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Twice-Told Tales.[27 stories]. by Nathaniel…

Twice-Told Tales.[27 stories]. (original 1837; edition 1989)

by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Author), Lars Hokanson (Illustrator)

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The author of such short-fiction masterpieces as Young Goodman Brown and The Minister's Black Veil, Nathaniel Hawthorne is regarded as one of the most significant American writers of the nineteenth century. This volume collects many of his most famous short works and is a fitting compendium of his literary achievements for newcomers or longtime Hawthorne fans alike.… (more)
Title:Twice-Told Tales.[27 stories].
Authors:Nathaniel Hawthorne (Author)
Other authors:Lars Hokanson (Illustrator)
Info:Reader's Digest Association (1989), Edition: 1st Printing
Collections:Your library

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Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1837)



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Hawthorne is known for his cataloging the Puritan history and culture of New England in fictionalized format. This volume of short stories does exactly that. Hawthorne writes tales about conscience and rebellion against the King of England, about the follies of financial success and the shortcomings of moral excess.

I grew up in the American South in an evangelical home. The church taught me moral hand-wringing that allows me to relate to the characters in Hawthorne’s tales. Although the Southern Protestantism of my youth was more driven by financial prosperity than that of Puritan New England, Hawthorne’s critique still rings true in modern America. His characters are utterly human.

What’s great about Hawthorne is that he is able to express this critique in entertaining form. His stories make us laugh because they are so common to our experience. Although the florid language is foreign to modern parlance and takes a while to adjust to, the pointed illustrations of human nature are enduring. These people are American people. With a little adaptation, they could be our neighbors – or even ourselves. That makes Hawthorne a joy to read.

These short stories were originally published in magazines and are compiled in book form (hence the title of being “twice told”). They are perhaps the broadest application of Hawthorne’s style. The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables are more in-depth looks at New England’s Puritan past and how that past still haunts the present. This work avoids such depth. It favors a broad look at a myriad of personalities. It delights as it teaches us about our most important subject – ourselves. ( )
  scottjpearson | Jun 14, 2020 |
As precious a book to me as there is. Each story gently folds back layer by layer revealing a hidden truth or fear or hope or love at it's heart. Though written in the early 1800's, the sense and perspective is not strictly masculine. Hawthorne inhabits and coveys both genders with equal delicacy and strength. Can be read as simple entertainment or left on the tounge to discern deeper flavors than readily apparent. Such a master of the short story form that to write anything longer seems a waste of time...until you read the Scarlet Letter or House of the Seven Gables...both wonderful and conveying the same majesty of narration and smooth drifting prose. Pity if we forget the masters. ( )
  KurtWombat | Sep 15, 2019 |
Many of the stories are very heavy-handed in their messaging, but they are an interesting collection of early Americana. Much of the work has a supernatural bent which surprised me. I liked a few of the stories, but many came across as preachy or moralistic. The ones I liked best exposed hypocrisy -- go figure! ( )
  AliceAnna | Aug 31, 2014 |
Hawthorne wrote this collection of short stories anonymously in the 1830's, first published in local papers. At the urging of a friend he signed his name and raised the money to publish it as a book in two collected volumes, a copy of which was sent to former classmate and famous writer Henry Longfellow at Harvard. Longfellow gave it a favorable review and thus launched Hawthorne out of obscurity and on the path to well known works such as The House of Seven Gables and his masterpiece The Scarlet Letter.

Overall the collection is a mixed bag, some are clearly dated while others have timeless appeal. There are a lot of stories and only a handful will I remember and/or want to re-read in the future so it was a bit of a chore to read through them all. Hawthorne was honing his style so some of the pieces are dead ends, while others echo some of his later better works.

My favorite stories include "The Minister's Black Veil" about a 17th century New England puritan minister who vows never to look at the world except with a black veil over his eyes - the reason why is the mystery of the story and revealed to us at the end. "Wakefield" has a similar theme of mysterious behavior, a man decides to walk away from home without saying he was leaving and then return 10 years later - it is based on a true story and in fact there are modern accounts of similar things happening. "The Gentle Boy" beautifully captures 17th century religious fanaticism, intolerance and historical forces concerning the conflict between Puritans and Quakers in New England. This story is probably his most mature and serious of the book. "Mr. Higginbothem's Catastrophe", about a rumor of a man's murder, is a riddle wrapped in a story, I was perplexed and enthralled to the end. "David Swann", about a young man who falls asleep by the side of the road, is a philosophical story about the nature of fortune and fate. "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", about a liquid that makes the old young again, presages Robert Louis Stevenson and more recent movies like "Cocoon".

--Review by Stephen Balbach, via CoolReading (c) 2008 cc-by-nd ( )
3 vote Stbalbach | Jun 11, 2008 |
Collection of stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  brose72 | Mar 3, 2007 |
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The author of such short-fiction masterpieces as Young Goodman Brown and The Minister's Black Veil, Nathaniel Hawthorne is regarded as one of the most significant American writers of the nineteenth century. This volume collects many of his most famous short works and is a fitting compendium of his literary achievements for newcomers or longtime Hawthorne fans alike.

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