"Easy reading is damn hard writing."
After four years at Bowdoin College in Maine, Nathaniel Hawthorne returned to his motherís attic in Salem, MA, and began to write and found it difficult. When he decided that his first novel, Fanshawe, was not good enough, he burned all unsold copies.
He fared better with short stories, and his first two volumes earned him considerable critical success, though little money. By 1842, heíd married and setted in Concord, which was then a hotbed of Transcendentalism.
Emerson lived there, as did Thoreau and Bronson Alcott, father of Louisa May Alcott. Though Hawthorne knew these people and even lived briefly in a utopian community, he had little in common with these philosophical minds. They wrote about the miraculous America now, he wrote about Americanís past.
In 1846, debt forced Hawthorne
to take a job as a surveyor for the
Custom House in Salem. When he
lost this job three years later, he sat
down and in a brief period wrote The
Scarlet Letter, the first psychological
novel written in America. A classic
picture of Puritan New England, it is
also a profound analysis of individual
emotion. Hawthorne broke new ground
while looking back toward Americaís