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by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Furnas Press
  • Publishing date: 20080228
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9781408618998
  • ISBN: 1408618990


MAIN STRRET - 1901 - PREFACE - IT WAS OIIC of the early literary projects of Nathnnicl Hawthornc to put life into the dead body of New England historical annals, How lifeless those annals were we may discover by hunting them up on the dust-covered shelves of antiquarian libraries and the cnterprise of endowing them with bloom and fragrance would seein as hopeless an one as could be proposed to a literary man. But Hawthornc possessed creative genius, and that made all the difference. He himself was able to see through the veil of the printed page of the old annalist, and to behold risiug before his imaginative vision, the world and the personages that had been, warm with life and glowing with color and passion. This vision he aimed to con municate, b y the art of lucid and vivid portrayal and suggestion, in which he has had no superior, to his fellow citizens by this beneficent spell he wrought upon them to make the acquaintance of their own past. It was in work of this kind, having this tendency, that the foundation of his genius first declared itself and it is not unlikely that, for several ycars, Hawthorne cherished the purpose of covering the elltire historical ground of New England in this manner. And although the attraction towards purely imaginative work, especially in the creation of character, became too strong for him to resist it, yet it will be noticed that even in his famous romances-The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Blithedale Romance, and, at the end of his life, in the posthumous stories of Septimius and The Dolliver Romance, he uniformly kept very close to a historical background and basis and the characters were carefully modelled to be in heping with the historical period. These hooks might be regarded as historical illustrations, in somewhat the same sense that the volumes of Balzacs Comedie Humaine illustrate the social aspects of Paris and France, though, of course, with less realistic attention to detail. But, in addition to these, there are many short pieces which are technically historical both in character and episode, though illuminated, as has been said, by the power of seeing the past as present which distinguished the author. Were all these pieces to be collected, and chronologically arranged, they would be found to comprise no small part of New England history during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Probably no better example of the kind of work under discussion could be selected than the little narrative which is contained in this volume. It was written before Hawthorne had attained an international reputation, and is concerned with the progress of civilization in the region which gave him birth-the venerable town of Salern, in Rfaseachusetts. The books upon the subject which were published at the time Hawthorne wrote, were few, and their contents were dry and unattractive to the last degree very likely they were supplemented by traditions and tales handed down from generation to generation, which had come to his knowledge when, as a boy, he sat by the broad hearthstone of his old-fashioned home, and listened to legends and accounts of personal experience from the mouths of the old men and women of that day, now seventy or eighty years gone by. Hawthorne was born in 1804 and the memories of those who were old when he was young, went back nearly to the beginning of the previous century, and mere re-enforced by lore derived from their own forbears, which extended to the early years of the New England settlement. The mind of the boy was fertile soil, and in due season it reproduced what seeds had been dropped into it, rich and sumptuous with a new life...

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