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A Dama Velada

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Abjuring the city for a pastoral life, a group of utopians set out to reform a dissipated America. But the group is a powerful mix of competing ambitions and its idealism finds little satisfaction in farmwork. Instead, of changing the world, the members of the Blithedale community individually pursue egotistical paths that ultimately lead to tragedy. Hawthorne's tale both Abjuring the city for a pastoral life, a group of utopians set out to reform a dissipated America. But the group is a powerful mix of competing ambitions and its idealism finds little satisfaction in farmwork. Instead, of changing the world, the members of the Blithedale community individually pursue egotistical paths that ultimately lead to tragedy. Hawthorne's tale both mourns and satirizes a rural idyll not unlike that of nineteenth-century America at large. About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Abjuring the city for a pastoral life, a group of utopians set out to reform a dissipated America. But the group is a powerful mix of competing ambitions and its idealism finds little satisfaction in farmwork. Instead, of changing the world, the members of the Blithedale community individually pursue egotistical paths that ultimately lead to tragedy. Hawthorne's tale both Abjuring the city for a pastoral life, a group of utopians set out to reform a dissipated America. But the group is a powerful mix of competing ambitions and its idealism finds little satisfaction in farmwork. Instead, of changing the world, the members of the Blithedale community individually pursue egotistical paths that ultimately lead to tragedy. Hawthorne's tale both mourns and satirizes a rural idyll not unlike that of nineteenth-century America at large. About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

30 review for A Dama Velada

  1. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Zapata

    I usually start my book selections without reading about them or about the authors, but this time I read the Wiki entry for Nathaniel Hawthorne before beginning The Blithedale Romance. I cannot decide if that was a good idea or a spoiler. This book was based on his own short time spent in the utopian community known as Brook Farm, but when I read the article about his life and a separate article about the community, I was surprised to see that he did not believe in the enterprise, he had simply I usually start my book selections without reading about them or about the authors, but this time I read the Wiki entry for Nathaniel Hawthorne before beginning The Blithedale Romance. I cannot decide if that was a good idea or a spoiler. This book was based on his own short time spent in the utopian community known as Brook Farm, but when I read the article about his life and a separate article about the community, I was surprised to see that he did not believe in the enterprise, he had simply hoped that living there would be a way to save money so he could get married. So that explained the main character's lack of true enthusiasm for his new life at Blithedale, and the bitter somberness of the entire story. Our poet narrator Coverdale is a young man from the city who decides he can change the world by joining with like-minded individuals at a rural farm. Only he never truly believes in the project, makes sarcastic remarks about the other members, their beliefs, even himself throughout the story; and is generally a cruel and unlikable wolf in sheep's clothing.He also becomes quite obsessed with the two main female characters, Zenobia and Priscilla. His friend Hollingsworth is not even as likable as Coverdale, and he is obsessed with the idea of creating his own projects, insisting on trying to convince everyone around him to help him achieve his goals. There is a mystery about the identities of the two women, hints about someone known as The Veiled Lady; and an old man we meet in the very first paragraphs when he is bluntly snubbed by our man Coverdale. It seems the old man needed a favor but Coverdale felt it would be too much trouble to himself to grant the request. Perhaps if he had, the entire story would have turned out differently. Certainly this old man plays a most important role later. At first, even with my irritation with the main characters and Hawthorne himself, I was quite caught up in the story. The tension builds quickly; I could tell Something Was About To Happen. But it never did....everything fizzles for a bit, and the chapter that explains the old man's history reads like something from a different book entirely. 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. 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.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 3.25* of five I read this as part of the RL book circle's festivities. I can't really say I enjoyed it, though I admired it. I thiink I learned a lot from it...for example, there is no new idea anywhere under the sun. Hawthorne (really? no touchstone for Hawthorne?!) wrote of such familiar characters to any modern reader, the creepy pseudo-spiritual control freak, the conflicted feminist, the wishy-washy eternal follower, that it really feels like the book could have been written yesterda Rating: 3.25* of five I read this as part of the RL book circle's festivities. I can't really say I enjoyed it, though I admired it. I thiink I learned a lot from it...for example, there is no new idea anywhere under the sun. Hawthorne (really? no touchstone for Hawthorne?!) wrote of such familiar characters to any modern reader, the creepy pseudo-spiritual control freak, the conflicted feminist, the wishy-washy eternal follower, that it really feels like the book could have been written yesterday. 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 1841-1842, will write the definitive books about it. Ha. 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 1841-1847, and it had as little impact on American culture as the other "Socialist" Utopias before it and after it did. 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...shunning and criticism and poverty...so they see the radical and just readjustment of society's power (aka money) as a threat instead of a basic benefit. 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 1904 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

    Flat out my favorite Hawthorne, though I end up teaching THE SCARLET LETTER a lot more. 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. Part of what makes this one fun is that you Flat out my favorite Hawthorne, though I end up teaching THE SCARLET LETTER a lot more. 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. Part of what makes this one fun is that you can debate the actions of these people in ways you really can't with SCARLET or SEVEN GABLES.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Newton

    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. 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 my personal opinion is that it is weaker than TSL.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David Huff

    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. 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. 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. 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. This is an occasionally dark and unusual story of 4 main characters whose lives intersect at Blithedale: Miles Coverdale, the intensely observant narrator; Zenobia, the tempestuous and mysterious feminist of sorts; her younger half-sister Priscilla, whom Coverdale compares to “a leaf in the wind”, and Hollingsworth, an idealist and philanthropist, who is loved by both women. 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. But the story is easy to follow, and Hawthorne’s beautifully turned and insightful phrases are everywhere. The story is both a love triangle, of sorts, and a deep, sometimes stark look into the human psyche. I’ll never see a flower in a woman’s hair without thinking of Zenobia, and while this novel was different that I expected, I’m glad I experienced it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cphe

    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. 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 edition and had no issues overall.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Genni

    *This review contains some spoilers* Well, this was an odd piece of work. 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. 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 attune *This review contains some spoilers* Well, this was an odd piece of work. 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. 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. 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. 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?? 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." Nice. 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. His rhythyms, harmonies, and melodies were absolutely ordinary. What made him great? 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lbsantini

    The more I read Hawthorne, the more I like him--the person I believe him to have been. He has a nice bite, as evidenced by the following passage, narrated by Coverdale (who is equated with Hawthorne)that made me cackle aloud: "While our enterprise lay all in theory, we had pleased ourselves with the delectable visions of the spiritualization of labor. It was to be our form of prayer and ceremonial worship. Each stroke of the hoe was to uncover some aromatic root of wisdom, heretofore hidden from The more I read Hawthorne, the more I like him--the person I believe him to have been. He has a nice bite, as evidenced by the following passage, narrated by Coverdale (who is equated with Hawthorne)that made me cackle aloud: "While our enterprise lay all in theory, we had pleased ourselves with the delectable visions of the spiritualization of labor. It was to be our form of prayer and ceremonial worship. Each stroke of the hoe was to uncover some aromatic root of wisdom, heretofore hidden from the sun. Pausing in the field, to let the wind exhale the moisture of our foreheads, we were to look upward and catch glimpses into the far off soul of truth. In this point of view, matters did not turn out quite so well as we had anticipated." At Brook Farm, a collective and model for Blithedale, Hawthorne endeavored to find a community of like-minded persons: a place where he could both work, provide for a family, and tend to his writing. As I know many of my contemporaries and I do, he found that the writing life can suffer in relationship to the work that is providing a steady income or reliable means. After ten days at the farm, he writes: "It is an endless surprise to me how much work there is to be done in the world." A familiar feeling that and one I find refreshing to know someone as accomplished as Hawthorne struggled against.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Terris

    I just didn't like this at all. I am not a Hawthorne fan overall, so I just forced myself to finish this :/

  10. 4 out of 5

    John David

    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 Civ 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.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg. Page 5: The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism is to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed. Page 29: "When, as a consequence of human improvement," said I, "the globe shall arrive at its final perfection, the great ocean is to be converted into a particular kind of lemonade, such as was fashionable at Free download available at Project Gutenberg. Page 5: The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism is to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed. Page 29: "When, as a consequence of human improvement," said I, "the globe shall arrive at its final perfection, the great ocean is to be converted into a particular kind of lemonade, such as was fashionable at Paris in Fourier's time. He calls it limonade a cedre. It is positively a fact! Just imagine the city docks filled, every day, with a flood tide of this delectable beverage!" Page 92: But a great man—as, perhaps, you do not know—attains his normal condition only through the inspiration of one great idea. 5* The Scarlet Letter 4* Rappaccini's Daughter 3* Wakefield ; Ethan Brand 3* Wakefield - Il velo nero del pastore 3* The Ambitious Guest 3* The Blithedale Romance TBR The House of the Seven Gables TBR The Marble Faun TBR Fanshawe

  12. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    I loved the prose style and the ambiguity of Miles Coverdale, the narrator, who is aptly named. The narrative arc is not atypical of romance, but the novel turns out to be more of a psychological portrait of Coverdale than a finely polished example of the genre. I started the book with the idea that it would be a comment on the Brook Farm commune popularized by 19th century American transcendentalism, and maybe it is in a very subtle way, but I found myself stretching to make a finding on that c I loved the prose style and the ambiguity of Miles Coverdale, the narrator, who is aptly named. The narrative arc is not atypical of romance, but the novel turns out to be more of a psychological portrait of Coverdale than a finely polished example of the genre. I started the book with the idea that it would be a comment on the Brook Farm commune popularized by 19th century American transcendentalism, and maybe it is in a very subtle way, but I found myself stretching to make a finding on that count. I enjoyed it nevertheless.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    the three stars are all for the consummate writing skill that hawthorne commands, but with this novel i've come to realize i don't really like his novels. i like his short stories, and i think he was attracted to that form, in his time a new one that he helped define in the US, because i feel he chafed against the conventions of the novel in his day. as with what i experienced in reading the house of the seven gables, the prose of the blithedale romance is dense, molasses thick, and while artful the three stars are all for the consummate writing skill that hawthorne commands, but with this novel i've come to realize i don't really like his novels. i like his short stories, and i think he was attracted to that form, in his time a new one that he helped define in the US, because i feel he chafed against the conventions of the novel in his day. as with what i experienced in reading the house of the seven gables, the prose of the blithedale romance is dense, molasses thick, and while artful, a strain to my attention span. even when the characters dialogue, it is work because their conversations are peppered with so much contemporary content without being contextualized -- the stuff about fournier here required more than any footnote provided in my edition, for example, i had to go do some serious research to understand the protagonist's allusion to him -- all he mentions is turning water into lemonade, not fournier's attitude toward open sexytimes which is what the other character hollingsworth, a religious conservative, is ostensibly responding to... i have to read all these words, and then do all this research to understand them? it made my brain hurt, but not in a good way. and while i was happy to finally read about zenobia, a character name that has long haunted me, in the end, i just found it all very tiring. so i will continue to admire the hell out of hawthorne's abilities as a writer, and love his short stories, but i don't think i'm going to go out of my way to read any more of his novels. i think i'm too modern, and too impatient for them.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Although the most singular thing about the book is its setting in, and critique of, a New England Transcendentalist utopian community of the mid-19th century, of just the sort Hawthorne was briefly associated with, it is also very much a somewhat melodramatic story typical of its era, with misplaced love, misunderstood parentage and other such confusions which are gradually revealed. Not that the portrayal of middle-class idealists who don't know which way to hold a hoe trying to get "back to th Although the most singular thing about the book is its setting in, and critique of, a New England Transcendentalist utopian community of the mid-19th century, of just the sort Hawthorne was briefly associated with, it is also very much a somewhat melodramatic story typical of its era, with misplaced love, misunderstood parentage and other such confusions which are gradually revealed. Not that the portrayal of middle-class idealists who don't know which way to hold a hoe trying to get "back to the land" is anything other than still perfectly relevant! The importance of not confusing the narrator with the author is also key, unless we are to remember Hawthorne as a pompous fool who misunderstood the motivations of everyone around him - probably not his intent, as the portrayal of such a self-satisfied narrator is one of the formal innovations that has made the book significant.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bryan

    In The Blithedale Romance, a young Miles Coverdale joins a transcendentalist, socialist-style farm at Blithedale, hoping to create a kind of modern Utopia. There he meets with characters who he observes throughout the narrative as the course of their lives are taken up with grandiose schemes of reform and redemption, and whose emotional entanglements eventually lead to tragedy. I can't say that I was very affected by the book--I was in a hurry for it to be over. Whether it made a difference or no In The Blithedale Romance, a young Miles Coverdale joins a transcendentalist, socialist-style farm at Blithedale, hoping to create a kind of modern Utopia. There he meets with characters who he observes throughout the narrative as the course of their lives are taken up with grandiose schemes of reform and redemption, and whose emotional entanglements eventually lead to tragedy. I can't say that I was very affected by the book--I was in a hurry for it to be over. Whether it made a difference or no, I listened to an audio version of the book, and I never warmed to the narrator's voice (Jonathan Fried) I may have had a different opinion of the book had I read it myself, but Hawthorne's descriptions were often interminable, with little to do with the main thrust of the story. As vignettes, they would have been pleasant, but overall, they made me very impatient, even though I'd consider my tolerance of descriptive passages to be fairly high. These two objections made it difficult to concentrate on any of the psychological subtext that Hawthorne may have been attempting here. I have no doubt that, if someone were to be especially receptive to Hawthorne's style, they would have seen several layers to the story, and may have been particularly impacted by it. Perhaps because of the delivery, or perhaps because I'm not attuned to Hawthorne's writing, but in either case, I never really cared to look much further than superficially. I do know that when and if I ever try reading Hawthorne again, I'll stick to the printed page.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Edward

    This novel made me think of Shakespeare's so-called "problem plays" with their uneasy mixture of light and dark themes . Hawthorne's third novel mixes satiric and tragic moods and they don't fully merge either. Here, the narrator, Miles Coverdale, a self-satisfied bachelor who likes his comfort and his drinks, sets out on a summer's sojourn to Blithedale, a back-to-the-land commune. But he can quickly become serious, looking forward to getting away from the "falsehood,, formality, and error, lik This novel made me think of Shakespeare's so-called "problem plays" with their uneasy mixture of light and dark themes . Hawthorne's third novel mixes satiric and tragic moods and they don't fully merge either. Here, the narrator, Miles Coverdale, a self-satisfied bachelor who likes his comfort and his drinks, sets out on a summer's sojourn to Blithedale, a back-to-the-land commune. But he can quickly become serious, looking forward to getting away from the "falsehood,, formality, and error, like all the air of the dusky city" What does he expect to find? He's open-minded and mildly hopeful that this possible daydream of a better life might become a reality. At Blithedale, he meets an odd group of people. three in particular who become the central figures in the novel. Hollingsworth is a strong-minded individual who is more interested in reforming criminals than he is in communal utopias. He's attracted to Zenobia , a beautiful woman who puts fresh flower in her hair every day, as if to emphasize her beauty. She often teases Miles, telling him he is the poet who must do justice to the Blithedale experiment. The third is Priscilla, a waif-like pale young woman who comes from the city. Miles becomes impressed by the communal activity, saying, "We sought our profit by mutual aid, instead of wresting it by the strong hand from an enemy, or filching it craftily from those less shrewd than ourselves, or winning it by selfish competition with a neighbor," all of which sounds like a criticism of capitalism. He especially gets to know Hollingsworth well, but they come to a parting of the ways when Hollingsworth wants him to join him in his schemes to reform criminals. In fact,, he thinks Hollingsworth is not only mad, but in his obsession he's an "intolerable bore" as he allows for no opinions that don't match his own. He also becomes exasperated with Zenobia who seems to have given her heart to Hollingsworth and worse, is taking advantage of the strangely passive Priscilla. Fed up with these people, he quits Blithedale, considering that this philanthropic scheme is folly, trying to transmit "a great black ugliness of sin. . . into virtue."' He returns to his comfortable lodgings in the city, but Miles has some quirks of his own. He can't help thinking about these people and wonders what is going to happen tot hem. To this point, the plot has been fairly straightforward, but here the novel takes an odd turn and grafts a gothic back story onto the main plot. It involves a sinister mesmerist, Westerfelt,, who has had past dealings with both Zenobia and Priscilla. There is an old man who tells Miles a fantastic story about the pasts of of Zenobia and Priscilla The "noble-minded" reformer, Hollingworth, is not all that he has purported to be. A suicide ends the book on a grim note, with a kind of afterthought by Miles that his own fault was in being too passive and withdrawing from interaction with others. Most of the other characters in the novel took actions, yes, but out of motivations of pride and selfishness. All of this, it seemed to me, was Hawthorne's way of extricating himself from a dilemma of his making. From what I've read of Hawthorne's life, he took a dim view of commune life based on the ideals of the French socialist, Charles Fourier (in fact, there's a specific discussion of Fourier's ideas in the story), but he never directly shows any shortcomings of Blithedale. What he does, though, is to point out with his gothic backdrop of greed and selfishness, that all individuals are flawed, and given these flaws, such an experimental community, based on unselfish sharing, could never work. The actions of the characters ar interesting enough in themselves, but they don't directly have much bearing on why the commune didn't work out. I think it's an awkward ending to an often interesting book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Illiterate

    An allegorical fancy in which modern utopias break on the rocks of human nature.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Sammis

    I fell in love with Hawthorne's books and short stories when I was in junior high school. Twenty years later he continues to be on my list of top ten favorites. His novels strike me as incredibly modern and relevant to modern day life. The Blithedale Romance has many elements in common with the much sillier novel Tommy's Tale by Alan Cumming. The events at Blithedale (a commune in the woods) are laid out in chronological order by Miles Coverdale who proves to be as unreliable a narrator as Tommy I fell in love with Hawthorne's books and short stories when I was in junior high school. Twenty years later he continues to be on my list of top ten favorites. His novels strike me as incredibly modern and relevant to modern day life. The Blithedale Romance has many elements in common with the much sillier novel Tommy's Tale by Alan Cumming. The events at Blithedale (a commune in the woods) are laid out in chronological order by Miles Coverdale who proves to be as unreliable a narrator as Tommy. Cloverdale's omissions are a result of Puritan embarrassment but the sexual tension is hovering just below the surface of his euphemisms. Like Tommy who lives in a flat with Sadie, Bobby and Charlie, Cloverdale moves into Blithedale to live with two women (Zenobia, Priscilla) and a man, Hollingsworth. Unlike Tommy's flat, the two men and women pair up in more conventional ways but Cloverdale hints that the four are more open with their adult desires than what Cloverdale feels is proper. Nonetheless, he is a willing participant. Blithedale, though, ends up being a failed experiment. Puritan mores and hot tempers ultimately brings the downfall of the commune and Zenobia, the liberated modern woman, pays the ultimate price. If you like character driven tragedies like Hamlet, I highly recommend The Blithedale Romance.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John

    This book started out with so much promise, it makes me sad that it ended up falling so short of the mark. It began with some surprisingly modern themes, but did very little to make good use of them. The whole story is told first-person by a very unlikable and unreliable narrator, an elitist young man who thinks of himself as being very clever (although he loses every intellectual debate he opens his mouth in) and heroic (although he becomes very ill almost immediately and is constantly plagued This book started out with so much promise, it makes me sad that it ended up falling so short of the mark. It began with some surprisingly modern themes, but did very little to make good use of them. The whole story is told first-person by a very unlikable and unreliable narrator, an elitist young man who thinks of himself as being very clever (although he loses every intellectual debate he opens his mouth in) and heroic (although he becomes very ill almost immediately and is constantly plagued by bouts of jealousy and self-pity). Of course, Hawthorne wrote him in such an unflattering light intentionally, but I still prefer my main characters to be a bit more dynamic. The story itself begins like an intellectual exercise, morphs into a mystery of sorts, and then ends like a bad soap opera. Oh, and the story relies heavily on coincidence to move itself forward because of the narrator's disinclination to do anything proactive. This being Hawthorne, there are some beautifully written passages to be found here, but definitely don't go into this expecting the same degree of genius as The Scarlet Letter.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Hawthorne tells the story of a New England commune. As one would expect, it is at first filled with high social ideals and grand utopian hopes. But it gradually disintegrates—not due to external pressures, avarice, or the limitations of socialist economics, but due to the force of personal relationships and histories. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the novel is that it reifies this disintegration by shifting its own narrative into gothic melodrama. Mysterious histories and hidden relatio Hawthorne tells the story of a New England commune. As one would expect, it is at first filled with high social ideals and grand utopian hopes. But it gradually disintegrates—not due to external pressures, avarice, or the limitations of socialist economics, but due to the force of personal relationships and histories. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the novel is that it reifies this disintegration by shifting its own narrative into gothic melodrama. Mysterious histories and hidden relationships between the characters are revealed. These relationships are realistic enough: it’s nothing very out of the ordinary that disrupts utopian social models, but real, concrete human affairs. But the novel casts these relationships in the gothic moods and tones they deserve: the humanity of the affairs, what allows them to so constrict and disrupt the utopian ideal, consists of what we inject into them, the melodrama of which we make them, the intensity of our feelings as we live them, and the ways in which we relate to them as stories.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I read it for my English class. I can't say it was terrible, but, stylistically, I wan't into it. I'm not too into Romantic literature. There are a few interesting parts, but on the whole I never really identified with any of the characters. I suppose the premise is interesting: the story of a utopia called Blithedale, and the ways in which people morph themselves to fit this new life. Perhaps it's one of those cases where the idea is better than the actual thing? I don't know, all of it is just I read it for my English class. I can't say it was terrible, but, stylistically, I wan't into it. I'm not too into Romantic literature. There are a few interesting parts, but on the whole I never really identified with any of the characters. I suppose the premise is interesting: the story of a utopia called Blithedale, and the ways in which people morph themselves to fit this new life. Perhaps it's one of those cases where the idea is better than the actual thing? I don't know, all of it is just rather underwhelming and the ending is one of the most "are-you serious?" anti-climactic endings I've ever read. I couldn't give it one star because it wasn't utterly horrible, but, put it this way...I don't have the desire to ever read it again.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion

    Never did so many dependent clauses sound as sweet as a flute----a lovely display of language, dark romanticism, humor, and depth---the combination of which carried me away to higher loves, cavernous chills, and laughter. Indeed, how joyous to find this manifestation of a character that feels both idealism and cynicism so deeply, to which one thrives and grows by its relationship to the other. And from it, a deep beauty that captures that glimpse of the eternal, of essence behind form, of primor Never did so many dependent clauses sound as sweet as a flute----a lovely display of language, dark romanticism, humor, and depth---the combination of which carried me away to higher loves, cavernous chills, and laughter. Indeed, how joyous to find this manifestation of a character that feels both idealism and cynicism so deeply, to which one thrives and grows by its relationship to the other. And from it, a deep beauty that captures that glimpse of the eternal, of essence behind form, of primordial mystery, of multifaceted truth, undaunted by the wreckage, but for a tear.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This remains one of the finest examples of literature, not just of the 19th century but of all time. Actually, I don't know if that's true, but I do know that I researched Brook Farm like crazy after reading this book, and I had an unbridled enthusiasm for months to come about communes, and starting one. One day, I proclaimed to anyone who would listen, I would make that dream of a utopian intellectual society REAL, dammit! Then I realized I knew nothing about farming, and I really liked Dunkin This remains one of the finest examples of literature, not just of the 19th century but of all time. Actually, I don't know if that's true, but I do know that I researched Brook Farm like crazy after reading this book, and I had an unbridled enthusiasm for months to come about communes, and starting one. One day, I proclaimed to anyone who would listen, I would make that dream of a utopian intellectual society REAL, dammit! Then I realized I knew nothing about farming, and I really liked Dunkin Donuts, and yeah, that was that. Oh, but you should definitely read this book!

  24. 5 out of 5

    K.M. Weiland

    To put it mildly, Hawthorne can be a bit of a slog. And I was definitely prepared for that with this lesser known work. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. Not only is it a faster paced, less obtuse work than some he's done, it's also a delightfully Gothic mystery and an interesting commentary on philanthropy and utopianism. It's certainly not as memorable as The Scarlet Letter, but it's a nice little read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    While the plot structure is standard early American fiction and the character development could use an infusion of depth, what really makes this book sing is its narrative structure. I'm a sucker for unreliable narrators, and Miles Coverdale is one of the best examples of this kind of storytelling.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    I read this book for a class I am taking currently on the Transcendentalists and their contemporaries. I was resistant to reading it at first, but found that I really liked Hawthorne. He is a very skilled writer, and it had a great, surprise ending. Since it is based slightly on Hawthorne's experiences with Brook Farm, it gives an interesting point of view as to why he believes it failed.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Janis Arteaga Ai-V8

    i like everyting of this book

  28. 4 out of 5

    Miles Smith

    In his most autobiographical work, Hawthorne takes aim not at his ancestors but at the utopian reformers that populated mid-nineteenth century New England. The work presents a scathing indictment of faddish intellectualism rooted in the breakdown of the Calvinist socio-cultural milieu that defined New England in the colonial and Early Republic era. The work's protagonist, Miles Coverdale, serves as narrator and avatar for an obviously disillusioned but quickened Hawthorne.

  29. 4 out of 5

    SamOfKeenFables

    Miles Coverdale is a pathetic wannabe who not only has no purpose in life, but resents those around him for having purpose in their lives. He can't make up his mind about anything, and somehow this doesn't bother him. Though he technically has emotions, they don't seem to ever correspond to his actions. Not looking forward to the essay I have to write on this.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    I enjoyed this, although I was disappointed there wasn't more about transcendentalism and the communal life in it. The self-sufficient community is just a backdrop for a love triangle with assorted hangers-on, one of whom is our unreliable and sometimes blatantly hypocritical narrator. It's a much easier read than The Scarlet Letter.

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