Books: Hawthorne Revisited

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Coy Genius. Years later, when married, a father and famous as the author of The Scarlet Letter, he was still a recluse at heart. Young William Dean Howells went to call on him in Concord, found him "visibly shy to the point of discomfort." His Concord neighbor Bronson Alcott noted in his journal: "I get glimpses of Hawthorne as I walk up the sledpaths, he dodging about amongst the trees on his hilltop as if he feared his neighbor's eyes would catch him as he walked. A coy genius. . . . Nobody gets a chance to speak with him unless by accident. He never calls on anyone, is seldom seen outside of his gate."

Glimpses are about all one can get of the coy genius in these stories and sketches. But they are as good an index as any to the color and quality of his haunted mind.

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