Henry Seidel Canby in “A Skeptic Incompatible with His Time and His Past” explains regarding the solitude of Nathaniel Hawthorne: “His reserve and love of solitude were the defenses of an imagination formed by peculiar circumstances and playing upon circumstances still more peculiar” (55). Let us explore in this essay the solitude within “The Minister’s Black Veil” and its author.
Herman Melville in “Hawthorne and His Mosses” (in Literary World, August 17, 24, 1850) comments on how the writer is seen by others: “But it is the least part of genius that attracts admiration. Where Hawthorne is known, he seems to be deemed a pleasant writer, with a pleasant style,--a sequestered, harmless man. . . .” Hawthorne’s sequestration of himself was known by his contemporaries; and Melville was more than a contemporary, he was also his neighbor.
Literary critics seem to come to a consensus on the subject of Hawthorne’s preference for solitude. Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living” state that “Hawthorne was essentially of a solitary nature, and group life was not for him. . .” (30) Sculley Bradley, Richmond Croom Beatty and E. Hudson Long in “The Social Criticism of a Public Man” say that “a young man engrossed in historical study and in learning the writer’s craft is not notably queer if he does not seek society. . . .” (47) Stanley T. Williams in “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind” states: “Soon after Hawthorne’s birth in 1804, circumstances intensified his innate Puritan characteristics: his analysis of the mind, his somber outlook on living, his tendency to withdraw from his fellows” (40). According to A.N. Kaul in his Introduction...
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...aniel Hawthorne. New York: Fawcett Premier, 1966.
Lang, H.J.. “How Ambiguous Is Hawthorne.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Martin, Terence. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Twayne Publishers Inc., 1965.
Melville, Herman. “Hawthorne and His Mosses,” The Literary World August 17, 24, 1850. no pag. http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/hahm.html
“Nathaniel Hawthorne.” The Norton Anthology: American Literature, edited by Baym et al. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1995.
Wagenknecht, Edward. Nathaniel Hawthorne – The Man, His Tales and Romances. New York: Continuum Publishing Co., 1989.
Williams, Stanley T. “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
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