Happy Horrific Hallmarkian Holiday
Audio file of myself reading Rappaccini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Monkshood flower AKA Aconite
Born July 4th, 1804 (in Salem, Mass) , died 1864
Interesting trivia: Reason why Nathaniel Hawthorne changed his name from ‘Hathorne’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hathorne His great-great-grandfather was a judge at the Salem witch trials -I have also heard the name of the town of Salem is a version of ‘Shalom’- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem,_Massachusetts )
Bet you also didn’t know Nathaniel Hawthorne the writer lived on a utopian compound and shoveled poop. He supported President Pierce & wrote his campaign biography http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Pierce who also got into trouble for not being enough of a liberal northern yankee type, much criticized on a political and personal level. Pierce’s popularity in the North declined sharply after he came out in favor of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, repealing the Missouri Compromise and reopening the question of the expansion of slavery in the west . His reputation was further damaged when he declared support for the Confederacy. Pierce died of cirrhosis of the liver, Hawthorne of stomach cancer.
Many don’t appreciate his work, because it is often includes things painful or complex, not easily and neatly dealt with. He is not a fun writer, yet he is one of depth- His writing was criticized mostly for either the style, the ‘voice’, pretty much saying that his narrative was just a vehicle for his Puritan upbringing- a place to get on the moral soapbox -the same could be said when I or anyone else writes or speaks about the Christian/Newsom case “Oh , you’re just using this ‘isolated, terrible news story’ as a platform to espouse your hateful views, blah blah”..but that is about people not wanting to hear the truth.
People don’t seem to care about what is right or true, they just shoot the messenger by shutting one down , calling names. In those days , they called ‘Puritan’, today they call ‘Racist!’ The very fact that through his writings, he dragged out things people did not want to deal with, made him a target. Some thought he was too bold – through plot or character development. Others said he was depressing or they didn’t want to be preached at, though that was perhaps not Hawthorne’s intent. People tend to view their own reactions as evidence of what the writer intended, if anything, in a given story. He questioned things, and we know very well that doing so unnerves folks.
Even with these criticisms, Hawthorne was highly complimented by his peers-
From Wiki: “The style of Hawthorne is purity itself. His tone is singularly effective–wild, plaintive, thoughtful, and in full accordance with his themes.” He concluded that, “we look upon him as one of the few men of indisputable genius to whom our country has as yet given birth.” Edgar Allen Poe
Henry James praised Hawthorne, saying, “The fine thing in Hawthorne is that he cared for the deeper psychology, and that, in his way, he tried to become familiar with it”. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Hawthorne#Novels
I also find fascinating that he was something of a creative revisionist:
Wiki says: Hawthorne is also considered among the first to experiment with alternate history as literary form. His 1845 short story “P.’s Correspondence” (a part of “Mosses from an Old Manse”) is the first known complete English language alternate history and among the most early in any language. The story’s protagonist is considered “a madman” due to his perceiving an alternative 1845 in which long-dead historical and literary figures are still alive; these delusions feature the poets Burns, Byron, Shelley, and Keats, the actor Edmund Kean, the British politician George Canning and even Napoleon Bonaparte.
In his time, Hawthorne might have been called something akin to a Goth-minus the Marilyn Manson Glam. But he didn’t have a rock band , wear makeup or dress like a vampire. Thank Gawd for that. Shackleton and Edison, you’ve got company. I get the feeling his writing wasn’t taken seriously or fully appreciated while he was alive by some and possibly further maligned through his association with the non politically-correct President Pierce, yet he is now considered required reading -or at least when I was in school, he was- by every high-school student.
“He was no mystic; what attracted him in Transcendentalism was its free inquiry, its radicalism, its contact with actual life..”
Beatrice with vial
http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/eng372/rappcrit.htm yes I KNOW about the name, there’s many people on that page