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Review of Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales - Edgar Allan Poe
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In the end, the woman was taken away from the area to her mother's house. For some villagers, this settled the matter; for others the debate over her behavior was probably never truly resolved. The first text is a short story written shortly after the incident, which occurred almost thrity years ago; the second text is a copy of the fieldnotes collected about the events covered in the short story; the third text is an article published in in American Ethnologist that analyzes the incident from the author's current perspective.
Undue brevity is just as exceptionable here as in the poem; but undue length is yet more to be avoided. We have said that the tale has a point of superiority even over the poem. In fact, while the rhythm of this latter is an essential aid in the development of the poem's highest idea- the idea of the Beautiful- the artificialities of this rhythm are an inseparable bar to the development of all points of thought or expression which have their basis in Truth. But Truth is often, and in very great degree, the aim of the tale.
Some of the finest tales are tales of ratiocination. Thus the field of this species of composition, if not in so elevated a region on the mountain of Mind, is a table- land of far vaster extent than the domain of the mere poem. Its products are never so rich, but infinitely more numerous, and more appreciable by the mass of mankind.
The writer of the prose tale, in short, may bring to his theme a vast variety of modes or inflections of thought and expression- the ratiocinative, for example, the sarcastic or the humorous which are not only antagonistical to the nature of the poem, but absolutely forbidden by one of its most peculiar and indispensable adjuncts; we allude, of course, to rhythm.
Review of Hawthorne's Twice-Told Tales - Edgar Allan Poe - CommaPress
It may be added, here, par parenthese, that the author who aims at the purely beautiful in a prose tale is laboring at great disadvantage. For Beauty can be better treated in the poem. Not so with terror, or passion, or horror, or a multitude of such other points. And here it will be seen how full of prejudice are the usual animadversions against those tales of effect, many fine examples of which were found in the earlier numbers of Blackwood.
The impressions produced were wrought in a legitimate sphere of action, and constituted a legitimate although sometimes an exaggerated interest. They were relished by every man of genius: The true critic will but demand that that the design intended be accomplished, to the fullest extent, by the means most advantageously applicable.
Some of the pieces of Mr. John Neal abound in vigor and originality; but in general his compositions of this class are excessively diffuse, extravagant, and indicative of an imperfect sentiment of Art. Articles at random are, now and then, met with in our periodicals which might be advantageously compared with the best effusions of the British Magazines; but, upon the whole, we are far behind our progenitors in this department of literature. Hawthorne's Tales we would say, emphatically, that they belong to the highest region of Art- and Art subservient to genius of a very lofty order.
We had supposed, with good reason for so supposing, that he had been thrust into his present position by one of the impudent cliques which beset our literature, and whose pretensions it is our full purpose to expose at the earliest opportunity, but we have been most agreeably mistaken. We know of few compositions which the critic can more honestly commend than these "Twice-Told Tales. Hawthornes distinctive trait is invention, creation, imagination, originality- a trait which, in the literature of fiction, is positively worth all the rest. But the nature of originality, so far as regards its manifestation in letters, is but imperfectly understood.
The inventive or original mind as frequently displays itself in novelty of tone as in novelty of matter. Hawthorne is original at all points. It would be a matter of some difficulty to designate the best of these tales; we repeat that, without exception, they are beautiful.
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A man of whims conceives the purpose of quitting his wife and residing incognito, for twenty years, in her immediate neighborhood. Something of this kind actually happened in London. The force of Mr.
Hawthornes tale lies in the analysis of the motives which must or might have impelled the husband to such folly, in the first instance, with the possible causes of his perseverance. Upon this thesis a sketch of singular power has been constructed. The most captious critic could find no flaw in this production. The obvious meaning of this article will be found to smother its insinuated one. The moral put into the mouth of the dying minister will be supposed to convey the true import of the narrative, and that a crime of dark dye, having reference to the "young lady" has been committed, is a point which only minds congenial with that of the author will perceive.
A Thrice Told Tale by Margery Wolf
Heidegger's Experiment" is exceedingly well imagined, and executed, with surpassing ability. The artist breathes in every line of it. Even with the thoughtful and analytic, there will be much trouble in penetrating its entire import. The subject is commonplace.
A witch, subjects the Distant and the Past to the view of a mourner. It has been the fashion to describe, in such cases, a mirror in which the images of the absent appear, or a cloud of smoke is made to arise, and thence the figures are gradually unfolded.
Hawthorne has wonderfully heightened his effect by making the ear, in place of the eye, the medium by which the fantasy is conveyed. The head of the mourner is enveloped in the cloak of the witch, and within its magic, folds there arise sounds which have an all-sufficient intelligence. Throughout this article also, the artist is conspicuous- not more in positive than in negative merits. Not only is all done that should be done, but what perhaps is an end with more difficulty attained there is nothing done which should not be.
Every word tells, and there is not a word which does not tell. In "Howes Masquerade" we observe something which resembles a plagiarism- but which may be a very flattering coincidence of thought. We quote the passage in question. But Sir William Howe had evidently seen enough.
The sternness of his countenance gave place to a look of wild amazement, if not horror, while he recoiled several steps from the figure, and let fall his sword upon the floor. The idea here is, that the figure in the cloak is the phantom or reduplication of Sir William Howe, but in an article called "William Wilson," one of the "Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque," we have not only the same idea, but the same idea similarly presented in several respects.
We quote two paragraphs, which our readers may compare with what has been already given. A large mirror, it appeared to me, now stood where none had been perceptible before: