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Mosses from an old manse von Nathaniel…
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Mosses from an old manse (Original 1846; 1846. Auflage)

von Nathaniel Hawthorne

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349257,782 (3.93)24
Mosses from an Old Manse is Nathaniel Hawthorne's second story collection, first published in 1846 in two volumes and featuring sketches and tales written over a span of more than twenty years, including such classics as "Young Goodman Brown," "The Birthmark," and "Rappaccini's Daughter." Herman Melville deemed Hawthorne the American Shakespeare, and Henry James wrote that his early tales possess "the element of simple genius, the quality of imagination. That is the real charm of Hawthorne's writing-this purity and spontaneity and naturalness of fancy."… (mehr)
Mitglied:RoseStandishNichols
Titel:Mosses from an old manse
Autoren:Nathaniel Hawthorne
Info:New York, Wiley and Putnam, 1846.
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Mosses from an Old Manse von Nathaniel Hawthorne (1846)

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Books on the history of Science fiction writing invariably mention a sub genre which I understand to be pro-to science fiction. The term science fiction came into prominence in the 1920’s and so novels published before that time, that can now be encompassed in the genre fall into the pro-to science fiction category. I was surprised to find that some short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne are considered to be pro-to science fiction and they are contained in the collection Mosses from an Old Manse published in 1846.

Nathaniel Hawthorne would of course have had no idea that he was writing science fiction stories, but Rappaccinis daughter, The birthmark, Feathertop, and Artist of the Beautiful would easily fit into that category and were a precursor to many stories that would find a place in magazines such as Amazing stories or Astounding stories from the 1920’3 and 1930’s respectively. Whatever Hawthorne might or might not have thought he was writing at the time, gave cause for him to reflect at the time of the second publication in 1854 that:

"I remember that I always had a meaning—or, at least, thought I had", and noted, "Upon my honor, I am not quite sure that I entirely comprehend my own meaning in some of these blasted allegories... I am a good deal changed since those times; and to tell you the truth, my past self is not very much to my taste, as I see in this book”

This reflection really does hit the nail on the head, because many of the stories are clearly allegorical and in that respect look backwards rather than forwards, however a few of the tales transcend their allegory and prove to be weird little mystery stories that can be enjoyed by readers who love early science fiction. In The Birthmark; the scientist Alymer is searching for the elixir of life. His pretty wife Georgiana has a birthmark on her face in the shape of a small hand, that is only really visible when she becomes flushed or excited, however this preys on Alymer’s mind until he views his wife as being disfigured. He puts all his scientific knowledge into finding a potion that will rid his wife of the birthmark, which he feels runs deep into her features. Eventually he is successful, his wife takes the potion with predictable results. Rappaccini’s daughter is perhaps the best story with a tongue-in-cheek introduction by Hawthorne who says the story comes from a collection by the obscure French author Aubepin (french for hawthorn). Beatrice is Rappaccini’s daughter and she inhabits a secret garden which is overlooked by lodgings where the young student Giovanni resides. He becomes fascinated by the garden of exotic flowers and by Dr Rappaccini and Beatrice who tend to it. He notices that many of the plants appear poisonous and that even the breath of Beatrice can kill flying insects. Giovanni learns from Dr Baglioni that Dr Rappaccini is notorious for producing medications that are curiously effective. Baglioni advises Giovanni to leave the Rappaccini’s well alone, but Giovanni becomes fascinated by Beatrice and meets her in the secret garden………. The story has a seductive, mysterious atmosphere and it is no surprise when it ends in tragedy. The Artist of the Beautiful tells of a young watchmaker (Owen) who spends much of his time trying to invent an artifice that will resemble the motion of a butterfly. His friend Robert Danforth is a blacksmith whose lusty strokes with his hammer and anvil are the opposite to Owens delicate craftsmanship. They both vie for the love of Annie who eventually goes to the Blacksmith. Owen finally crafts his masterpiece and is invited to dinner by Robert and Annie.

There are a couple of other excellent stories in the collection. Young Goodman Browne lives in a Puritan community but finds himself on Halloween’s night drawn into the forest, leaving his wife Faith behind; he meets mysterious people on the way and eventually comes upon an unholy scene that appears to be some sort of ancient ceremony attended by the pillars of his community. Is he dreaming? he might be, but that night has a profound effect on the rest of his life and his relationship with his wife. Feathertop: A Moralised legend is about a scarecrow who is brought to life by witchcraft and the power of pipe smoking. It is a well written story, but the moral behind the story of men made of straw is fairly obvious from the start.

Stories like The Procession of Life and The Celestial Railroad are heavily allegorical and are little more than morality plays as is Egotism or The Bosom Serpent. A mixed bag of stories many of which contain elements of mystery and even fantasy, some of which may appeal and so 3.5 stars. ( )
1 abstimmen baswood | Jul 17, 2017 |
Very tedious fantasies which I suppose might have been a new and wonderful thing pre-Civil War. Other of Hawthorne's works I've liked, but this is too dated even for me. ( )
  Bernicia1949 | Apr 7, 2012 |
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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Nathaniel HawthorneHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Burbank, Charles ElroyHerausgeberCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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Mosses from an Old Manse is Nathaniel Hawthorne's second story collection, first published in 1846 in two volumes and featuring sketches and tales written over a span of more than twenty years, including such classics as "Young Goodman Brown," "The Birthmark," and "Rappaccini's Daughter." Herman Melville deemed Hawthorne the American Shakespeare, and Henry James wrote that his early tales possess "the element of simple genius, the quality of imagination. That is the real charm of Hawthorne's writing-this purity and spontaneity and naturalness of fancy."

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