Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment and The Minister’s Black Veil | Nathaniel Hawthorne




-         1804-1864

-         2nd child of sea captain Nathaniel Hathorne (adds “W”)

-         born in Salem, MA

-         Family was once great by has declined in prominence along with Salem

-         Father dies at sea when Nathaniel was four and mother becomes a recluse

-         At age 9 becomes an invalid for 2 years and then something of a recluse himself. Had a much larger inner world than an outer world, as did many great writers.

-         Salem was full of tales about ghosts and spirits

-         Hawthorne believed that he saw a ghost inhabiting his yard

-         1821, he enrolls at Bowdoin College, graduating in 1825

-         Friends at Bowdoin include Franklin Pierce (later President from 1853-1857) and H.W. Longfellow

-         Marries Sophia Peabody in 1842

-         Became a major short-story writer

-         Had a number of government posts, including customhouse official in Salem. There, to fight off boredom, he wrote The Scarlet Letter (1850), considered on the greatest American novels. He read it to his wife, he said. “It broke her heart…and sent her to bed with a grievous headache, which I look upon as a tremendous success.”

-         He had a deep and nagging sense of guilt that one of his ancestors was a judge at the Salem With Trials, and The Scarlet Letter may be seen as an act of atonement.

-         Later in life, Hawthorne had a habit of scribbling the number “64” in his notebooks when he was doodling

-         Dies in a country inn in Plymouth, N.H., in 1864 while visiting his friend, ex-President Pierce




-         Liked Emerson personally, but not his subjectivism, which stemmed from a rejection of original sin. He called Emerson “that everlasting rejecter of all that is, and a seeker for what he knows not.”

-         He said at the end of his life, “I doubt that I have ever really talked with half a dozen persons in my life, men or women.”