A second helping of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s bewitching stories of old New England
Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the earliest admired American novelists and short story writers. Born in Salem, Massachusetts, his origins ever influenced his work. His tales were invariably set in New England, were darkly romantic and were often concerned with the occult and witches and their works in particular. Indeed, one of Hawthorne’s ancestors actually sat as a judge during the famous Salem Witch Trials, so the author’s inspiration could barely have stronger foundations. Predictably Hawthorne’s stories contain puritanical messages on the themes of sin, guilt and fundamental evil which go well with stories that contain uncanny and, sometimes, almost surreal elements. Although Hawthorne was decidedly popular with readers opinions about his work was sharply divided among his peers. Poe was a particularly harsh critic. Nevertheless, more recent analysis has suggested that he remains—possibly—America’s greatest novelist, challenged only by Henry James and William Faulkner. This Leonaur collection of four volumes has gathered together Hawthorne’s tales which contain elements of the weird and bizarre. It contains very well known works and those that may be less familiar.
Volume two contains the novel ‘The Marble Faun’ one of Hawthorne’s most highly regarded works and twelve short stories including ‘My Kinsman,Major Molineux,’ ‘Old Ticonderoga,’ ‘The Celestial Railroad,’ ‘Snow Flakes,’ ‘The Ambitious Guest’ and others.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.
He now roamed desperately, and at random, through the town, almost ready to believe that a spell was on him, like that by which a wizard of his country had once kept three pursuers wandering, a whole winter night, within twenty paces of the cottage which they sought. The streets lay before him, strange and desolate, and the lights were extinguished in almost every house. Twice, however, little parties of men, among whom Robin distinguished individuals in outlandish attire, came hurrying along; but though on both occasions they paused to address him, such intercourse did not at all enlighten his perplexity.<br>
They did but utter a few words in some language of which Robin knew nothing, and perceiving his inability to answer, bestowed a curse upon him in plain English, and hastened away. Finally, the lad determined to knock at the door of every mansion that might appear worthy to be occupied by his kinsman, trusting that perseverance would overcome the fatality that had hitherto thwarted him. Firm in this resolve, he was passing beneath the walls of a church, which formed the corner of two streets, when, as he turned into the shade of its steeple, he encountered a bulky stranger, muffled in a cloak. The man was proceeding with the speed of earnest business, but Robin planted himself full before him, holding the oak cudgel with both hands across his body as a bar to further passage.<br>
“Halt, honest man, and answer me a question,” said he, very resolutely. “Tell me, this instant, whereabouts is the dwelling of my kinsman, Major Molineux!”<br>
“Keep your tongue between your teeth, fool, and let me pass!” said a deep, gruff voice, which Robin partly remembered. “Let me pass, I say, or I’ll strike you to the earth!”<br>
“No, no, neighbour!” cried Robin, flourishing his cudgel, and then thrusting its larger end close to the man’s muffled face. “No, no, I’m not the fool you take me for, nor do you pass till I have an answer to my question. Whereabouts is the dwelling of my kinsman, Major Molineux?”<br>
The stranger, instead of attempting to force his passage, stepped back into the moonlight, unmuffled his face, and stared full into that of Robin.<br>
“Watch here an hour, and Major Molineux will pass by,” said he.<br>
Robin gazed with dismay and astonishment on the unprecedented physiognomy of the speaker. The forehead with its double prominence, the broad hooked nose, the shaggy eyebrows, and fiery eyes were those which he had noticed at the inn, but the man’s complexion had undergone a singular, or, more properly, a twofold change. One side of the face blazed an intense red, while the other was black as midnight, the division line being in the broad bridge of the nose; and a mouth which seemed to extend from ear to ear was black or red, in contrast to the colour of the cheek. The effect was as if two individual devils, a fiend of fire and a fiend of darkness, had united themselves to form this infernal visage. The stranger grinned in Robin’s face, muffled his party-coloured features, and was out of sight in a moment.<br>
“Strange things we travellers see!” ejaculated Robin.