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By Sterling Professor of the Humanities Harold Bloom

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Sample text

He showed no egotism or self-assertion, rather a humility, and, at one time, a fear that he had written himself out. ’ Now it appears that I waited too long. —Journal, May 24, 1864 In an earlier page in this book I wrote some notes touching the so called Transcendentalists of Boston in 1837. Hawthorne drew some sketches in his Blithedale Romance, but not happily, as I think: rather, I should say quite unworthy of his genius. To be sure I do not think any of his books worthy of his genius. I admired the man, who was simple, amiable, truth loving, & frank in conversation: but I never read his books with pleasure—they are too young.

Meanwhile, however, another school of Hawthorne analysts has sprung up, with great hopes of success. These are persons, some of whom were acquaintances of Hawthorne during his bachelor days and for a time afterwards, and who maintain that he not only possessed broad and even low human sympathies and tendencies, but that he was by no means proof against temptation, and that it was only by the kind precaution and charitable silence of his friends that his dissolute excesses have remained so long concealed.

Nevertheless, his tendency we know to have been that of thinking out his plots and scenes and characters, and transcribing them rapidly without further change. Since he did not write anything wholly for the pleasure of creative writing, but had moral motives and perfect artistic harmony to consider, he could not have indulged in the spontaneous, passionate effusions which are the substance of so much other fiction. He was obliged to train his mind to reflection and judgment, and therefore he never tasted luxury of any kind.

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