Sunday, August 16, 2009

What is Hawthorne Reader?

I love Hawthorne's writing. I chose The Scarlet Letter off the bookshelf decades ago. I was in eighth grade and I needed a book for a book report. I thought I would show off and choose a classic from my father's small collection. I told people I wanted to read the book for fun before eleventh grade reading assignments crushed all the life out of the story.

I don't know how I endured The Custom-House (TCH) introduction the first time. I plodded through, as one did during school years, forcing my eye across each line trying to keep myself from succumbing to the tedium. I was commited by then. I had told everyone I was reading The Scarlet Letter (TSL). My teacher was skeptical, he had just assigned this book to his junior class and they were all struggling with the material. I knew I could read it. But I hoped the story would improve.

At some point, I suspect I gave up on TCH, always intending to go back and read it some other time. I skipped to the first page of real story and from that very moment I fell in love. I loved the story. I loved the strength of the heroine. I loved the way Hawthorne spoke to the reader, most of the time (occasionally it was weird). I loved the way he could give you two sentences that summed up a character entirely.

My parents were censoring my books back then. I was thirteen and had already been punished for reading Jaws and The Flame and the Flower. It was nearly impossible in the promicuous seventies for an advanced reader like myself to find books that challenged my reading skills which my parents would allow me to read. I loved that TSL dealt with an adult situation with an adult vocabulary and sentence structure that never offended this reader's parents with scenes of sexual passion.

Okay, so a long time ago I fell in love with Nathaniel Hawthorne's writing. And for many years I have thought he hasn't received the acclaim he deserves. There ought to be movies about him. There ought to be movies about Emerson, Thoreau, Elizabeth Peabody, all of them, but especially Nathaniel and Sophia because theirs is a beautiful love story.

Somebody is going to have to write the screenplay. If it will be me, then I need to immerse myself in his words until I find the voice for the story.

I hope this blog helps me to be accountable to myself, I plan to keep reading through all the extant Hawthorne writings and other resources I find from time to time. I will read and then I will post a thought here, no matter how inane, to prove I did my reading.

I'm hoping that maybe there are other Hawthorne readers out there who may stop by from time to time to share their thoughts. It's a lonely world loving Nathaniel Hawthorne all by myself. I am hoping I will change his fame in my lifetime, but for now any like minded souls are welcomed.

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