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The Blithedale Romance (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 25, 1983

ISBN-13: 978-0140390285 ISBN-10: 0140390286 Edition: Reissue

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (August 25, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140390286
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140390285
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.1 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,867 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Minor novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1852. The novel, about a group of people living in an experimental community, was based in part on Hawthorne's disillusionment with the Brook Farm utopian community near Boston in the 1840s. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature

From the Publisher

Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Second, the character descriptions are repetitive, and also hard to believe.
Kevin
Nonetheless, anyone knowledgeable about social history will find 'Blithedale' a virtual documentation of the inchoate state of American culture in the 1840s.
Giordano Bruno
It's an easier read than Hawthorne's other novels, told with a wry sense of humor and sarcasm.
Eric Wilson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is not only a book with which any Hawthorne fan should be familiar, it is a necessity to anyone who is studying the Romantic Tradition. This text is an elegant commentary on the ideals that the Romantics held dear, such as the authenticity of a life close to the earth, the superiority of existence outside of common society rather than within it, and our innate ability, with enough well-directed effort, to transcend our own humanity. Like a breath of fresh air after Wordsworth, Thoreau, Keats, and both Shelleys, Hawthorne's cynicism and pessimism on these topics shine clearly through this work. Though admittedly he has failed in his announced effort to make the text cheerful and lighthearted, this is not such a complete failure as one may initially suppose, when this novel is contrasted with his others. Much of the humor that is in the book is centered around the narrator, Coverdale, whose nature forces him to fit in with his surroundings in a way which is a bit askew, precipitating enjoyable scenes which the reader can appreciate, if he or she has refrained from judging this main character. The treasure in this book, however, is not mainly in its humor, but rather (for me at least - each person presumably takes from it something different) in the elegance with which so many universal truths are exposed (often only partially, so that the reader can feel a sense of triumph when they wholly uncover them) to our conscious awareness. As you have no doubt already surmised, I highly recommend this novel.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Blithedale Romance is a somewhat dark, depressing tale of idealism gone awry and of friendship and love torn asunder by private ambitions. The romance of these pages is not what many modern readers may expect to find here; there is no penultimate consummation of love among these characters, nor is there much happiness indeed to be discerned from the complexity of their relations one with another. Much has been made of Hawthorne's own temporary residence at the utopian-minded Brook Farm a decade previous to the publication of this work; it is true that some of the experiences derive from his own memories, but Hawthorne went to great pains to make clear that this is a romance first and foremost and bears no direct relation to the experiences of his own life. Those who would read this novel in an attempt to get at Hawthorne's true feelings about the utopian socialism he flirted with and watched from afar during his pivotal creative years may well miss out on the thought-provoking treatment of such wonderfully literary, fascinating characters as Hollingsworth the idealistic philanthropist, Zenobia the modern feminist reformer with a fatal flaw inimical to her self-realization, and the sweet and frail Priscilla.
The first-person narrator of this story is Miles Coverdale, a man difficult to come to terms with. He joins with the pioneers behind the utopian farming community of Blithedale and truly takes heart in the possibility of this new kind of communitarian life offering mankind a chance to live lives of purpose and fulfillment, yet at times he steps outside of events and seems to view the whole experience as a study in human character and a learning experience to which his heart-strings are only loosely bound.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on June 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
As a Hawthorne fan, I allowed this book's title to dissuade me. A romance? Not my thing. Surely, this would be sub-par fiction from one of my favorite American authors. I set aside my objections, however, after seeing that England's Westminster Review called this book "the finest production of genius in either hemisphere." I was further intrigued by its exploration of the Utopian ideal, in this case, the fictional communal farm of Blithedale, based on Hawthorne's own real-life experiences at the short-lived Brook Farm outside Boston. There are romance elements within this story, yes, but the initial romance is that notion of a better life somewhere else, with like-minded souls, forgetting the reality of the fallen nature in mankind.

"The Blithedale Romance" is told first-person through the eyes of Miles Coverdale, a young poet. It's an easier read than Hawthorne's other novels, told with a wry sense of humor and sarcasm. He wonders, for example, whether this social experiment will be aptly named "The Oasis" or "Saharah." As Coverdale joins the other dreamers at Blithedale, he imagines the spiritual benefits of hard work, the joys their own labors will bestow upon them, but those "clods of earth . . . never etherealized into thought. Our thoughts, on the contrary, were fast becoming cloddish." The romance of their fellowship and shared subsistence loses its sheen, even in its first days, when they realize they must beat out the local market-goers, if they are to find the best produce. The very dog-eat-dog mentality they hope to escape becomes part of their reality, if they hope to survive their first winter together.

The idealism of their Community begins to crumble beneath the personal, though outwardly philanthropic, ambitions of formidable Mr. Hollingsworth.
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