Review of Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Blithedale Romance'

2082 Words8 Pages
Nathaniel Hawthorne used the term "romance" to refer to his longer fictions the year before writing The Blithedale Romance, he chose to define the term for the benefit of his readers: When a writer calls his work a romance, it need hardly be observed that he wishes to claim a certain latitude, both as to its fashion and material, which he would not have felt himself entitled to assume, had he professed to be writing a novel. The latter form of composition is presumed to aim at a very minute fidelity, not merely to the possible, but to the probable and ordinary course of man's experience. The former--while, as a work of art, it must rigidly subject itself to laws, and while it sins unpardonably so far as it may swerve aside from the truth of the human heart--has fairly a right to present that truth under circumstances, to a great extent, of the writer's own choosing or creation. If he think fit, also, he may so manage his atmospherical medium as to bring out or mellow the lights, and deepen and enrich the shadows, of the picture. ("Preface") For Hawthorne, the novel is meant to be realistic, marked by a "fidelity" to the "probable and ordinary" events of human life. But romance, in Hawthorne's definition, is allowed to stray from strict realism, but must be accurate about "the truth of the human heart". In the case of The Blithedale Romance, however, Hawthorne was nonetheless working with real and autobiographical material the community of Blithedale in the novel is
Open Document