Blithedale_I - Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804­1864 Nathaniel...

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Unformatted text preview: Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804­1864 Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804­1864 Fervor for Reform, Self­Culture, Activism (Emerson, Thoreau, Douglass, Stowe) v. Skepticism, Irony—emphasis on the difference between what appears and what is (Melville, Hawthorne) Absurd: ridiculously unreasonable; the word is suggestive of the idea that there is no order or meaning in life Charles Fourier, French political theorist who promoted a socialist lifestyle organized around self­governing communities of 1,600 persons, called “phalansteries” I. Romance and Reality I. Romance and Reality romance: For Hawthorne, the term “romance” implied a literary form that did not stick to the actual facts of history or contemporary society but nonetheless respected “the truths of the human heart.” Hawthorne’s romances often became laboratories for the study of human emotion, earning him the reputation of an innovator in “psychological realism”—a form of realism that focuses on internal action (characters’ motives, etc.) rather than external action. In the old countries, with which fiction has long been In the old countries, with which fiction has long been conversant, a certain conventional privilege seems to be awarded to the romancer; his work is not put exactly side by side with nature; and he is allowed a license with regard to every­day probability, in view of the improved effects which he is bound to produce thereby. Among ourselves, on the contrary, there is as yet no such Faery Land, so like the real world, that, in a suitable remoteness, one cannot well tell the difference, but with an atmosphere of strange enchantment, beheld through which the inhabitants have a propriety of their own. This atmosphere is what the American romancer needs. (Preface, x) Margaret Fuller, 1810­1850 Margaret Fuller, 1810­1850 II. Brook Farm: Performing the II. Brook Farm: Performing the Pastoral Brook Farm: one of many associationist communities that grew up in the 1840s, based in ideas of social progress (such as the reform of class and gender inequalities) and resistance to industrial capitalism (through communal property ownership and shared, voluntary labor). Brook Farm hosted many prominent members, including Hawthorne and the feminist Margaret Fuller, said to be a model for “Zenobia.” Utopia: derived from the Greek eutopia (meaning “good place”) and outopia (meaning “no place”) We all sat down,­­grisly Silas Foster, his rotund We all sat down,­­grisly Silas Foster, his rotund helpmate, and the two bouncing handmaidens, included,­­and looked at one another in a friendly but rather awkward way. It was the first practical trial of our theories of equal brotherhood and sisterhood; and we people of superior cultivation and refinement (for as such, I presume, we unhesitatingly reckoned ourselves) felt as if something were already accomplished toward this millennium of love. The truth is, however, that the laboring­oar was with our unpolished companions; it being far easier to condescend than to accept of condescension. (13) III. Sympathy III. Sympathy Sympathy: an understanding that passes beyond words, thought to be made possible by the “moral imagination,” which allows us to “place ourselves in the situation of our brother on the rack, …[to] enter, as it were, into his body” (Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759) Seal of Massachusetts Bay Colony Seal of Massachusetts Bay Colony It is not, I apprehend, a healthy kind of mental It is not, I apprehend, a healthy kind of mental occupation, to devote ourselves too exclusively to the study of individual men and women. If the person under examination be one’s self, the result is pretty certain to be diseased action of the heart, almost before we can snatch a second glance. Or, if we take the freedom to put a friend under our microscope, we thereby insulate him from many of his true relations, magnify his peculiarities, inevitably tear him into parts, and, of course, patch him very clumsily together again. (42) ...
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