Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny by Papaby Nathaniel Hawthorne, Paul Auster (Introduction)
On July 28, 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife Sophia and daughters Una and Rose left their house in Western Massachusetts to visit relatives near Boston. Hawthorne and his five-year-old son Julian stayed behind. How father and son got along over the next three weeks is the subject of this tender and funny extract from Hawthorne's notebooks.
"At about six
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This is the best book I have read this year. This slim volume comes courtesy of writer Paul Auster who discovered hiding within the pages of Hawthorne's notebooks, the story of twenty summer days from July 28th to August 16th 1851 that writer Nathaniel Hawthorne spent looking after his young son, Julian and his pet rabbit, Bunny (as his wife, Sophia went to visit relatives with the couple's two daughter's, Una and Rose). The trouble starts as soon as young Julian becomes aware that the baby is gone and is free to make as much noise as he pleases, exercising his lungs with screams and shouts. I have given copies of this book to a few expected fathers as it captures both the exasperation and the tenderness that comes with being a Dad. No other writer quite writes about children and childhood the way that Hawthorne so effortlessly does. The book also includes a visit by writer Herman Melville, who charms Julian and smokes cigars and chats with Hawthorne late into the night. Also, for the sake of curiosity be sure to read what becomes of young Julian by checking out the biography, Hawthorne: a Life by Brenda Wineapple.
This is a lovely book - I have only read the Danish translation which unfortunately does not have a photograph of Julian - but I think a lot of people will enjoy the description of the relationship between the very active five year old and his kind and tolerant father - it is amazing that this summer was 150 years ago. It is funny and sweet and while I have always found Hawthorne difficult to read this is not the case here - and the foreword by Auster is perfect to make one understand the book much better. Five stars to both Auster and Hawthorne.