Selected Tales and Sketches – Review

Selected Tales and Sketches

by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Penguin Classics 1987)
by Aimee Ouellette

In the day of Clive Barker and Stephen King, readers have forgotten one of the masters of the mind-tangling macabre: Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hawthorne spent much of his life in Boston and Concord writing about Puritanical New England, possibly trying to offer amends for the horrors committed by his ancestors (i.e. the trials and murders of suspected “witches” or women who would now probably be called feminists). In Selected Tales and Sketches, Hawthorne offers 31 short stories that frequently deal with opposing forces such as perfection vs. reality, machine vs. nature, and good vs. evil. He plays with reader’s conscience and often the conclusion of the story can only be speculated. Remember not to trust the narrator’s opinion or interpretation of events in each story. Story favorites include: My Kinsman, Major Molineux, Young Goodman Brown, The Minister’s Black Veil, The Birth-mark, and The Artist of the Beautiful. No, this probably is not the lightest of reading, but certainly sinister and worthwhile just the same.