Best of the Web
Sex, revenge, hypocrisy—no wonder Hawthorne's masterpiece sold like hotcakes from the moment it was published. Hawthorne's tale of Puritan hypocrisy and morality is one of the best American novels ever written.
Hawthorne spent a lot of time while growing up at the Salem home of his cousin Susannah Ingersoll. Her sprawling mansion was the inspiration for the titular home of this novel. The House of the Seven Gables is a classic of dark Romanticism.
Hawthorne's first published short story collection established him as a writer to watch. The stories had all been published previously in small journals (hence the name). When they appeared together, it was clear that their author was a master of fiction.
Hawthorne had a reputation for being aloof, standoffish, and painfully shy. Wineapple's biography goes behind the stereotypes about Hawthorne's personality to reveal intimate moments in the writer's life.
The writer Henry James wrote this biographical sketch of Hawthorne fifteen years after the writer's death. It remains one of the best books around about Hawthorne. James offers both critiques of the writer and a broader look at American culture.
Though Hawthorne later came to mock the earnestness of the American Transcendentalists in works like The Blithedale Romance, he was closely associated with many of the movement's leaders. Cheever's book looks at the movement that sprung out of Concord and involved many of Hawthorne's friends, such as Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.