A collection of short fiction from a writer who helped to shape the course of American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Selected Tales and Sketches" is introduced by Michael J. Colacurcio in "Penguin Classics". With a determined commitment to the history of his native land, Nathaniel Hawthorne revealed, more incisively than any writer of his generation, the nature of a distinctly American consciousness. But Hawthorne was highly - often wickedly - unorthodox in his account of life in early America, and his precisely constructed plots quickly engage the reader's imagination. Collected here are stories such as "Young Goodman Brown", in which a young Puritan man is haunted by a vision of satanic rituals, gradually losing his faith; "The Haunted Mind", which contemplates the surreal nature of dreams as a gateway to supernatural realms; "Ethan Brand", an eerie meditation on the nature of sin; and "The Minister's Black Veil", in which a small-town clergyman undergoes a frightening transformation.
Written from the 1820s-to the 1850s, these works are informed by themes that reappear in Hawthorne's longer works: "The Scarlet Letter", "The House of the Seven Gables" and "The Blithedale Romance". And, as Michael J. Colacurcio points out in his introduction, they are themes that are now deeply embedded in the American literary tradition. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64) was born in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1825 he graduated from Bowdoin College, Maine, and returned to Salem determined to become a writer. He joined Brook Farm, a utopian experiment in communal living, before marrying in 1842. His writing had already secured some success with his "Twice-Told Tales", but it was the publication of "The Scarlet Letter in 1850" that brought him immediate recognition, followed a year later by "The House of the Seven Gables". If you enjoyed "Selected Tales" and "Sketches", you might like Edgar Allen Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings", also available in "Penguin Classics".
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Author Biography - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, the son and grandson of proud New England seafarers. He lived in genteel poverty with his widowed mother and two young sisters in a house filled with Puritan ideals and family pride in a prosperous past. His boyhood was, in most respects, pleasant and normal. In 1825 he was graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, and he returned to Salem determined to become a writer of short stories. For the next twelve years he was plagued with unhappiness and self-doubts as he struggled to master his craft. He finally secured some small measure of success with the publication of his Twice-Told Tales (1837). His marriage to Sophia Peabody in 1842 was a happy one. The Scarlet Letter (1850), which brought him immediate recognition, was followed by The House of the Seven Gables (1851). After serving four years as the American Consul in Liverpool, England, he traveled in Italy; he returned home to Massachusetts in 1860. Depressed, weary of writing, and failing in health, he died on May 19, 1864, at Plymouth, New Hampshire.