Customer Reviews of Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories
This product came on time, was in good condition and inexpensive. My school bookstore wanted me to pay twice as much as I paid at Amazon. Save your money and buy this book at Amazon.
A good, meaningful short story
Having to read and compare Young Goodman Brown to The Crucible as a school assignment first seemed like a chore at first. But after understanding the story and being able to analyze it, it really is a great story although somewhat confusing in the beginning. If you'd like a little backround, Young Goodman Brown is about a Puritan man who takes a walk into the woods and finds himself talking to the devil.
A potent sampling of Hawthorne's tales
"Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories" brings together 7 tales by the great United States author Nathaniel Hawthorne. These stories date from the 1830s and 1840s, and reveal Hawthorne, well-known today as a novelist, to be a talented practitioner of the short story genre.
These are stories of weird science, romantic and professional obsession, thwarted love, witchcraft, guilt, and the quest for beauty. Irony and tragedy mark many of the tales. Hawthorne takes us from the rugged American frontier to a sunlit Italian garden. The title story is a strangely compelling evocation of the Salem Puritans and their obsession with Satanic conspiracies. Also impressive is "Roger Malvin's Burial," a devastating psychological tale.
If the only Hawthorne you know is the author of the justly-celebrated "Scarlet Letter," check out this collection. Overall, this book is a good choice both for classroom use and individual reading.
Virtue vs. vice and fabulous storytelling
An incredible bargain and wonderful tales to boot, vice and virtue were never more complex or interwoven as in these Hawthorne tales. All of his stories speak to the irreversible errors of man, well not altogether irreversible. There is redemption and resolve but not for all his characters. If you are looking for spiritually driven fabulously intriguing stories, look no further. Edgar Allan Poe has a fierce rival.
The Artist's consciousness...the soul's examination...
Nathaniel Hawthorne, as a writer and artist, has a
unique effect upon me as the reader. I am a bit put off
by his keep-your-distance...this is my stage, my characters,
my plot...you may observe, learn, but not participate
as experiencer...approach. Thus he is the master artist,
displaying his wares...and they are wondrous. The other
effect of Hawthorne upon me, is that I seem to feel that
his works are as carefully crafted, visualized, and
fatefully fulfilled (using all the motifs, symbols,
and foreshadowing--as well as irony, psychological
insight, and artistic deftness of creative imagination
and clever nuance) as Wagner's operas. Though "Young
Goodman Brown" seems a bit (just a bit,) too blatant
with the symbols and allegory, yet there is something
also immensely satisfying and complete in the intricate
way in which all the parts fit together. "The Artist of
the Beautiful," for me, is the supreme creation in this
collection of stories.
It is Hawthorne's insights, both about human
psychology and artistic awareness and limitation, that
amaze and please me. Here is an excerpt from the haunting
tale, "The Birthmark," in which a perfectionist husband
attempts to remove a small birthmark from his wife's
cheek so she will be completely perfect. The husband
is Aylmer; his wife is Georgiana. The wife chances upon
the volumes which Aylmer has, and one of them is a record
of all of his own experiments. "But to Georgiana, the
most engrossing volume was a large folio from her
husband's own hand, in which he had recorded every
experiment of his scientific career, its original aim,
the methods adopted for its development, and its final
success or failure.... The book, in truth, was both the
history and emblem of his ardent, ambitious, imaginative,
yet practical and laborious life. He handled physical
details as if there were nothing beyond them; yet
spiritualized them all, and redeemed himself from
materialism by his strong and eager apiration towards
the infinite. In his grasp the veriest clod of earth
assumed a soul. * * * The volume rich with achievements
that had won renown for its author, was yet as melancholy
a record as ever mortal hand had penned. It was the sad
confession and continual exemplification of the
shortcomings of the composite man, the spirit burdened
with clay and working in matter, and of the despair
that assails the higher nature at finding itself so
miserably thwarted by the earthly part. Perhaps every
man of genius, in whatever sphere, might recognize the
image of his own experience in Aylmer's journal."
The greatness of that insight is that it not only
applies to Aylmer, but it also obviously is something
which Hawthorne as an artist of the imagination
had grappled with himself -- while still having to live
in the practical world of matter, being assaulted by
its harassments, sicknesses, weakenings, dangers,
limits...and being forced to scratch out something by the
way of making a living for himself and his dependents.
Yet he feels somehow compromised and humiliated by the
ironic joke of having the transcendent consciousness
and soul imprisoned in the body's corruptible matter.
Here is Hawthorne the Artist expressing it so well
in "The Artist of the Beautiful": "He knew that the
world, and Annie as the representative of the world,
whatever praise might be bestowed, could never say the
fitting word nor feel the fitting sentiment which should
be the perfect recompense of an artist who, symbolizing
a lofty moral by a material trifle, -- converting what
was earthly to spiritual gold, -- had won the beautiful
into his handiwork. Not at this latest moment was he
to learn that the reward of all high performance must be
sought within itself, or sought in vain."
The insight and artistic sensitivity and psychological
understanding more than outshine the stand-offish
stage manager and manipulator of effects.