31 December 2008

20. Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hawthorne's memoir-ish tale of the Transcendentalist experiment in socialist living at Brook Farm, not far from Concord and Salem.

More than just an observer/participant's commentary and reportage on what happened this fictionalization is about the act of observing, commitment, manipulation and community, and social change.

And you don't necessarily have to know a lot about the Transcendentalist's to understand the events at Brook Farm because this, like many of Hawthorne's stories, can serve as an allegory for the limits of reform and social change. The course of the experiment is not as bad as, say, Orwell's Animal Farm, but it ends in failure anyway (as you already know because you've probably never heard of it unless you majored in English or 19th C. history).

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