Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Blithedale Romance (2)

Nathaniel Hawthorne. 1852. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. 1983. (2)

10-second review: An intellectual woman cannot compete with the stereotypical pretty, clingy and dependent girl.

From Hawthorne’s Preface: “His [the author’s] present concern…is merely to establish a theater, a little removed from the highway of ordinary travel, where the creatures of his brain may play their phantasmagorical antics, without exposing them to too close a comparison with the actual events of real lives.” p. 633. ………. “The greatest obstacle to being heroic, is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one’s self a fool; the truest heroism is, to resist the doubt—and the profoundest wisdom, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed.” p. 640. ………. “…we can never call ourselves regenerated men, till a February northeaster shall be as grateful to us as the softest breeze of June.” p. 641.

“He [Silas Foster, a farmer] greeted us in pretty much the same tone as if he were speaking to his oxen.” p. 647. ………. “Burns was no poet while a farmer, and no farmer while a poet.” p. 689. ………. “We had left…the weary tread-mill of the established system.” p. 648. ………. “The fantasy occurred to me, that Priscilla was some desolate kind of creature, doomed to wander about in snow storms….” p. 655. ………. “The poor fellow [Hollingsworth] had contracted this ungracious habit [of taciturnity] from the intensity with which he contemplated his own ideas and the infrequent sympathy which they met with from his auditors.” p. 662.

Hollingsworth: “I should…say that the most marked trait in my character is an inflexible severity of purpose.” p. 668. ………. Of Hollingsworth: “Such prolonged fiddling upon one string, such multiform presentation of one idea!” p. 680. ………. Zenobia to Coverdale, the narrator: “I have been exposed to a great deal of eye-shot in the few years of my mixing in the world, but never, I think, to precisely such glances as you are in the habit of favoring me with…and yet—or else a woman’s instinct is for once deceived—I cannot reckon you as an admirer.” p. 672.

“How can she [a woman] be happy, after discovering that fate has assigned her but one single event, which she must continue to make the substance of her whole life while a man has his choice of innumerable events.” p. 683. ………. “Persons of marked individuality—crooked sticks, as some of us might be called—are not exactly the easiest to bind up into a faggot.” p. 686. ………. Of Hollingsworth: “…those men who have surrendered themselves to an over-ruling purpose…have no heart, no sympathy, no reason, no conscience.” p. 693.

Comment: Well, you have had a sampling of the characters and some of their interactions. Actually, this is my favorite romance/novel by Hawthorne because, although it has some features of a romance, it is quite realistic and, because it is feminist in spirit, and, therefore, contemporary. I remember when I read it for the first time. I took my time reading. You can’t hurry Hawthorne. I savored it. I savored the language, the ideas. And, yes, the humor. If these quotes appealed to you, I think you might enjoy this romance or novel. I don’t care what the critics call it. I enjoyed it. RayS.

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