The Essential Hawthorne, The Life, And Works Of Nathaniel Hawthorne

Nathaniel Hawthorne
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While speaking about Nathaniel Hawthorne, I spontaneously remember this quote-

“Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

After Hawthorne died, his widow wife Sophia Hawthorne expressed that none would try to write about him, as no one can know enough how to do it. But sorry Mrs. Hawthorne, your warning is not to be heeded.

For he was the one who penned down the most evergreen, all time 1850 classic, The Scarlet Letter which revealed ageless truths about the tribulations of the human heart. Little did young Nathaniel know that the novel would rise to great heights. Before jumping into the books written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, let us get to know much about his life.

Nathaniel was the son of the captain of a ship (his father’s name was also Nathaniel). His family was proud of their history as they belonged to the early British settlements in New Zealand. For young Nathaniel, his history was both of a pride and shame. Aware well of the boon and the bane, his granddad Daniel Hathorne was a revolutionary war hero. But Nathaniel didn’t find happiness in taking the name of his great granddad John Hathorne as he was a persecutor of the Salem witches. This provoked Nathaniel to add that extra letter W to his family name, making it Hawthorne. That additional W (woah!) was significant for Nathaniel to keep a distance from his ancestors, I suppose!

Shy and elusive was what his family described him all these years. He was a needle in a haystack and was a brat which was exactly why he got injured while playing cricket and got lame for nearly a year! The injury made him spend his time in solitude and that’s how young Nathaniel got books under his nose all the while.

Thus started the incredible journey of Hawthorne’s writing as he gave birth to many prodigious novels for generations to come ahead.

The Scarlet Letter

I promise you that this book, though about 160 years old, won’t make you snore. This book gave Nathaniel the chance to tell the humankind that every heart, bruised or fine, has a cradle as well as a tomb; cradle which gives birth to the most beautiful as well as the deadly emotions, a tomb in which at last all the remorse and yearning dies. The scarlet letter is about the sad story of Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, her lost lover. Arthur is wrecked in guilt whilst, Roger Chillingworth, husband of Hester desires to seek a revenge. The purpose of the novel was to reveal the hypocrisy of the Puritan communities in the world.

Twice told tales

Reminds me of the dialog- you told that joke twice. And to find a similarity between the book and this dialog, I can say for sure that this book contains short stories that Nathaniel published earlier in small literary journals.

“Must the fleshly hand, and visible frame of man, set its seal to the evil designs of the soul, in order to give them their entire validity against the sinner?” What does this question mean? How does it link with Mr. Smith’s dilemma? Read the tales twice told, and you will know.

Mosses from an Old Manse

Again a beautiful, intimidating short story collection by Hawthorne. This book expresses the real charm of Hawthorne’s writing and encompasses famous stories such as Rappaccini’s daughter, The Birthmark and many more. This book gave him the title The American Shakespeare. Drown yourself for a while in the stories and you will never ever regret!

The Marble Faun

Are you a lover of mysteries and clues? Do you love to solve murders and finding the suspect? Grab The Marble Faun undoubtedly then! It is an intricate novel woven with a murder mystery, filled with romance to the brim which involves three Americans and an Italian. Find out what impact the murder has thrown on the main characters as you slowly swift through the pages.

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Halin Roche

Author: Halin Roche

Halin lives in Mumbai and is an avid reader. She loves to write on all aspects of Literature and storytelling. She is fluent in English, Tamil, Marathi, and Hindi.