The Blithedale Romance

The Blithedale Romance

3.34 (4,229 ratings by Goodreads)
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Based on Hawthorne's own experience of a Utopian socialist community outside Boston, The Blithedale Romance tells of the attempts of a like-minded group to begin reforming a dissipated America. However, rather than dropping bad habits and changing the world, Coverdale the prurient bachelor, Hollingsworth the furious philanthropist, Zenobia the voluptuous feminist, and Priscilla the vulnerable seamstress soon find themselves pursuing egotistical paths which must lead ultimately to tragedy. Evoking a bright rural idyll which fails to survive the ravages of lust and power, Hawthorne cynically undermines the fatuities of nineteenth-century American idealism. This book is intended for general; students from A-level upwards following courses on American literature, American studies, world literature, and the novel. explanatory notes by: Dugdale, John;show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 257 pages
  • 115.82 x 184.15 x 14.48mm | 158.76g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 0192825984
  • 9780192825988

Review Text

Blithedale Farm is a utopian community to which the narrator, Miles Coverdale, goes to escape the corruption of the city. Hawthorne's vision of it is based on Brook Farm, a co-operative reform community in 1840s Massachussets where he had lived, which aimed to simplify and purify its members' lives by allowing them to withdraw into subsistence farming from an increasingly commercial and materialistic society. It was hoped this would allow them to devote time to intellectual and spiritual self-improvement. It was founded in 1841 and disbanded in 1847: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller also passed time there. At Blithedale, Coverdale encounters a radical feminist, Zenboia, based on Fuller, who is in love with Hollingsworth, a philanthropist whose aim is to turn the farm into a rehabilitative institution for criminals. The narrative involves complicated betrayals, of Priscilla, whom Zenobia thinks is competing for the affections of Hollingsworth, and Zenobia herself: a suicide ensues and Coverdale returns to the city a broken man. Corruption, it seems, cannot be confined by time or place. This book is as relevant today as it was in Hawthorne's time. (Kirkus UK)show more

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4,229 ratings
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4 30% (1,266)
3 38% (1,593)
2 15% (636)
1 4% (155)
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