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fanuzzir
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Re: Hawthorne's writing style.

what I love about the style is the self-consciousness of the narration--the narrator goes right out to you, especially in the early chapters, and asks for your forebearance. There is also the incredible vocabulary that always complicates your sympathy with a character; it allows you to put you off and pull you into the same character. Yes, the style can be a little ornate but the subject seems to demand it!
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fanuzzir
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Re: Middle Chapters (8-14)

I hope you can give us a few more days to catch up before we work over the middle chapters--and your wonderful commentary! There is still so much about the first few chapter--class, memory, family strife, modernity--that we still haven't sifted over. And what about mesmerism, or hypnotism? I'd like to hear your thoughts as well on Clifford the lover of beauty/jailbird.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism



Choisya wrote:
Holgrave's potted biography of himself to Phoebe in The Daguerrotypist includes some references to him having been a Mesmerist. The description seems to chart the life of Mesmer himself, who found fame in Paris before being denounced as a charlatan, mainly because of fears that women who became hynotised might be vulnerable to the hynotist's sexual advances. Charles Dickens dabbled in mesmerism too. He learned it from a doctor at London's University College Hospital who experimented with mesmerism as an alternative to anaesthesia. There are several references to hynotic states and trances in Oliver Twist and in Dombey and Son. Dickens was known to practice mesmerism on his wife and other female acquaintances in an attempt to cure them of certain illnesses. There was a great fascination with this subject at the time Hawthorne was writing HOTSG.


You're right about the intellectual fascination with mesmerism--Hawthorne gave great attention to it in The Blithedale Romance. It played an ancillary but important role in the American culture of reform that Hawthorne mentions in HOTSG; it seemed to go along with temperance, abolition, vegetarianism, etc. Part of the American fascination with mesmerism was with the claims of the transcendentalist clique--that mind was all-powerful, and could reform the world. I think its fascinating the Holgrave threatens to bring this whole modern counter-culture into the fragile, dusty home of New England tradition--that's exactly what Hawthorne himself was doing by writing novels like this one! I still think Holgrave is the author, by the way.
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Choisya
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism



fanuzzir wrote:I still think Holgrave is the author, by the way.






He is certainly the only character who could be Hawthorne but the potted biography of his life, as narrated to Phoebe, does not mirror Hawthorne's.
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Laurel
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism



Choisya wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:I still think Holgrave is the author, by the way.






He is certainly the only character who could be Hawthorne but the potted biography of his life, as narrated to Phoebe, does not mirror Hawthorne's.




His philosophical turnabout at the end certainly does!
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Laurel
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Re: Middle Chapters (8-14)


fanuzzir wrote:
I hope you can give us a few more days to catch up before we work over the middle chapters--and your wonderful commentary! There is still so much about the first few chapter--class, memory, family strife, modernity--that we still haven't sifted over. And what about mesmerism, or hypnotism? I'd like to hear your thoughts as well on Clifford the lover of beauty/jailbird.




I finished reading the book tonight. I just couldn't help myself. I suspect Choisya has finished, too. I still want to talk about the first chapters, though, and I won't let you know what happens.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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fanuzzir
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism



Laurel wrote:


Choisya wrote:


fanuzzir wrote:I still think Holgrave is the author, by the way.






He is certainly the only character who could be Hawthorne but the potted biography of his life, as narrated to Phoebe, does not mirror Hawthorne's.




His philosophical turnabout at the end certainly does!


Now I'm dyiong to get to the end! I think the portrait of Holgrave is what Hawthorne would like to see more of in himself: more current, more modern, less guilty about slogging around the entire history of New England on his shoulders for the reading public to learn from. I really understand his sense of vocation from the sympathy he pours on Hepzibah: like her, he puts himself out in the marketplace but really feels like he belongs in a gable.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Middle Chapters (8-14)

You two should really keep going but I'm not going to look at this thread, OK? I don't want to spoil the ending for myself.
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Laurel
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism


fanuzzir wrote:


Now I'm dyiong to get to the end! I think the portrait of Holgrave is what Hawthorne would like to see more of in himself: more current, more modern, less guilty about slogging around the entire history of New England on his shoulders for the reading public to learn from. I really understand his sense of vocation from the sympathy he pours on Hepzibah: like her, he puts himself out in the marketplace but really feels like he belongs in a gable.




There are some interesting perspectives on home that come up later.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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ELee
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The House

The house, the portrait of Colonel Pyncheon, and his descendent Judge Pyncheon shared a similar countenance: dark, imposing, hard and heavy-browed. Though Judge Pyncheon presented a mask of benevolence and good humor (he thought) to the public, the Daguerreotypist's art and the rays of the sun proved otherwise.
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ELee
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Re: Hawthorne's writing style.

His style may take some getting used to, depending on what you were reading last and how far you have to "stretch your mind" to get into it. Now that I am "mid-book", I am more appreciative of his descriptions; "it's not like this", "it could be like this", but "here is an example of what it's like"!!
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Laurel
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Re: The House



ELee wrote:
The house, the portrait of Colonel Pyncheon, and his descendent Judge Pyncheon shared a similar countenance: dark, imposing, hard and heavy-browed. Though Judge Pyncheon presented a mask of benevolence and good humor (he thought) to the public, the Daguerreotypist's art and the rays of the sun proved otherwise.




You paint a good picture, ELee.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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fanuzzir
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Re: Phoebe

I hope you all can find this post about Phoebe, as it relates more to her character in the second 7 chapters--what role does she play for Clifford that goes beyond Muse? I was a little disturbed by their attachment, especially because the family is supposed to be in-bred. It seems very important for Phoebe's sanity that she's a half-relation, by a second marriage. People need to spread that gene pool out a little bit more.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism

After reading the story of Matthew Maule and the budding romance of Holgrave and Phoebe, it seems like mesmerism, at least for Hawthorne is unique by its ability to control women. That seems to be the power of the mind represented here; I thought again of his kill the lovely girl stories like Rappacini's Daughter and The Birthmark.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Hawthorne's writing style.

Very observant. The narrator is very keen on making this suspenseful, ambiguous, and mysterious. Like why does he want to preserve some goodness in the Judge when he seems tailor made for the bad guy?
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fanuzzir
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Re: Middle Chapters of House of the Seven Gables (8-14)

I hope all our dedicated readers of Hawthorne's family melodrama will join me to discuss some topics that have come up in the middle section in more detail:

1. Is Holgrave good or evil because he's a hypnotist like Matthew Maule?
2. Why does Hawthorne want to preserve some ambiguity of the Judge's character?
3. Is this a world that counts solely on family inheritance and property? You begin to realize why dead white men are so important when you've got no trade, no business, not capital, no talent . . .
4. How did the family get that croak in its voice?
5. Is the family too "close" in that icky sense of the word?
6. I thought this was supposed to be NEW England. Since when did it become the home of "old Adam," Clifford and company?
7. I just wanted to keep the number seven because someone else did before.
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Laurel
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Re: Holgrave and Mesmerism



fanuzzir wrote:
After reading the story of Matthew Maule and the budding romance of Holgrave and Phoebe, it seems like mesmerism, at least for Hawthorne is unique by its ability to control women. That seems to be the power of the mind represented here; I thought again of his kill the lovely girl stories like Rappacini's Daughter and The Birthmark.




Hawthorne could be as creepy as Poe sometimes.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Laurel
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Holgrave: good or evil?

[ Edited ]
1. Is Holgrave good or evil because he's a hypnotist like Matthew Maule?

Or could it be that his connection with Matthew Maule is beyond good and evil? Stay tuned.

Message Edited by Laurel on 11-20-200609:21 AM

"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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ELee
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Goodness in the Judge

I find any “goodness” in the Judge to be more a matter of practiced artifice than intrinsic beneficence. Just like his progenitor the Colonel, he “clothed himself” in an appearance of heartiness and kindliness that people would ASSUME was truly part of his character, without it’s actually being so. (You know what they say about “assume”...!) His first encounter with “kinswoman” Phoebe convinced me of this. I particularly enjoyed her reaction to his attempted “kiss of...natural affection”. I think a lot of Hawthorne’s “complex elucidations” are very tongue-in-cheek, and his description of Phoebe’s reaction is priceless. His subsequent behavior (particularly his encounter with Hepzibah, made me very suspicious of the Judge’s true intentions toward his cousins, especially considering the violence of their reactions to him.
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Laurel
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Phoebe as touchstone

Phoebe seems to be the touchstone who shows us the true nature of everyone with whom we see her interact.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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