The Blithedale Romance

The Blithedale Romance


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140390285
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/28/1983
Series: Penguin Classics Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 300,699
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Michael J. Colacurcio is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles.

M. Luke Bresky is Associate Professor of English at St. Mary’s University, Calgary, Alberta.

Date of Birth:

July 4, 1804

Date of Death:

May 19, 1864

Place of Birth:

Salem, Massachusetts

Place of Death:

Plymouth, New Hampshire


Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824

Read an Excerpt

I Old Moodie

Excerpted from "The Blithedale Romance"
by .
Copyright © 1983 Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction Robert S. Levine ix

Note on the Text xxxi

Chronology of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Life xxxiii

The Blithedale Romance

Preface 1

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

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The Blithedale Romance 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
autumnesf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
aulsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite Hawthorne. A roman a clef about Brook Farm, the failed Transcendental communal experiment.
kant1066 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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.
belgrade18 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
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 ...
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