Twice-Told Tales (1831-1837, 1842)

Hawthorne’s philosophical precision is a constant inspiration—whether his tales are fantastic or realistic, they are always grounded in human experience (and such varied experience!). It’s interesting, with books, to see what sticks: my heart and mind store images much more vividly than words. I have to work harder to intuit meaning, to feel beyond the text. Since it doesn’t come as naturally, that’s probably why books are an arm’s-length art for me. And still I try… Two things that stuck here—

From “Foot-prints on the Sea-shore”:

“And when, at noontide, I tread the crowded streets, the influence of this day will still be felt; so that I shall walk among men kindly and as a brother, with affection and sympathy, but yet shall not melt into the indistinguishable mass of humankind. I shall think my own thoughts, and feel my own emotions, and possess my individuality unviolated.”

From “The Sister Years”:

“Nothing so much depresses me, in my view of mortal affairs, as to see high energies wasted, and human life and happiness thrown away, for ends that appear oftentimes unwise; and still oftener remain unaccomplished. But the wisest people and the best keep a steadfast faith that the progress of Mankind is onward and upward, and that the toil and anguish of the path serve to wear away the imperfections of the Immortal Pilgrim, and will be felt no more, when they have done their office.”

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