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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $15.50
  • December 2010
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-92861-7
  • 432 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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The Blithedale Romance

Norton Critical Editions

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Nathaniel Hawthorne (Author), Richard H. Millington (Editor, Smith College)


This new Norton Critical Edition of Hawthorne’s innovative 1852 novel helps readers navigate and appreciate its elusive plot, powerful characters, and maddening narrator.

This Norton Critical Edition of The Blithedale Romance is based on the Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, widely considered the best available edition. It is accompanied by explanatory annotations to help readers with Hawthorne’s many historical and literary references as well as with other possible sources of difficulty in the text.

“Contexts” is thematically organized and includes a rich and varied selection of materials, both public and private, focusing on Hawthorne’s inspirations for the novel. Included are letters, excerpts from journals, published accounts of Brook Farm and the growth of antebellum social reform, Hawthorne’s letters to Sophia Peabody and Louisa Hawthorne about his first days at Brook Farm, and later letters describing his growing reservations about and decision to leave the utopian community. The Blithedale Romance raises interesting questions about the role of women, the popularity of mesmerism, and the growth of cities in mid-nineteenth-century America. Margaret Fuller, Charles Baudelaire, and Hawthorne, among others, provide invaluable insight.

“Criticism” begins with major contemporary reviews by Herman Melville, William B. Pike, George S. Hillard, James T. Fields, Henry Fothergill Chorley, and others that suggest The Blithedale Romance’s initial reception. “Selections from Classic Studies” reprints key excerpts from influential essays published through the 1970s, including those by Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, Irving Howe, and James McIntosh.

“Recent Criticism” collects a striking range of scholarly interpretation by Nina Baym, Joel Pfister, Gillian Brown, Richard H. Brodhead, Lauren Berlant, Russ Castronovo, Robert S. Levine, and Richard H. Millington.

A Chronology and a Selected Bibliography are also included.



    A Note on the Text and Annotations Acknowledgments

    The Text of The Blithedale Romance


    The Brook Farm Community and the Ferment of Antebellum Social Reform

    1. George Ripley * Letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson
    2. Ralph Waldo Emerson * Journal Entry
    3. Ralph Waldo Emerson * Letter to George Ripley
    4. Nathaniel Hawthorne * From The Hall of Fantasy
    5. Charles Fourier * From Attractive Labor
    6. Theodore Parker * [What Shall Be Done for Criminals?]

    Nathaniel Hawthorne at Brook Farm

    First Days at Brook Farm

    Nathaniel Hawthorne Letters from Brook Farm

    1. To Sophia Peabody, Boston, April 13, 1841
    2. To Sophia Peabody, Boston, April 16, 1841
    3. To Sophia Peabody, Boston, April 28, 1841
    4. To Louisa Hawthorne, Salem, May 3, 1841
    5. To Sophia Peabody, Boston, May 4, 1841*

    Daily Life at Brook Farm

    Ora Gannett Sedgwick * From A Girl of Sixteen at Brook Farm

    Nathaniel Hawthorne * From The American Notebooks

    1. [Sunday, September 26. 1841]
    2. [Tuesday, September 28, 1841]
    3. [Friday, October 1, 1841]
    4. [Saturday, October 9, 1841]


    Nathaniel Hawthorne * Letters from Brook Farm

    1. To Sophia Peabody, Boston, June 1, 1841
    2. To G. S. Hillard, Boston, July 16, 1841
    3. To David Mack, Cambridge, July 18, 1841
    4. To Sophia Peabody, Lynn, Massachusetts, August 12, 1841
    5. To Sophia Peabody, Boston, August 22, 1841
    6. To Sophia Peabody, Boston, September 3, 1841
    7. To Sophia Peabody, Boston, September 22, 1841
    8. To Sophia Peabody, Boston, September [30], 1841


    Nathaniel Hawthorne * Letters, after Brook Farm

    1. To David Mack, Northampton, Massachusetts, May 25, 1842
    2. To Charles A. Dana, Brook Farm, October 17, 1842

    The Woman Question

    1. Margaret Fuller * [What Woman Needs]
    2. Nathaniel Hawthorne * [For Want of Sympathy]


    1. Charles Poyen * [The Proofs of Animal Magnetism]
    2. “A Practical Magnetizer” * [The Art of Magnetizing]
    3. Nathaniel Hawthorne * [An Intrusion into thy Holy of Holies]
    4. Letter to Sophia Peabody, Boston, October 16, 1841

    Urban Observation

    1. Charles Baudelaire * [The Perfect Flaneur]
    2. Nathaniel Parker Willis * Daguerreotype Sketches of New York
    3. Nathaniel Hawthorne * From The American Notebooks, Boston


    1. [The Bar at Parkerʼs]
    2. [All the Nooks and Crannies of Cities]
    3. [A Scene of Life in the Rough]


    Contemporary Responses

    Nathaniel Hawthorne * Letters on The Blithedale Romance

    1. [An Extra Touch of the Devil]
    2. [A Huge Bundle of Scribble]
    3. [Your Friend Stands Foremost]
    4. Herman Melville * [Who the Devel Aint a Dreamer?]
    5. William B. Pike * [Down Among the Questionings]
    6. George S. Hillard * [A Drier and Handsomer Death]
    7. James T. Fields * [No More Blithedales]
    8. Henry Fothergill Chorley * [Eminently an American Book]
    9. Edwin Percy Whipple * [Through the Medium of an Imagined Mind]
    10. Anonymous * [The Poetry of the Dissecting Room]
    11. Anonymous * [No Genius for Realities]
    12. Andrew Preston Peabody * [Utter Homelessness]

    Selections from Classic Studies

    1. Henry James * [The Blithedale Romance]
    2. William Dean Howells * [Pity Almost to Heart-break]
    3. D. H. Lawrence * [The Disintegration of the Psyche]
    4. Philip Rahv * [The Dark Lady]
    5. Irving Howe * [Coverdaleʼs Politics]
    6. Leo B. Levy * [A Sociology of the City]
    7. James McIntosh * [The Modernity of The Blithedale Romance]

    Recent Criticism

    1. Nina Baym * [Passion and Oppression in The Blithedale Romance]
    2. Richard H. Millington * American Anxiousness: Selfhood and Culture in
      The Blithedale Romance
    3. Joel Pfister * From Plotting Womanhood: Feminine Evolution and
      Narrative Feminization in Blithedale
    4. Gillian Brown * From The Mesmerized Spectator
    5. Richard H. Brodhead * Veiled Ladies: Toward a History of Antebellum
    6. Lauren Berlant * [Historyʼs Burial in The Blithedale Romance: Rethinking Hollingsworth]
    7. Russ Castronovo * The Half-Living Corpse: Females Mediums, Seances, and the Occult
    8. Robert S. Levine * Sympathy and Reform in The Blithedale Romance

    Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Chronology

    Selected Bibliography