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The Blithedale Romance (1852) is Nathaniel Hawthorne's third major romance. Its setting is a utopian farming commune based on Brook Farm, of which Hawthorne was a founding member and where he lived in 1841. The novel dramatizes the conflict between the commune's ideals and the members' private desires and romantic rivalries. In Hawthorne (1879), Henry James called it "the lightest, the brightest, the liveliest" of Hawthorne's "unhumorous fictions," while literary critic Richard Brodhead has described it as "the darkest of Hawthorne's novels." Description from Wikiledia, the free encyclopedia.
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About the Author
Michael J. Colacurcio is Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles.
M. Luke Bresky is Associate Professor of English at St. Mary’s University, Calgary, Alberta.
Date of Birth:July 4, 1804
Date of Death:May 19, 1864
Place of Birth:Salem, Massachusetts
Place of Death:Plymouth, New Hampshire
Education:Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824
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Copyright © 1983 Nathaniel Hawthorne.
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Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Introduction Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Brief Chronology A Note on the Text
The Blithedale Romance
Appendix A: Hawthorne on Brook Farm, Reform, and Social Change
- Nathaniel Hawthorne, Selected Letters to Sophia Peabody (April 1841 to June 1842)
- From “The Hall of Fantasy” (1843, 1846)
- From “Earth’s Holocaust” (1844, 1846)
- From “The Old Manse” (1846)
- From The Scarlet Letter (1850)
Appendix B: Universal Reform and Associationism
- From George Ripley, Letter to the Church in Purchase Street (1 October 1840)
- From “‘The Memory and Example of the Just,’ A Sermon, Preached on All Saints’ Day, to the First Church, by Its Minister, N.L. Frothingham. Boston, 1840.” Christian Examiner (January 1841)
- From Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Chardon Street and Bible Conventions,” The Dial (July 1842)
- From Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Lectures on the Times,” The Dial (July 1842)
- From Ralph Waldo Emerson, “New England Reformers” (1844)
- From Albert Brisbane, “Association and Social Reform,” The Boston Quarterly Review (April 1842)
- From Charles Lane, “Brook Farm,” The Dial (January 1844)
- From Andrew Jackson Davis, The Principles of Nature, Her Divine Revelations, and a Voice to Mankind (1847)
Appendix C: Woman Emancipating, Woman Emancipated
- Pastoral Letter of the General Association of Massachusetts (28 June 1837)
- From Sarah Grimké, Letters on the Equality of the Sexes, Addressed to Mary S. Parker, President of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (1838)
- From Letter III: The Pastoral Letter of the General Association of Congregational Ministers of Massachusetts
- From Letter XII: Legal Disabilities of Women
- From Catharine E. Beecher, An Essay on Slavery and Abolitionism, with Reference to the Duty of American Females (1837)
- From William Lloyd Garrison, “Letter to the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society,” The Liberator (16 October 1840)
- Margaret Fuller, Selected Comments on Woman
- From “Leila,” The Dial (April 1841)
- From Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)
- Sophia Ripley, “Woman,” The Dial (January 1841)
- From Orestes Brownson, “Miss Fuller and Reformers,” Brownson’s Quarterly Review (April 1845)
- From Oneida Community [John Humphrey Noyes], “Bible Argument; Defining the Relations of the Sexes in the Kingdom of Heaven” (1849)
- From Theodore Parker, “Sermon of the Public Function of Woman” (1853)
Appendix D: The Fugitive Slave Law and Northern Anti-slavery
- From the US Constitution, Fugitive Slave Act (1850)
- From Horace Mann, “Speech to the Massachusetts Convention in Opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law” (1851)
- Caroline W. Healey Dall, “Amy. A Tale,” Liberty Bell (1849)
- Antislavery Emblems: “Am I Not a Woman and a Sister?”
- Josiah Wedgwood Antislavery Medallion (1787)
- Typefounder’s Cut from The Liberator (1832)
- Kneeling Slave with Dame Justice, from the Cover Page of Authentic Anecdotes of American Slavery (1838) by Lydia Maria Child
- Needlecase Stamped with Antislavery Emblem
Appendix E: Harriet Hosmer, Zenobia in Chains (1859)
Appendix F: Contemporary Reviews of The Blithedale Romance
- From “Contemporary Literature of America: ‘The Blithedale Romance,’” The Westminster Review (October 1852)
- Edwin Percy Whipple, Graham’s Magazine (September 1852)
Works Cited and Recommended Reading
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Hawthorne likes to write about society versus the individual In this book, a group of people decide to isolate themselves from society and establish their own eutopia. It leads to interesting results. Out of three Hawthorne books I've read (the other's being THe Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables), this is my favorite. It is covered with subtle humor. I really like Nathaniel Hawthorne and found myself really drawn into this story.
Story of a group of town men and women that decided to go work at a farm and live the simple life. Twist in the relationship of the leading women. Narrator seems to be a rather boring yet nosy poet. Surprise ending. Great last line.
My favorite Hawthorne. A roman a clef about Brook Farm, the failed Transcendental communal experiment.
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.
One of the worst novels I've read in a while- the plot is contrived, the prose is overdone, characters not as interesting as first appeared, etc. I expected the utopian community angle would make it intersting, but it doesn't play a very central part in the plot (or I didn't think so). At least it was short ...