Nathaniel Hawthorne

Sister Act
October 10, 2005

The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism By Megan Marshall (Houghton Mifflin, 602 pp., $28) “I am determined on distinction,” the teenaged Margaret Fuller vowed in 1825, as she made her first forays into Boston society. Elizabeth and Sophia Peabody, whom Fuller would soon meet, came of age in the same place and time with similar convictions. They were slightly older than Fuller, and much poorer, but they were determined to cultivate “genius.” For the first time in the Republic’s history, such hopes in a woman seemed dreamy, not mad.

The Moody Blues
July 01, 2002

The Black Veil: A Memoir With Digressions by Rick Moody (Little, Brown, 288 pp., $24.95) Rick Moody is the worst writer of his generation. I apologize for the abruptness of this declaration, its lack of nuance, of any meaning besides the intuitive; but as I made my way through Moody's oeuvre during the past few months I was unable to come up with any other starting point for a consideration of his accomplishment. Or, more accurately, every other starting point that I tried felt disingenuous, nothing more than a way of setting Moody up in order to knock him down.

The Universalist
January 20, 1997

by Andrew Delbanco

Review of "The Puritan Way of Death..." by David E. Stannard
December 10, 1977

The Puritan Way of Death: A Study in Religion, Culture, and Social Change by David E. Stannard (Oxford University Press; $11.95) Of the groups composing our ancestry, the Puritans have not been one of the more admired. Nathaniel Hawthorne, who was himself descended from a judge in the Salem witch trials, wrote that they were "of the most intolerable brood that ever lived"; other writers have habitually referred to them as vindictive and cruel; and to most people nowadays "Puritanism" evokes little more than an image of something gloomy and repressive.