The Celestial Railroad and Other Stories

The Celestial Railroad and Other StoriesOf Nathaniel Hawthorne S Insight Into The Puritan S Simultaneous Need For Fulfillment And Self Destruction, D H Lawrence Wrote, Nathaniel Knew Disagreeable Things In His Inner Soul He Was Careful To Send Them Out In Disguise By Means Of Artfully Crafted And Compelling Tales, Hawthorne Explored The Destinies And Concerns Of Early American Settlers And Citizens In Several Of The Stories In This Collection, Characters Who Hold Themselves Apart From Their Fellow Man Fall Prey To The Corroding Desires Of Lust For Perfection Then They Unwittingly Commit Evils Against Themselves And Others In The Name Of Pride Edgar Allan Poe Noted Of Hawthorne S Writing Every Word Tells, And There Is Not A Word Which Does Not Tell Hawthorne is a good writer Out of the 18 short stories included in this collection, I had read or at least heard of 7 of them, so it was good exposure to new writings by Hawthorne Of his novels, I ve read only The Scarlet Letter.Here is a blog post based on a note he included with Dr Heidegger s Experiment One interesting feature of Hawthorne s stories at least some of them is the questions left unanswered, or the ambiguity It allows the reader to extract his own meaning, and when we do that, often we see ourselves or our own experience in the story of one of his characters And, since Hawthorne writes about evil and good, the nature of men The Bosom Serpent , of their inner thoughts and heart, then it s not hard to find one s own experience in his stories So, now, the reader has a vivid, physical image of his own inside in the remarkable experience of Hawthorne s characters.Take Wakefield, the odd man who steps out of his home for a couple of days, to return 20 years later Leaving his wife puzzled, then distressed to sickness, then resigned to a lonely life How easy it would be to find oneself in this story, in a marriage but emotionally, or spiritually remote from his spouse But so close as well. I tried to or was made to try to read The Scarlet Letter in high school All I remember is I thought Hawthorne was dull,and I did not like the book I have been reading Ordeal of the Union by Allan Nevins, and one chapter dealt with the development of American writers prior to the war Hawthorne was among the writers included in this discussion This inspired me to dig out this book I was given as a present years ago and see what I thought Hawthorne is not dull and I enjoyed his stories Some are better than others Some are intriguing,I like the idea of Wakefield, but wished he had fleshed it out Hawthorne nicely captures the human fear of things people we don t understand in The Minister s Black Veil In the end, a pleasant surprise It makes me want to give The Scarlet Letter another try. TL DR Hawthorne is often overshadowed by others, but his work even the minor stories illustrate the complexities of human nature and invite us to deeply think about our own lives and values.When I decide to review a work, I generally do so because I feel that my thoughts can be of benefit to others I therefore have several misgivings about reviewing Hawthorne s The Celestial Railroad because I m not sure what I can add to over one hundred years of scholarship, debate, and reader feedback Reviewing his work is, for me, akin to reviewing the Bible it is, after all, a significant cultural document that has been a part of the American genome for so long that anything else I can add will have little to no impact upon those who are debating whether or not to read it.I will try to say something of substance though, if only because Hawthorne is far and above the rest my favorite author of the 19th century from America If my review can get even one person to read his work and appreciate it, I feel I have accomplished something positive.Hawthorne is my favorite American from the time period because I think he has a rare and complete grasp of the early American psyche His work demonstrates the hubris of many of the earliest colonialists, yet he also captures universals in his work If you, the potential reader, are trying to decide which book to read that illustrates the burgeoning American literature of the new nation, and if you also wish to take a long, hard look into the seething soul of humankind, Hawthorne is your man.Without ruining too much of the plot of these short stories, and without touching too much upon the ones most of us have read before works like The Minister s Black Veil and Rappaccini s Daughter I want to discuss some of the other stories in brief detail to perhaps entice you to read this book Again, since my purpose is to get you to read this book, I believe that by offering a few thoughts on some of the stories it may encourage you to read them In no order or importance, here are some back matter bits with commentary and fair warning, though I have tried to avoid doing so, there are some light SPOILERS ahead The Wives of the Dead Two sisters in law are horrified to discover their husbands have been killed in combat Each is overcome with grief, though separate travelers tell them uplifting news, unbeknownst to one another Though this story seems too open ended on the surface it is a kind of sister to Wakefield and may endure the same Well, okay, so what happens criticism it is, in fact, not Hawthorne illustrates the time period in his writing, but he also invites you, his reader, to see your own reactions in each of the sisters in law For instance, when you reach the end of the story, you will have either a cynical reaction They didn t bother to talk about it or a uplifting reaction They immediately knew and celebrated Hawthorne asks here, as in so many of his stories, that you see yourself in the characters and that you weigh your own mindset against these living, breathing beings By leaving the work open ended, he forces you to imagine the rest your evaluation of the story says as much about you as it does the characters Few writers have the guts to do this even once Hawthorne does it repeatedly, and each time is unique and different in its own way The Great Carbuncle I want to avoid the titular namesake of the book to illustrate another of Hawthorne s recurrent styles Rather than having an open ended story, Hawthorne in this version teaches lessons about human nature through powerful parables In The Great Carbuncle, Hawthorne uses the simple story of a group of distinct characters who are all in pursuit of a mysterious gem of some brilliant power Though only a handful find this gem, it is the reaction to finding it that is most important in the story Hawthorne asks that you think about which reaction is the most valuable he also asks that you think about which of the characters you feel the closest affinity for Is it the man seeking riches Is it the happy couple Is it the wild man who has degenerated because he spent so much of his life chasing one idea with no success As you read and project your own thoughts into the story, Hawthorne draws you in, inviting you to explore your own values As I said at the start, there is something universal in this presentation, for we have all pursued some goal in our lives which has consumed or liberated us The Ambitious Guest Finally, there is the kind of story which illustrates a deep character flaw present in one of the central characters which causes that character s or an entire group s downfall Though again I could have chosen one of the better known stories The Birthmark is a great example , The Ambitious Guest is a short, succinct tale that embodies this idea as well Here a family is gathered around a fire when a guest comes in upon them His musings get the family to think in turn about their own value to the world, and each becomes so caught in his or her own thoughts that they all miss the ominous portents just outside the door The story touches upon supernatural elements, though it never forces them upon the reader Hawthorne is a master of strongly implying a spiritual element in his characters lives, thereby adeptly bridging the gap between religion and rationality, as was the tendency of his day Spirituality, character flaws, and the image of rustic country living all combine as one total, producing an final image which will stay with you.Though Poe gets the limelight, I am convinced than ever that Hawthorne deserves it Poe sought to achieve a singular vision in each of his stories, but Hawthorne truly did so As I said at the beginning, if you are on the fence about which 19th century book to read maybe you are taking a class on it , this is a great place to start. Good stories, albeit slightly heavy handed on the moralizing But it s Hawthorne, so we would expect that. Hawthorne s talent lies in short story writing The Celestial Railroad and Other Stories is a fine collection of his stories, though I also recommend Twice Told Tales, which contains a number of stories not in this volume One of Hawthorne s lesser known works was chosen as the namesake of this volume The Celestial Railroad is not considered to be particularly profound, but I thought it was an extremely clever parody on Pilgrim s Progress The story dealt with a very serious temptation for Christians the temptation to believe that there is such a thing as an easy road to Heaven I think my favorite story in this volume is Wakefield, simply because it is so unusual and bizarre It reminded me, in a manner, of another favorite short story, Herman Melville s Bartleby the Scrivener I also recommend The Minister s Black Veil and Egotism, or the Bosom Serpent The Celestial Railroad is not generally considered one of Hawthorne s profound works, but I think it is a brilliant and often humorous parody which at the same time issues a serious warning to Christians who would like to pretend that there is a broad and comfortable way to heaven. This group of short stories is superb Hawthorne s dark, Puritanical sensibilities can be overwhelming in large doses, but they add power to his short fiction Celestial Railroad showcases some of Hawthorne s finest works My Kinsman, Major Molineaux is a tale with a central mystery that s not revealed until the end The Ambitious Guest is haunting Young Goodman Brown is one of NH s most famous works and is frequently anthologized The title story is a parody of The Pilgrim s Progress and is excellent I have yet to read all of the stories here, but I look forward to it. 3.5Hawthorne is brilliant in short story writing.Of his novels I only read The Scarlet I picked this paperback book up some time after being assigned to read Hawthorne s story Young Goodman Brown included here for 10th Grade English, I believe, whilst my former classmates were assigned to read The Scarlet Letter which I ve still never read.Hawthorne impressed me, though I didn t read this cover to cover He impresses me after reading a history of Salem, Massachusetts in his era.Recommended.

Nathaniel Hawthorne was a 19th century American novelist and short story writer He is seen as a key figure in the development of American literature for his tales of the nation s colonial history.Shortly after graduating from Bowdoin College, Hathorne changed his name to Hawthorne Hawthorne anonymously published his first work, a novel titled Fanshawe, in 1828 In 1837, he published Twice Told T

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  • Paperback
  • 297 pages
  • The Celestial Railroad and Other Stories
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • English
  • 10 October 2019
  • 9780451530202

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