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The Blithedale Romance

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  4,019 Ratings  ·  279 Reviews

One of Hawthorne’s great romances, The Blithedale Romance draws upon the author’s experiences at Brook Farm, the short-lived utopian community where Hawthorne spent much of 1841. Blithedale (“Happy Valley”), another would-be modern Arcadia, is the stage for Hawthorne’s grimly comic tragedy (Henry James famously called the novel “the lightest, the brightest, the liveliest”

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Paperback, (Everyman's Library), 300 pages
Published September 15th 1993 by Everyman Paperbacks (first published 1852)
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Debbie Zapata
Jul 16, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gutenberg
I usually start my book selections without reading about them or about the authors, but this time I read the Wiki entry for Nathaniel Hawthorne before beginning The Blithedale Romance. I cannot decide if that was a good idea or a spoiler. This book was based on his own short time spent in the utopian community known as Brook Farm, but when I read the article about his life and a separate article about the community, I was surprised to see that he did not believe in the enterprise, he had simply ...more
Kirk
Dec 31, 2007 Kirk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Flat out my favorite Hawthorne, though I end up teaching THE SCARLET LETTER a lot more. This is probably his one work that feels very contemporary, what with the commune setting and the very relevant gender dynamics. The characters are at once stock figures and yet somehow deeply real: Miles, the proto-Nick Carraway; Priscilla, the "light" girl; the monomaniacal Hollingsworth; and, of course, Zenobia, the "dark" woman and ambiguous symbol of feminism. Part of what makes this one fun is that you ...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.25* of five

I read this as part of the RL book circle's festivities. I can't really say I enjoyed it, though I admired it. I thiink I learned a lot from it...for example, there is no new idea anywhere under the sun. Hawthorne (really? no touchstone for Hawthorne?!) wrote of such familiar characters to any modern reader, the creepy pseudo-spiritual control freak, the conflicted feminist, the wishy-washy eternal follower, that it really feels like the book could have been written yesterda
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Lbsantini
Jul 03, 2009 Lbsantini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The more I read Hawthorne, the more I like him--the person I believe him to have been. He has a nice bite, as evidenced by the following passage, narrated by Coverdale (who is equated with Hawthorne)that made me cackle aloud:

"While our enterprise lay all in theory, we had pleased ourselves with the delectable visions of the spiritualization of labor. It was to be our form of prayer and ceremonial worship. Each stroke of the hoe was to uncover some aromatic root of wisdom, heretofore hidden from
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John David
After reading “The Scarlet Letter” years ago in school, and now “The House of Seven Gables” and “The Blithedale Romance” in relatively close conjunction, there seems to be a common theme running throughout much of Hawthorne’s longer fiction: namely, the deep and abiding mistrust in ideas of utopia, progress or perfectibility, especially of the human kind. Hawthorne came from a long line of Puritans, one of whom even presided over some of the Salem witch trials. Now writing on the cusp of the Civ ...more
Maureen
Apr 06, 2012 Maureen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
the three stars are all for the consummate writing skill that hawthorne commands, but with this novel i've come to realize i don't really like his novels. i like his short stories, and i think he was attracted to that form, in his time a new one that he helped define in the US, because i feel he chafed against the conventions of the novel in his day. as with what i experienced in reading the house of the seven gables, the prose of the blithedale romance is dense, molasses thick, and while artful ...more
Laura
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Page 5:
The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism is to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdom to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed.

Page 29:
"When, as a consequence of human improvement," said I, "the globe shall arrive at its final perfection, the great ocean is to be converted into a particular kind of lemonade, such as was fashionable at
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Bob
Aug 13, 2016 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the most singular thing about the book is its setting in, and critique of, a New England Transcendentalist utopian community of the mid-19th century, of just the sort Hawthorne was briefly associated with, it is also very much a somewhat melodramatic story typical of its era, with misplaced love, misunderstood parentage and other such confusions which are gradually revealed. Not that the portrayal of middle-class idealists who don't know which way to hold a hoe trying to get "back to th ...more
Edward
Jun 04, 2015 Edward rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel made me think of Shakespeare's so-called "problem plays" with their uneasy mixture of light and dark themes . Hawthorne's third novel mixes satiric and tragic moods and they don't fully merge either. Here, the narrator, Miles Coverdale, a self-satisfied bachelor who likes his comfort and his drinks, sets out on a summer's sojourn to Blithedale, a back-to-the-land commune. But he can quickly become serious, looking forward to getting away from the "falsehood,, formality, and error, lik ...more
Sarah Sammis
Jan 25, 2008 Sarah Sammis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: released
I fell in love with Hawthorne's books and short stories when I was in junior high school. Twenty years later he continues to be on my list of top ten favorites. His novels strike me as incredibly modern and relevant to modern day life.

The Blithedale Romance has many elements in common with the much sillier novel Tommy's Tale by Alan Cumming. The events at Blithedale (a commune in the woods) are laid out in chronological order by Miles Coverdale who proves to be as unreliable a narrator as Tommy
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John
Dec 25, 2009 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-drama
This book started out with so much promise, it makes me sad that it ended up falling so short of the mark. It began with some surprisingly modern themes, but did very little to make good use of them. The whole story is told first-person by a very unlikable and unreliable narrator, an elitist young man who thinks of himself as being very clever (although he loses every intellectual debate he opens his mouth in) and heroic (although he becomes very ill almost immediately and is constantly plagued ...more
Adam
Oct 14, 2010 Adam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hawthorne tells the story of a New England commune. As one would expect, it is at first filled with high social ideals and grand utopian hopes. But it gradually disintegrates—not due to external pressures, avarice, or the limitations of socialist economics, but due to the force of personal relationships and histories. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the novel is that it reifies this disintegration by shifting its own narrative into gothic melodrama. Mysterious histories and hidden relatio ...more
Sarah
Oct 04, 2013 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read it for my English class. I can't say it was terrible, but, stylistically, I wan't into it. I'm not too into Romantic literature.

There are a few interesting parts, but on the whole I never really identified with any of the characters. I suppose the premise is interesting: the story of a utopia called Blithedale, and the ways in which people morph themselves to fit this new life. Perhaps it's one of those cases where the idea is better than the actual thing? I don't know, all of it is just
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Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
Never did so many dependent clauses sound as sweet as a flute----a lovely display of language, dark romanticism, humor, and depth---the combination of which carried me away to higher loves, cavernous chills, and laughter. Indeed, how joyous to find this manifestation of a character that feels both idealism and cynicism so deeply, to which one thrives and grows by its relationship to the other. And from it, a deep beauty that captures that glimpse of the eternal, of essence behind form, of primor ...more
Sara
This remains one of the finest examples of literature, not just of the 19th century but of all time. Actually, I don't know if that's true, but I do know that I researched Brook Farm like crazy after reading this book, and I had an unbridled enthusiasm for months to come about communes, and starting one. One day, I proclaimed to anyone who would listen, I would make that dream of a utopian intellectual society REAL, dammit! Then I realized I knew nothing about farming, and I really liked Dunkin ...more
K.M. Weiland
Jan 23, 2014 K.M. Weiland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To put it mildly, Hawthorne can be a bit of a slog. And I was definitely prepared for that with this lesser known work. I was, however, pleasantly surprised. Not only is it a faster paced, less obtuse work than some he's done, it's also a delightfully Gothic mystery and an interesting commentary on philanthropy and utopianism. It's certainly not as memorable as The Scarlet Letter, but it's a nice little read.
Andrew
Apr 29, 2010 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the plot structure is standard early American fiction and the character development could use an infusion of depth, what really makes this book sing is its narrative structure. I'm a sucker for unreliable narrators, and Miles Coverdale is one of the best examples of this kind of storytelling.
Christine
I read this book for a class I am taking currently on the Transcendentalists and their contemporaries. I was resistant to reading it at first, but found that I really liked Hawthorne. He is a very skilled writer, and it had a great, surprise ending. Since it is based slightly on Hawthorne's experiences with Brook Farm, it gives an interesting point of view as to why he believes it failed.
Neal Caffrey
Jun 20, 2016 Neal Caffrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i like everyting of this book
Shelby Quintal
Jan 05, 2011 Shelby Quintal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Genni
Jan 09, 2016 Genni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*This review contains some spoilers*

Well, this was an odd piece of work. This was my first Hawthorne, and while his writing made me want to read his other books, this particular book left me....I don't know. I finished it with interest, but at the same time, I felt removed.

Hawthorne begins with a disclaimer: that the events and people were not based on real life. Since everyone knew of his time at Brook Farm (a Utopian socialist community), this naturally caused everyone to be especially attune
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Amanda
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Monty Milne
I found this almost as disappointing as "The House of the Seven Gables." I can't quite place my finger on why...I almost wonder if it's a failure of my imagination that I can't relate to the author and his concerns at almost any level. Odd, when I am an Anglo-Saxon (albeit an Old World one), and when I have no problem inhabiting the worlds of, say, Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. There are lots of veils in this novel - and not just the character of the Veiled Lady - and this leaves me discomposed. There ...more
Jane
Sep 27, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

An odd little story that I LOVED. It's creepy, dark, and intriguing. Hawthorne is brilliant!

The characters aren't really likeable, but in context of the narration it makes them even more intriguing, as we see them only through Coverdale's unreliable lens.

Hawthorne creates a lot of layers, giving enough clues as you are going that you start to draw conclusions. And yet after reading the end and looking back I noticed details that I hadn't before, and suddenly things became so blatant. (I feel l
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Philip Lane
I felt this fairly short novel was rather melodramatic. It claimed an air of mystery and drama where very little existed. The narrator touches on a number of topics but none of them really get a proper airing. The idea of communal living is central in the first half of the book but the narrator spends most of the time sick in bed so we get very little view of how the commune works. He feels that people who have arrived are mysterious but never seems to ask who they are or how they come to be the ...more
Mark
Apr 26, 2010 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is Hawthorne’s writing at its best. The love triangle (quadrangle really) at the center of the plot is pretty standard, but Hawthorne’s carefully wrought sentences elevate the book to another plane. The characterizations are memorable, and the book’s settings in a 19th century Utopian community, based on the actual Brook Farm commune where Hawthorn resided for a season, gives it added interest. I listened to the Librivox free audio book. I found that listening to this as an audio book helpe ...more
Nanci Svensson
Sep 03, 2013 Nanci Svensson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks, Reese. I could definitely identify a coherent narrative in this novel, and I am also very interested in both the experiments with communal living attempted in the 1900s, and in the dynamics of how "cultish" behavior develops. Zenobia represents a type of woman that I actively make sure not having to interact with, so I had some problems with her character, but that's not Hawthorne to blame for. "It's not Hawthorne, it's me..." He pretty much nailed the personality in his description of h ...more
SarahC
Oct 12, 2008 SarahC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting mix. It is light, mysterious and tragic all in one. I plan to read more of Hawthorne, whom I have previously avoided. His use of words is beautiful.
Jocelyne Lebon
Jun 16, 2013 Jocelyne Lebon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Methought this novel should get at least 5 stars for the preciousness of the language.
Sandi
Dec 29, 2016 Sandi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book up until its over-dramatic ending. In classic Hawthorne style, the story revolves around women *with seeeeeecrets.*

I don't mind that bit at all. The tit-for-tat exchange between the main character and the Hawthorne stand-in, Coverdale, and the mysterious and vivacious, Zenobia, as well as Coverdale's sympathetic musings on the differences between mental and physical work were more than enough to keep the narrative moving. And there was a cast of supporting characters
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Nathaniel Hawthorne was a 19th century American novelist and short story writer. He is seen as a key figure in the development of American literature for his tales of the nation's colonial history.

Shortly after graduating from Bowdoin College, Hathorne changed his name to Hawthorne. Hawthorne anonymously published his first work, a novel titled Fanshawe, in 1828. In 1837, he published Twice-Told T
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