Showing posts from June, 2013

Twice-Told Tales

It is puzzling to me why Twice-Told Tales is passed over for The Scarlet Letter as required/recommended reading in U.S. schools.  I cannot yet compare the contents of the two, having avoided Scarlet Letter this far, but in the context of his other writings such as Blithedale or Seven Gables, Twice-Told Tales strikes me as quintessentially Hawthornesque writing in a more "fun-sized" format.

And Nathaniel Hawthorne, especially in Twice-Told, is more contemporary than he is usually perceived.  Born in Salem, MA, in 1804, he lived the first several years of his post-graduation life in a solitude worthy of a 20th-century existentialist.*  Hawthorne's melancholy outlook, however, is intertwined with his own religious feeling, skepticism of society, the legacy of American history, and the two sides of death: the ugly and the beautiful.  Always in his writing runs this thread of contrast between the Jekyll and Hyde characteristics of the world, in which Hawthorne hesitates to tak…