIRTH-MARK 1843

RAPPACCINI’S DAUGHTER - FROM THE WRITINGS OF AUBÉPINE 1844

PREFACES - FROM “THE old MANSE” 1846

TO TWICE-TOLD TALES 1851

TO THE SNOW-IMAGE 1852 - To Horatio Bridge, Esq., U.S.N.

 

II - THE SCARLET LETTER 1850

EDITOR’S NOTE

I - THE PRISON-DOOR

II - THE MARKET-PLACE

III - THE RECOGNITION

IV - THE INTERVIEW

V - HESTER AT HER NEEDLE

VI - PEARL

VII - THE GOVERNOR’S HALL

VIII - THE ELF-CHILD AND THE MINISTER

IX - THE LEECH

X - THE LEECH AND HIS PATIENT

XI - THE INTERIOR OF A HEART

XII - THE MINISTER’S VIGIL

XIII - ANOTHER VIEW OF HESTER

XIV - HESTER AND THE PHYSICIAN

XV - HESTER AND PEARL

XVI - A FOREST WALK

XVII - THE PASTOR AND HIS PARISHIONER

XVIII - A FLOOD OF SUNSHINE

XIX - THE CHILD AT THE BROOK-SIDE

XX - THE MINISTER IN A MAZE

XXI - THE NEW ENGLAND HOLIDAY

XXII - THE PROCESSION

XXIII - THE REVELATION OF THE SCARLET LETTER

XXIV - CONCLUSION

 

III - THE PUBLISHED ROMANCES 1851-1860

EDITOR’S NOTE

FROM THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES 1851

FROM THE BLITHEDALE ROMANCE 1852

FROM THE MARBLE FAUN 1860

 

IV - THE EUROPEAN JOURNALS 1853-1860

EDITOR’S NOTE

FROM THE ENGLISH, FRENCH, AND ITALIAN JOURNALS

 

V - THE LAST YEARS 1860-1864

EDITOR’S NOTE

PASSAGES FROM THE LETTERS AND THE UNFINISHED ROMANCES

 

Suggestions for Further Reading

THE PORTABLE HAWTHORNE

Best known today for his enigmatic tales and the short novel called The Scarlet Letter, NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE was born in Salem, Massachusetts, at the dawn of the nineteenth century. After graduating from Bowdoin College, in 1825, he published his first romance, Fanshawe, and, when that failed, turned to writing short stories and prose sketches that, over the next two decades, gradually made him known in America and England. The Scarlet Letter appeared in 1850, followed soon after by The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance, each of which increased his international renown. The next seven years he spent with his family in Europe, first as U.S. consul in Liverpool, then as a resident tourist on the Continent. Just prior to the publication of The Marble Faun, his last completed romance, he returned to his home in Concord, Massachusetts, where he spent the remaining four years of his life preparing excerpts from his English journals for publication while trying, unsuccessfully, to finish two more romances, based in part on his years in Europe. After a period of declining health, he died before his sixtieth birthday, while traveling in New Hampshire with his old college friend Franklin Pierce.

 

WILLIAM c. SPENGEMANN is the Hale Professor in Arts and Sciences and Professor of English Emeritus at Dartmouth College. His books include Mark Twain and the Backwoods Angel, The Adventurous Muse, The Forms of Autobiography, A Mirror for Americanists, and A New World of Words. He is also the editor of three Penguin Classics: Henry James’s The American, Herman Melville’s Pierre, and, with Jessica F. Roberts, Nineteenth Century American Poetry.

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This edition first published in Penguin Books 2005

 

 

Selection, introduction and notes copyright © Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2005

All rights reserved

 

The text of the selections in this book is that established by The Centenary Edition of the Works of
Nathaniel Hawthorne published by the Ohio State University Center for Textual Studies and Ohio State
University Press. The selections are from the volumes entitled The Scarlet Letter, The House of the
Seven Gables, The Blithedale Romance and Fanshawe, The Marble Faun, The American Notebooks,
Twice-Told Tales, Mosses from an Old Manse, The Snow Image and Uncollected Tales, The American
Claimant Manuscripts, The French and Italian Notebooks, The Letters 1857-1864, The English
Notebooks 1853-1856, and The English Notebooks 1856-1860. Copyright © 1962, 1964, 1965,
1968, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1987, 1997 by Ohio State University Press. All rights reserved.

 

Illustrations from Portraits of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Rita K. Gollin,
Northern Illinois University Press, 1983.

 

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING IN PUBLICATION DATA
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864.
[Selections. 2005]
The portable Hawthorne / edited with an introduction by William C. Spengemann.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ).

eISBN : 978-1-101-01042-6

I. Spengemann, William C. II. Title.

 

PS1852.S66 2005
813’.3—dc22 2004065791

 

 

 

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Introduction

Hawthorne’s autobiographical preface to Mosses from an Old Manse, ambiguously subtitled “The Author Makes the Reader Acquainted with His Abode,” opens with the following paragraph:

Between two tall gate-posts of rough-hewn stone, (the gate itself having fallen from its hinges, at some unknown epoch,) we beheld the gray front of the old parsonage, terminating the vista of an avenue of black-ash trees. It was now a twelvemonth since the funeral procession of the venerable clergyman, its last inhabitant, had turned from that gate-way towards the village burying-ground. The wheel-track, leading to the door, as well as the whole breadth of the avenue, was almost overgrown with grass, affording dainty mouthfuls to two or three vagrant cows, and an old white horse, who had his own living to pick up along the roadside. The glimmering shadows, that lay half-asleep between the door of the house and the public highway, were a kind of spiritual medium, seen through which, the edifice had not quite the aspect of belonging to the material world. Certainly it had little in common with those ordinary abodes, which stand so imminent upon the road that every passer-by can thrust his head, as it were, into the domestic circle. From these quiet windows, the figures of passing travellers looked too remote and dim to disturb the sense of privacy. In its near retirement, and accessible seclusion, it was the very spot for the residence of a clergyman; a man not estranged from human life, yet enveloped, in the midst of it, with a veil woven of intermingled gloom and brightness. It was worthy to have been one of the time-honored parsonages of England, in which, through many generations, a succession of holy occupants pass from youth to age, and bequeath each an inheritance of sanctity to pervade the house and hover over it, as with an atmosphere.

As a way of introducing his subject, the old parsonage in Concord, Massachusetts, where he and Sophia went to live following their marriage, the passage seems fairly routine. Looked at closely, however, it can be seen to begin and end in quite different situations and stylistic keys. In the first three sentences, the speaker stands, alongside one or more unnamed companions, at the entry to the cart path that leads away toward the house, off in the distance. What he sees from this vantage point—gateposts, some trees, two or three cows, an old horse—might be seen by anyone who stood beside him, as, indeed, the reader is invited to do. The objects named are what the speaker says they are, nothing more. They do not ask to be taken, the way things in Hawthorne’s stories and notebooks so often do, as “emblematic of something.”

By the sixth sentence, however, the speaker’s situation has changed. Somehow, he has moved inside the house. Now seemingly alone, he looks out the front windows, back at the public highway, where he stood just moments before. Out there, he sees some “passing travellers.” Are they his former companions? Is he, perhaps, still standing among them, still looking up the driveway at the “gray front” of the house? He does seem to be a rather different person now: talking to himself, rather than to the reader, and pondering such meanings as might lie hidden in his new “abode,” or be lent to it, instead of describing its appearance. At first, the house sat before the speaker’s eyes. Now it seems to lie inside his head—to be his head, in fact, its windows his eyes. Out on the road, in the “material world,” gateposts were just gateposts. Here in this dusky interior, removed as it is from “ordinary” existence by “the glimmering shadows” in the middle distance, everything seems “emblematic of something” immaterial, although what that “something” might be in a case like that “veil woven of intermingled gloom and brightness” would not be easy to say.

What we have here are two very different ways of writing: one that Hawthorne called “the style of a man of society” and one he called “the talk of a secluded man with his own mind and heart.” The former style, he explains in another preface, “has none of the abstruseness of idea, or obscurity of expression” that suffuses the secluded style. Writings of this open, public sort may be imbued with an atmosphere of the “moral picturesque” or touched here and there with a gentle irony, but they “never need translation” into more explicit terms. On the contrary, anything written in this outgoing style “may be understood and felt by anyone who will give himself the trouble to read it.”

Those who trouble to read Hawthorne’s writings in his esoteric style, however, have their work cut out for them. Obscurely figurative, rather than transparently literal, these “written communications of a solitary mind with itself” always “need translation” into plain language. Seeming always to mean something else, they fairly beg to be interpreted, although no interpretation ever manages, quite, to empty them of meaning.

Attempts at translation are always worthwhile, though, for of the two styles this one has the potential to be “profound” and hence to become “deeply and permanently valuable.” What Hawthorne called his “photographic” style might serve “to open an intercourse with the world,” but only his “thoughtful or imaginative” style would do for a writer who, like himself, is “burrowing to his utmost ability into the depths of our common nature . . . and who pursues his researches in that dusky region, as he needs must, as well by the tact of sympathy as by the light of observation.”

These two very different voices might be said to bespeak two different “Hawthornes”: the one known to his family and friends, and one that, except as “shadowed forth” in his emblematic fictions, remained hidden from all inquiring eyes, even, it seems, from his own. One of his acquaintances doubtless spoke for many others when he confessed, “I love Hawthorne. I admire him; but I do not know him. He lives in a mysterious world of thought and imagination which he never permits me to enter.” Hawthorne felt this division in himself no less sharply. In a letter written before their marriage, he told Sophia his idea of recording a single day, first, in his “external” life and then in his “inward” life. “Nobody,” he said, “would think that the same man could live two such different lives simultaneously.”

Had he written those parallel diaries for Sophia, he would have had to use for the first his public style and for the second his private, emblematic style. All “talk about his external habits . . . and other matters entirely upon the surface,” he insisted, “hide the man instead of displaying him.” Anyone at all curious to learn anything “essential” about him “must make quite another sort of inquest, and look through the whole range of his [imagined] characters, good and evil.”

Those who did seek him there often found the view disturbing. When his son, Julian, grew old enough to read the tales, he could not recognize in them the man he had known as his father. Even Hawthorne himself sometimes found that persona strange. Looking over the tales he had chosen for one of his collections, he told his publisher, “My past self is not very much to my taste, as I see it in this book.” He must have known at the time, he supposed, what the tales were intended to mean; but reading them now, through the outward-looking eyes of the “man of society,” he could neither recall what that was nor recover it from the words on the printed page.

Two styles—one transparently circumstantial, the other enigmatically portentous—bespeaking two Hawthornes, the first a popular journalist, the second a withdrawn poet: in the light of this duality, his whole career can be traced, from Fanshawe, his first known publication, to Our Old Home, the last of his writings he saw in print, and the excerpts from an unfinished, unfinishable work that appeared under the title “Scenes from ‘The Dolliver Romance,’ ” shortly after his death. When the career is surveyed in these terms, a number of critical issues come into somewhat clearer focus: his reasons for suppressing Fanshawe; the differences among the one hundred or so short pieces he published in periodicals between 1830, when he took up that form, and 1852, when he abandoned it; the unmatched power of The Scarlet Letter; the dissipation of that force in the romances he published thereafter; the abrupt change in his notebooks and journals, beginning around 1850; and his inability to finish another romance after The Marble Fau...

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