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A Virtuoso's Collection

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Book Overview: 

The story references a number of historical and mythical figures, items, beasts, books, etc. as part of a museum collection. The narrator is led through the collection by the virtuoso himself who turns out to be the Wandering Jew.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . garment of the "spirited sly snake," which tempted Eve. Against the walls were suspended the horns of the stag that Shakespeare shot; and on the floor lay the ponderous shell of the tortoise which fell upon the head of Aeschylus. In one row, as natural as life, stood the sacred bull Apis, the "cow with the crumpled horn," and a very wild-looking young heifer, which I guessed to be the cow that jumped over the moon. She was probably killed by the rapidity of her descent. As I turned away, my eyes fell upon an indescribable monster, which proved to be a griffin.

"I look in vain," observed I, "for the skin of an animal which might well deserve the closest study of a naturalist,—the winged horse, Pegasus."

"He is not yet dead," replied the virtuoso; "but he is so hard ridden by many young gentlemen of the day that I hope soon to add his skin and skeleton to my collection."

We now passed to the next alcove of the hall, in which. . . Read More

Community Reviews

First published in the Boston Miscellany of Literature and Fashion, I (May, 1842), “A Virtuoso’s Collection” is one of Hawthorne’s more intriguing—and less successful—allegories.

Its narrator tells us of his visit to a Massachusetts museum—thought to be based upon Salem’s East India Marine Society...more