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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In The High Puritan Style, April 23, 2010
This review is from: Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
The old social democratic literary critic and editor of "Dissent", Irving Howe, once noted that Mark Twain, and his post-Civil War works represented a dramatic break from the Euro-centric ante bellum literary establishment. And on this question I agree with him. As I do on his choice of Nathaniel Hawthorne as an exemplar of that tradition. Certainly his most famous work, "The Scarlet Letter", reflects that European influence, as do the collected short stories under review here.

As the reader, perhaps, knows Hawthorne made his living writing short stories for the women reader-oriented literary magazines of the day long before he wrote "The Scarlet Letter" and some of these have turned out to be classics of the early American Republic. Moreover, and this is one of his attractions for me, I know virtually every place where the action of the short stories takes place from the Merrymount May Day pole to the granite mountains of New Hampshire and beyond. More importantly, I know the weight, the dead weight of that grinding Puritan foundation that drove much of the early American experience here in New England. Hawthorne, in short, knows where the WASP-ish bodies are buried and is here to tell one and all the tales. Sometimes with pathos, sometimes with gothic effects, but always with a sense of some underlying moral purpose. You see Hawthorne too is smitten and bitten by that same Puritan ethos and that is the secret to the power of his writing.

As is usually the case with compilations, literary or otherwise, not all the work here is top-shelf. The best, and most representative to my mind, are the high Puritan "The Minister's Black Veil, the chilling "The White Old Maid', the swamp Yankee classic "Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure", the prophetic "The Birthmark", the Gothic classic "Rappaccini's Daughter", and another high Puritan classic "The Maypole of Merrymount.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Devil Made Me Do It, July 8, 2006
By 
Jon Linden (Warren, N.J. United States) - See all my reviews
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This publication of collected Hawthorne stories is a quite useful anthology. With 20 separate stories of the greatest renown and variety included; the reader gets a very fine spread of excellent short stories by one of America's most accomplished writers.

The title story, "Young Goodman Brown" is perhaps the best example of his famous short stories. In this tale, Young Goodman Brown takes a small trip down a path into the forest to contemplate a pact with the devil. His guilt is overwhelming. But, he notices something special on his way to meet Satan. He notices all the fine people of Salem who are gathered in front of himself, already in good association with the Dark Lord.

Hawthorne's descriptions are stark and heavily descriptive. His imagery is inescapable. And his social commentary is quick of wit and not very accepting of hypocrisy. He truly crafted his stories in a fine and substantial manner, such that they read fresh, even today so many years after their initial publication.

Of special note is "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment." The good Doctor wishes to conduct a behavioral experiment. He invites 4 of his close and elderly friends to the house. And he produces a flask of water from the "Fountain of Youth." The Doctor is successful in getting his guests to believe the source and act in accordance, seeing themselves all of a sudden much younger and spry.

Of particular interest is Hawhorne's own footnote to the story at the end which indicates that some have accused him of plagiary from another story by Alexander Dumas, but since he had written this one far before Dumas'; it is but Dumas' who gives him the honor of borrowing his original idea.

The book is particularly useful in its provision of endnotes that are very helpful in absorbing and imagining the totality of what Hawthorne was saying; particularly from a historical perspective. The book is recommended to all readers of classic American fiction, especially those lovers of Hawthorne.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Way of the Transgressor is hard, September 9, 2010
This review is from: Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Another great American puritannical author, Cormac McCarthy wrote in BLOOD MERIDIAN (his masterwork of 1985): "...when God made man the devil was at his elbow..."
Nathaniel Hawthorne was cut from the same sober, black cloth as McCarthy, and as deeply, obsessively fascinated and horrified by the power of darkness in the human heart. These magnificent short stories reveal Hawthorne's understanding of the innate warp in the human soul, and his profound distrust of those who would attempt to overcome or ignore that mortal knowledge. That is to say Hawthorne perceived that the durable core of Biblical wisdom as it concerns Mankind's wretched, Fallen soul had nothing to do with dogma, revelation, or even "Faith". Into this "existential" dilemma he was born over one hundred years before his time, and thus resembles many of the 19th century's deepest, most troubled skeptics.
At the core of this sad understanding as expressed in his art is Hawthorne's greatest & most heartbreaking tale, "Young Goodman Brown"--It is no less wrenching to feel the power of its bleak wisdom keenly once more today across the gulf of nearly eighteen decades...In the naivete & delusions of our technocentric Cyberfaith, we ignore its Hard Truth nonetheless, and increasingly, at our own peril.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars spooky, February 5, 2013
This review is from: Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
This is only just the best-est spooky tale in the world. It starts off-ff so-oo slow then moves on to a crecendo ending that is unforgetable...I felt much sympathy for young goodman after he discovers his wife along with the town in which he lives are involved in a big secret. Imagine choosing not to get involved then choosing to live in the same place knowing what the people are and knowing what the people do...
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Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales (Oxford World's Classics)
Young Goodman Brown and Other Tales (Oxford World's Classics) by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Paperback - April 15, 2009)
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