NATHANIEL to thrive on a vegetariandiet at

NATHANIEL to thrive on a vegetariandiet at

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE: THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMESIt was a brash, bustling, energetic country in whichHawthorne grew up and carved out his writing career. Thecovered wagons were rolling West, with signs that bravelydeclared “California or bust!” The first passenger railroadopened, and the trains went huffing and puffing along at the(then) incredible speed of 20 miles an hour. Jackson waselected president, throwing the conservative statesmen out ofoffice and ushering in the age of democracy and the commonman.

It was an age between wars, when America, having beatenEngland for the second time–in the War of 1812–was flexing itsadolescent muscles. Hope was in the air, and also a feeling ofimpatience with the imported, second-hand, European way of doingthings. “Down with the past” might have been the slogan of thetime. Americans sensed a fresh, creative task at hand in thebuilding of a new country. It was a task that called for strongbacks, clear eyes, and open minds.

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There were experiments in living going on to match theexperiments in politics and technology. Starry-eyedintellectuals gathered outside Boston to thrive on a vegetariandiet at Alcott’s Fruitlands. Thoreau conducted his own privateexperiments in a life close to nature at Walden Pond. HoraceMann planned to change the world by changing education.

Where was Hawthorne while all this excitement was going on?In his bedroom in Salem, reading a book. You get the distinctfeeling about this man that, so far as the great adventures ofhis time were concerned, he simply wasn’t paying attention.Hawthorne was gazing intelligently off in another direction.

Most of his generation looked expectantly toward the future.Hawthorne kept his eyes on the past. He was an introvert, almost a recluse, this native son ofSalem, Massachusetts.

After graduating from Bowdoin College, hespent close to twelve years at home in his room, reading andlearning his writer’s craft. For subject matter, he turned notto life but to books and to his own family history. When he wasa boy, his Puritan ancestors had haunted his imagination.

Andnow, he read voraciously about early New England history,fleshing out his childhood dreams. Words/ Pages : 361 / 24

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