domingo, 17 de novembro de 2013

Discovering Hawthorne


Hawthorne is not a very well known author here in Portugal. I have to confess to being mesmerized by his prose and themes,  somewhat akin to some of E.T.A. Hoffman's writings. So, read this not as a novel insight but by what is is, a record of discoveries.

Maybe still under Frankenstein's influence, reading these examples of the fantastic tale in the nineteenth century left me feeling that they betray fears and concerns about the consequences of progress and an aversion to excessive dedication to science, seen as something fearful from which unknown dangers may arise. Similar concerns  infuse the works of other writers of the romantic era such as Hoffman or some elements in Poe, echoing a fear of the consequences of progress in an age where scientific and technological developments where starting to radically reshape contemporary society.

Rejection of blind dedication can be seen in The Birthmark, where the scientist's obsession with an almost imperceptible blemish destroys the woman he loves, signifying how searching at all costs for complete perfection may bring the loss of what we love most. Rappacini's Daughter goes further into these fears of progress portraying a man of science with little or no scruples in pursuing his unnatural interests, disregarding even the closest human bonds. Reading Dr. Heidegger 's Experiment left me thinking how this a tale does for the idea of age and experience what H.G. Wells did for the concept superiority in The Country Of The Blind. No matter our beliefs, we eventually keep repeating the same mistakes, a poignant view in today's contemporary disregard for basic history.

The Artist Of The Beautiful enchanted with its curious speculation on mechanical simulation of life and clear metaphor of the artist's work who creates to answer inner instincts and remains free in the face of outside incomprehension. Essentially, dedication to art as something pure contrasting with the perceived darkness of science.

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