Nathaniel Hawthorne (Bloom's Classic Critical Views) by Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

By Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

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Nathaniel Hawthorne (Bloom's Classic Critical Views)

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Since he did not write anything wholly for the pleasure of creative writing, but had moral motives and perfect artistic harmony to consider, he could not have indulged in the spontaneous, passionate effusions which are the substance of so much other fiction. He was obliged to train his mind to reflection and judgment, and therefore he never tasted luxury of any kind. The enjoyment of historical settings in all their charm and richness, rehabilitated for their own sake or for worldly gain; the enjoyment of caricatures of the members of the human family, because they are so often so desperately funny; the enjoyment of realistic pictures of life as it is found, because life as it is found is a more absorbing study than that of geology or chemistry; the enjoyment of redundant scenes of love and intrigue, which flatter the reader like experiences of his own—these things he was not willing to admit to his art—a magic that served his literary palate with still finer food.

It is true that the members of it belonged chiefly to the more advanced schools of religious opinion which Personal 23 transcendentalism had evoked; but what I mean in saying that its radicalism was strictly commercial is, that those who resided there held rigidly the commonly received ideas of marriage and of the family. Of those who made investments in Brook Farm, nearly all lost them; yet all of them, so far as I have heard, continue to regard themselves as amply rewarded by the returns they received in other than pecuniary forms.

To be sure, his large, square manuscript was firmly bound into covers, and the paper was usually of a neutral blue; and when I say that he had little care for his mechanical materials I mean that he had no servile anxiety as to how they looked to another person, for I am convinced that he himself loved his manuscript books. There was a certain air about the titles, which he wrote with a flourish, as compared with the involved minuteness of the rest of the script, and the latter covers every limit of the page in a devoted way.

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