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The Blithedale Romance

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Book Overview: 

The Blithedale Romance is the story of four principal characters who work with -- and sometimes against -- each other on Blithedale, a communal farm. These communes arose out of the pressures on society and the individual brought by the Industrial Revolution. Some were organized around religious philosophies, some were secular. Among the secularists, the Transcendental movement mentioned in the novel espoused the idea that the individual's intuition, rather than religious dogma, was the true path to spiritual enlightenment. Our four characters, like so many who fled to these communes, struggle to free mankind from bondage as they struggle with the unaccustomed day-to-day tasks of farm life. But they are plagued by a mystery that follows them from the world, and ultimately leads to tragedy.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I never had on a nightcap in my life! But perhaps it will be better for me to wear one, now that I am a miserable invalid. How admirably you have done it! No, no; I never can think of wearing such an exquisitely wrought nightcap as this, unless it be in the daytime, when I sit up to receive company."

"It is for use, not beauty," answered Priscilla. "I could have embroidered it and made it much prettier, if I pleased."

While holding up the nightcap and admiring the fine needlework, I perceived that Priscilla had a sealed letter which she was waiting for me to take. It had arrived from the village post-office that morning. As I did not immediately offer to receive the letter, she drew it back, and held it against her bosom, with both hands clasped over it, in a way that had probably grown habitual to her. Now, on turning my eyes from the nightcap to Priscilla, it forcibly struck me that her air, though not her figure, and the expression of he. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Hawthorne's mellifluous voice is clearly recognizable here, but I did not like this as much as The Scarlet Letter. Coverdale, as a narrator, is a passive presence and at times is somewhat of a creeper. He is ultimately outside the circle of true action and from his own account, never accomplishes mu

I’ve been meaning to read this novel for quite some time. Firstly, I have a particular interest in stories about communal life since I came close to joining a commune when I was a teenager. Hawthorne based the novel’s intentional community of Blithedale on the real utopian farming commune Brooke Far

Mankind has always had, and will always have, a penchant for utopian dreams of one sort or another. It may be that the frustrations of living in an imperfect world cause some to seek a new way of life, by forming a community of like-minded optimists, to live closer to the earth and pursue common ide

Hawthorne's third novel, The Blithedale Romance (it's a “romance” in the sense of a tale written in the mode of the Romantic literary school, not in the hearts-and-flowers modern book trade sense) has tended to be overshadowed by the much more popular and better-known first two. Many modern readers

Flat out my favorite Hawthorne, though I end up teaching THE SCARLET LETTER a lot more. This is probably his one work that feels very contemporary, what with the commune setting and the very relevant gender dynamics. The characters are at once stock figures and yet somehow deeply real: Miles, the pr

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