Book Report: Twice-Told Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1837, 1989)

You know, once might have been enough.

Fresh from reading The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Tales, I jumped right into this book by another American author to see if my thesis that I could read American vernacular with more pleasure than the British was true. Apparently, it’s not unflinchingly true, as Hawthorne’s stories are more allegorical, high-faluting, and educational rather than enjoyable.

I read it slowly. At the beginning, I thought the style was overwhelming. Then, I amused myself in snickering at double entendres that would have made Hawthorne blush if he’d known how they’d sound to 21st century ears, such as the first paragraph of “The Maypole of Merry Mount“:

BRIGHT WERE the days at Merry Mount, when the Maypole was the banner staff of that gay colony! They who reared it, should their banner be triumphant, were to pour sunshine over New England’s rugged hills, and scatter flower seeds throughout the soil. Jollity and gloom were contending for an empire. Midsummer eve had come, bringing deep verdure to the forest, and roses in her lap, of a more vivid hue than the tender buds of Spring. But May, or her mirthful spirit, dwelt all the year round at Merry Mount, sporting with the Summer months, and revelling with Autumn, and basking in the glow of Winter’s fireside. Through a world of toil and care she flitted with a dreamlike smile, and came hither to find a home among the lightsome hearts of Merry Mount.

However, I eventually got acclimated to the book and got more into the tales, but they’re not really the sorts of things one reads for pleasure unless one gets pleasure out of saying, “I read Twice-Told Tales by Hawthorne for fun.”

So I guess I got some secondary pleasure out of it.

Less fun than the aforementioned Irving though, and only a bit more enjoyable than the Stallone but at greater investment.

Books mentioned in this review: