The Subterranean Brotherhood

The Subterranean Brotherhood

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Julian Hawthorne was the son of famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, and while he wasn't as critically acclaimed as his father, Julian also wrote several works of fiction and histories. One of them is The Subterranean Brotherhood, written about a visit to a penitentiary in Atlanta. From the preface: "These chapters were begun the day after I got back to New York from the Atlanta penitentiary, and went on from day to day to the end. I did not know, at the start, what the thing would be like at the finish, and I made small effort to make it look shapely and smooth; but the inward impulse in me to write it, somehow, was irresistible, in spite of the other impulse to go off somewhere and rest and forget it all. But I felt that if it were not done then it might never be done at all; and done it must be at any cost. I had promised my mates in prison that I would do it, and I was under no less an obligation, though an unspoken one, to give the public an opportunity to learn at first hand what prison life is, and means. I had myself had no conception of the facts and their significance until I became myself a prisoner, though I had read as much in "prison literature" as most people, perhaps, and had for many years thought on the subject of penal imprisonment. Twenty odd years before, too, I had been struck by William Stead's saying, "Until a man has been in jail, he doesn't know what human life means." But one does not pay that price for knowledge voluntarily, and I had not expected to have the payment forced upon me. I imagined I could understand the feelings of a prisoner without being one. I was to live to acknowledge myself mistaken. And I conceive that other people are in the same deceived condition. So, with all the energy and goodwill of which I am capable, I set myself to do what I could to make them know the truth, and to ask themselves what should or could be done to end a situation so degrading to every one concerned in it, from one end of the line to the other. The situation, indeed, seems all but incredible. Your first thought on being told of it is, It must be an exaggeration or a fabrication. On the contrary, words cannot convey the whole horror and shamefulness of it."
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Product details

  • Paperback | 150 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 8.64mm | 281.23g
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 1507793871
  • 9781507793879

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