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date: 01 December 2020

Hawthorne, Nathaniellocked

  • Alfred Bendixen

Extract

After Hawthorne's death, his widow expressed the hope that “no one would try to write about him, for no one can know enough to do it,” but her warning, of course, has not been heeded. Much of the early information came from family members, whose editing of his notebooks, letters, and private material and whose resulting books distorted the portrait they aimed to protect and preserve. Thus, the Nathaniel Hawthorne who emerges from the first biographical studies seems shy and reclusive, cut off from political and social changes that he seemed to fear, and perhaps a bit repressed. Later scholars, however, demolished that portrait of an artist who retreated to his study in Salem from 1825 to 1837, doing nothing but reading and writing, and attempted to replace it with a picture of a completely normal fellow who enjoyed cigars, alcohol, and convivial company while producing some of the greatest masterpieces of American fiction in his free time.

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