Monday, November 12, 2007

Stunned by a Paragraph I


From Hawthorne: A Life by Brenda Wineapple


With an insight so fine it bordered on the voluptuous, he crafted a style of exquisite ambiguity, of uncompromising passion and stubborn skepticism. Yet his characters are often curiously static, poised between self-knowledge and indifference and, like Hawthorne himself, confounded by what and who they are. For Hawthorne was a man of dignity, of mordant wit, of malicious anger; a man of depression and control; a forthright and candid man aching to confess but too proud, too obstinate, too ashamed to do so; a man of disclosure and disguise, both at once, keen, cynical, intelligent, who digs into his imagination to write of American men and women: isolated in their communities, burdened by their history, riven by their sense of crime and their perpetual, befuddled innocence; people ambitious and vain and displaced and willing, or perhaps forced, to live a double life, a secret life, an exemplary life, haunted and imprisoned, even as his children were – or, in Hawthorne’s terms, as are we all.


Photo of Cephas Thompson's Portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne courtesy of Northern Illinois UP

3 comments:

Jim said...

Donald, I am grateful for the invitation to your blog--and for the description of Hawthorne, a writer whose many paradoxes keep me feeling so at home with him over so many years! Thank you for your writing

Donald said...

It is balm to sense a friend's reading, his weighing the truth of what he has read, his ever fresh determination to add to the history of links he has to the writer. Thank you, Jim.

Monk-in-Training said...

wow, that was beautiful, I am glad I am hear as well. Thanks, Donald.

I hope you and yours are doing well.