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Nathaniel Hawthorne: Wakefield


Nathaniel Hawthorne: Wakefield


“I recollect a story told as truth, of a man — let us call him Wakefield — who absented himself for a long time, from his wife…”

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s brilliant short story, Wakefield, forever established him as a master storyteller.

The premise is strikingly modern: a man who has lived for years with his wife suddenly walks out, moves a short distance away, and never comes back.

In Hawthorne’s own words:

“The man, under presence of going a journey, took lodgings in the next street to his own house; and there, unheard of by his wife or friends, and without the shadow of a reason for such self-banishment, dwelt upwards of twenty years…”

We struggle to understand what seems senseless. But Hawthorne uses this to argue our ultimate isolation.

We cohabit—but are we really together? 

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (1804-1864), one of the greatest authors of the nineteenth century, transformed the art of fiction. The author of numerous novels and short stories, including The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, he was an acknowledged master of the form, and admired for his explorations of ancestral sin, guilt, and the concept of justice.

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