One of Hawthorne's great romances, The Blithedale Romance draws upon the author's experiences at Brook Farm, the short-lived utopian community where Hawthorne spent much of 1841. Blithedale ("Happy Valley"), another would-be modern Arcadia, is the stage for Hawthorne's grimly comic tragedy (Henry James famously called the novel "the lightest, the brightest, the liveliest" of Hawthorne's "unhumorous fictions"). In his introduction, Robert S. Levine considers biographical and historical contexts and offers a fresh appreciation of the novel's ironic first-person narrator. The John Harvard Library edition reproduces the authoritative text to The Blithedale Romance in The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Since 1959 The John Harvard Library has been instrumental in publishing essential American writings in authoritative editions.
About the Author
John Updike's most recent books include the novel Gertrude and Claudius and a collection of critical essays, More Matter. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Book Award, the O. Henry Prize, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and two Pulitzer prizes. He lives in Massachusetts.
Date of Birth:July 4, 1804
Date of Death:May 19, 1864
Place of Birth:Salem, Massachusetts
Place of Death:Plymouth, New Hampshire
Education:Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824
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I Old Moodie
Excerpted from "The Blithedale Romance"
Copyright © 1983 Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
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Table of Contents
Introduction Robert S. Levine ix
Note on the Text xxxi
Chronology of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Life xxxiii
The Blithedale Romance
I Old Moodie 5
II Blithedale 9
III A Knot of Dreamers 14
IV The Supper-Table 23
V Until Bedtime 32
VI Coverdale's Sick-Chamber 39
VII The Convalescent 49
VIII A Modern Arcadia 58
IX Hollingsworth, Zenobia, Priscilla 69
X A Visitor from Town 81
XI The Wood-Path 89
XII Coverdale's Hermitage 98
XIII Zenobia's Legend 106
XIV Eliot's Pulpit 117
XV A Crisis 128
XVI Leave-Takings 137
XVII The Hotel 145
XVIII The Boarding-House 153
XIX Zenobia's Drawing-Room 160
XX They Vanish 168
XXI An Old Acquaintance 174
XXII Fauntleroy 182
XXIII A Village-Hall 194
XXIV The Masqueraders 204
XXV The Three Together 213
XXVI Zenobia and Coverdale 222
XXVII Midnight 229
XXVIII Blithedale-Pasture 238
XXIX Miles Coverdale's Confession 245
Selected Bibliography 249
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hawthorne likes to write about society versus the individual In this book, a group of people decide to isolate themselves from society and establish their own eutopia. It leads to interesting results. Out of three Hawthorne books I've read (the other's being THe Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables), this is my favorite. It is covered with subtle humor. I really like Nathaniel Hawthorne and found myself really drawn into this story.
Story of a group of town men and women that decided to go work at a farm and live the simple life. Twist in the relationship of the leading women. Narrator seems to be a rather boring yet nosy poet. Surprise ending. Great last line.
After reading ¿The Scarlet Letter¿ years ago in school, and now ¿The House of Seven Gables¿ and ¿The Blithedale Romance¿ in relatively close conjunction, there seems to be a common theme running throughout much of Hawthorne¿s longer fiction: namely, the deep and abiding mistrust in ideas of utopia, progress or perfectibility, especially of the human kind. Hawthorne came from a long line of Puritans, one of whom even presided over some of the Salem witch trials. Now writing on the cusp of the Civil War, he feels the renewed need for the kind of pragmatic skepticism which, one generation later, an entire generation of American philosophers will call for.Coverdale, the naïve narrator in search of an agrarian source of truth, discovers Blithedale (the name itself should set off bells of suspicion), a community built around the ideals of Fourier, the utopian French social theorist. Fourier thought that life could be optimized through a kind of rationalistic social engineering, the basic living unit of which he called the ¿phalanstere.¿ The hilarious (hilarious in that subtle, dowdy, Puritan way that was uniquely Hawthorne¿s) part is that, once everyone in Blithedale is introduced into the mix, tensions, different ideas, passions, and ideologies start to bubble to the surface showing just what a pipedream Fourier¿s utopia really is. Hawthorne¿s point seems to be that holding rationality primary over contingency and human emotion is shortsighted and silly. Not only is Blithedale a folly, but the very idea of a utopia is a sheer impossibility. I¿m sure that Hawthorne would have us remember the clever lesson from Thomas More¿s ¿Utopia¿ ¿ that it means, quite literally, ¿no place.¿ I¿ll forego a lot of the plot details because I read this several months ago, and wouldn¿t be able to do them justice without re-reading it. What I have unpacked here is just what jumped out at me the most. There is a strange woman named Zenobia who always wears a fresh flower in her hair, who turns out being the half-sister of a Blithedale foundling named Priscilla. The novel culminates in a set of philosophical disagreements between Coverdale and Hollingsworth, the ironically patriarchal figure whose presence hangs over Blithedale. I found the plot somewhat contrived and unrealistic, even for Hawthorne, but still very much worthwhile. The action is based on Hawthorne¿s experiences at Brook Farm, a well-known utopian community in its own right, where he spent most of 1841, largely in an effort to save money for his marriage. He would marry Sophia Peabody (of the famous Peabody sisters) in July of the next year.
One of the worst novels I've read in a while- the plot is contrived, the prose is overdone, characters not as interesting as first appeared, etc. I expected the utopian community angle would make it intersting, but it doesn't play a very central part in the plot (or I didn't think so). At least it was short ...