Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Transcendentalists



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Nathaniel Hawthorne lived and worked in the midst of the New England Transcendental movement when it was at its height. With the great interest today in the "dark" tone of Hawthorne's fiction, a philosophical and personal antipathy between Hawthorne and the optimistic Transcendentalists is generally taken for granted. Such an assumption tends to promote a distorted view of Hawthorne as a person and an incomplete view of his work. An examination of the personal writings of Hawthorne and those of the Transcendental group shows that Hawthorne associated closely with prominent Transcendentalists from 1838 until his death in 1864. He participated actively in the Brook Farm experiment and always spoke of his days there as "the most romantic episode" of his life. Hawthorne deliberately chose Concord for his permanent home and formed associations with many of the Transcendentalists that were permanent and marked by mutual respect. [...]