The Scarlet Letter

Synopsis

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE was already a man of forty-six, and a tale writer of some twenty-four years' standing, when "The Scarlet Letter" appeared. He was born at Salem, Mass., on July 4th, 1804, son of a sea-captain. He led there a shy and rather sombre life; of few artistic encouragements, yet not wholly uncongenial, his moody, intensely meditative temperament being considered. Its colours and shadows are marvelously reflected in his "Twice-Told Tales" and other short stories, the product of his first literary period. Even his college days at Bowdoin did not quite break through his acquired and inherited reserve; but beneath it all, his faculty of divining men and women was exercised with almost uncanny prescience and subtlety. "The Scarlet Letter," which explains as much of this unique imaginative art, as is to be gathered from reading his highest single achievement, yet needs to be ranged with his other writings, early and late, to have its last effect. In the year that saw it published, he began "The House of the Seven Gables," a later romance or prose-tragedy of the PuritanAmerican community as he had himself known it-defrauded of art and the joy of life, "starving for symbols" as Emerson has it. Nathaniel Hawthorne died at Plymouth, New Hampshire, on May 18th, 1864.

The following is the table of his romances, stories, and other works :

Fanshawe, published anonymously, 1826; Twice-Told Tales, Ist Series, 1837; 2nd Series, 1842; Grandfather's Chair, a history for youth, 1841; Famous Old People (Grandfather's Chair), 1841; Liberty Tree: with the last words of Grandfather's Chair, 1842; Biographical Stories for Children, 1842; Mosses from an Old Manse, 1846; The Scarlet Letter, 1850; The House of the Seven Gables, 1851; True Stories from History and Biography (the whole History of Grandfather's Chair), 1851; A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys, 1851; The Snow Image and other Tales, 1851; The Blithedale Romance, 1852; Life of Franklin Pierce, 1852; Tanglewood Tales (2nd Series of the Wonder Book), 1853; A Rill from the Town-Pump, with remarks by Telba, 1857; The Marble Faun; or, The Romance of Monte Beni (published in England under the title of "Transformation"), 1860; Our Old Home, 1863; Dolliver Romance (Ist Part in "Atlantic Monthly"), 1864; in 3 Parts, 1876; Pansie, a fragment, Hawthorne's last literary effort, 1864; American Note-Books, 1868; English Note- Books, edited by Sophia Hawthorne, 1870; French and Italian Note- Books, 1871; Septimius Felton; or, the Elixir of Life (from the "Atlantic Monthly"), 1872; Doctor Grimshawe's Secret, with Preface and Notes by Julian Hawthorne, 1882.

Tales of the White Hills, Legends of New England, Legends of the Province House, 1877, contain tales which had already been printed in book form in "Twice-Told Tales" and the "Mosses"; "Sketches and Studies," 1883.

Hawthorne's contributions to magazines were numerous, and most of his tales appeared first in periodicals, chiefly in " The Token," I83I-1838, "New England Magazine," 1834, 1835; "Knickerbocker," I837-1839; "Democratic Review," 1838-1846; "Atlantic Monthly," I860-1872 (scenes from the Dolliver Romance, Septimius Felton, and passages from Hawthorne's Note-Books).

Works: in 24 volumes, 1879; in 12 volumes, with introductory notes by Lathrop, Riverside Edition, 1883.

Biography, etc. : A. H. Japp (pseud. H. A. Page), Memoir of N. Hawthorne, 1872; J. T. Field's "Yesterdays with Authors," 1873; G. P. Lathrop, "A Study of Hawthorne," 1876; Henry James,

English Men of Letters, 1879; Julian Hawthorne, " Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife," 1885; Moncure D. Conway, Life of Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1891; Analytical Index of Hawthorne's Works, by E. M. O'Connor, 1882.

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Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • London
Publication year:
  • 1913