The Blithedale Romance

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Then when the Something finally happened an amazingly dramatic, horrible scene it did not ring true to the way the character had been presented throughout the story.

The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne

At least not to my way of thinking. I gave it three stars at first but I've dropped it to two, and I won't be reading it again. I thought I would someday since I was a bit distracted while reading, but I've decided apologies to his fans here that I have had quite enough of Hawthorne for one lifetime. View all 4 comments. Dec 25, Richard Derus rated it liked it. Rating: 3. I can't really say I enjoyed it, though I admired it.

The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I thiink I learned a lot from it Hawthorne really? In the author's preface to the book, he is even very careful to state that he is NOT modeling the characters in the book, nor the community that they inhabit, after his own experiences and the people he knew while living in a Utopian community much like the fictional Blithedale of the title.

He goes so far as to say he hopes other specific members of Brook Farm, the real-life communiity Hawthorne lived in during , will write the definitive books about it. He's already done it. And I venture to say, though without any personal experience to back it up, the definitive history of many another Utopia.

I find the American aversion to all things Socialist very curious. Hawthorne defends himself against as-yet-unleveled accusations of beig an apologist for Socialism in choosing to write about Brook Farm at all. It existed from , and it had as little impact on American culture as the other "Socialist" Utopias before it and after it did.

The Blithedale Romance

What precisely does America's vast majority fear? The possibility that others could be helped in some way? What is this reactionary terror of social justice about? Well, it seems that Hawthorne wondered the same thing. He put it inside the struggles of the characters to get their needs met. Conformism is rewarded for flirting with radical thought and then returning to it by gaining a lot of money, access to a comfortable life, and an aura of sanctity that is almost palpable. Americans fear the alternative Hawthorne isn't on board with this, it becomes obvious, though he plays by the rules of his time.

It's an interesting thought experiment to imagine what a Hawthorne born in would have done with this story. I don't think I'd recommend the book to anyone not already accustomed to nineteenth-century writing. It's not the equal of The Scarlet Letter, so it doesn't transcend its era as effortlessly. But for the initiate, this is some excellent storytelling. View 1 comment. This is probably his one work that feels very contemporary, what with the commune setting and the very relevant gender dynamics. The characters are at once stock figures and yet somehow deeply real: Miles, the proto-Nick Carraway; Priscilla, the "light" girl; the monomaniacal Hollingsworth; and, of course, Zenobia, the "dark" woman and ambiguous symbol of feminism.

Hawthorne's mellifluous voice is clearly recognizable here, but I did not like this as much as The Scarlet Letter. Coverdale, as a narrator, is a passive presence and at times is somewhat of a creeper. He is ultimately outside the circle of true action and from his own account, never accomplishes much of anything with his life. The other characters are difficult to get a true fix on due to the unreliability of Coverdale's reportage. There are some insightful psychological observations made, but Hawthorne's mellifluous voice is clearly recognizable here, but I did not like this as much as The Scarlet Letter.

There are some insightful psychological observations made, but my personal opinion is that it is weaker than TSL. Mankind has always had, and will always have, a penchant for utopian dreams of one sort or another. It may be that the frustrations of living in an imperfect world cause some to seek a new way of life, by forming a community of like-minded optimists, to live closer to the earth and pursue common ideals. The Blithedale Romance is a story of such a community -- and a reminder that achieving heaven on earth will always be beyond our reach.


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Nathaniel Hawthorne experienced this setting in real life, Mankind has always had, and will always have, a penchant for utopian dreams of one sort or another. Nathaniel Hawthorne experienced this setting in real life, when he spent a few months as a part of a community called Brook Farm. It seems clear that he was less than enchanted with the venture, which may in part account for the sometimes wry and satirical tone with which he describes Blithedale, the fictional community of his novel.

Some of the twists, as well as the ending, surprised me. And, of course, the 19th century pace of the writing is leisurely, to say the least. The story is both a love triangle, of sorts, and a deep, sometimes stark look into the human psyche. View all 3 comments.

I'd read The Scarlet Letter a few years ago and really enjoyed it so was expecting another strongly delivered story with this offering. Found it difficult to invest in the characters on offer, didn't find the characters or their actions particularly appealing. I did enjoy the glimpses of farming life at Blithedale and appreciated the ideals behind the experimental community and reasons for it's foundation. One of those novels that promises much but doesn't quite deliver.

Read the free kindle editi I'd read The Scarlet Letter a few years ago and really enjoyed it so was expecting another strongly delivered story with this offering. Read the free kindle edition and had no issues overall. Jan 05, Genni rated it really liked it Shelves: classic-literature , re-read. This was my first Hawthorne, and while his writing made me want to read his other books, this particular book left me I don't know.

I finished it with interest, but at the same time, I felt removed.


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  5. Hawthorne begins with a disclaimer: that the events and people were not based on real life. Since everyone knew of his time at Brook Farm a Utopian socialist community , this naturally caused everyone to be especially attuned to how much it WAS based on his time there. Was this just a bit of his rather odd humor? I tend to think it was. His characters are complex caricatures, if that makes sense. When reading, I had to keep reminding myself that Hawthorne was writing in the Romantic period.

    Some of his characters were stock figures of a sort. Priscilla, for instance, the frail, pale, but filled with a spiritual life force slip-of-a-girl.

    The Blithedale Romance

    Hollingsworth represents the Transcendentalist. But he is consumed with a natural, compassionate impulse to the point that it is no longer natural and he alienates almost everyone in his pursuit of his ideal.


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    What makes them complex, though, and one reason I thought so much of Hawthorne's writing, was because of the psychological insights and observations he makes through his characters. The story itself earns two stars only. Was a trite love triangle the only option for fictionalizing his experience?

    Surely not. A redeemable aspect of the story was the narrator. His self-deprecating humor became a bit tiresome toward the end, but it made me snort enough times to raise the story rating from one to two stars. I also think he brings out the strengths and weaknesses of the ideal through this bit of fiction, though he could have been a bit more innovative with the plot??

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    The reason for my four star rating is because of his writing. I loved it. His imagery was poetic, but not overly so, with enough rambling descriptions of nature to make him Romantic, but not enough to make him Transcendental as far as I understand Transcendentalism. An example: "A wild grapevine, of unusual size and luxuriance, had twined and twisted itself up into a tree, and, after wreathing the entanglement of its tendrils around almost every bough, had caught hold of three or four neighboring trees, and married the whole clump with a perfectly inextricable knot of polygamy.

    Also, perfect symbolism. This made me wonder what it was about his writing that I really enjoyed. And I suppose this topic has been discussed to death, but still, here are my thoughts from this particular reading experience. Leonard Bernstein once talked about what made Beethoven great using his Fifth Symphony as an example.

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    His rhythyms, harmonies, and melodies were absolutely ordinary. What made him great?

    The Blithedale Romance

    He knew exactly which note should follow another. I guess this is how I felt about Hawthorne. He knew exactly which word should follow another. If The Scarlet Letter is the zenith of his work, I cannot wait to read it.