The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne. 0.00
The Marble Faun: Or, The Romance of Monte Beni, also known as Transformation, was the last of the four major romances by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and was published in 1860. The Marble Faun, written on the eve of the American Civil War, is set in a fantastical Italy. The romance mixes elements of a fable, pastoral, gothic novel, and travel guide. The four main characters are Miriam, a beautiful painter who is pursued by a mysterious, threatening man who is her "evil genius" through life; Hilda, an innocent copyist who is compared to the Virgin Mary and the white dove, and whose simple, unbendable moral principles can make her severe in spite of her tender heart; Kenyon, a sculptor, who represents rationalist humanism; and Donatello, the Count of Monte Beni, who is compared to Adam, and amazingly resembles the Faun of Praxiteles; the novel plays with the characters' belief that the count may be a descendant of the antique Faun, with Hawthorne withholding a definite statement even in the novel's concluding chapter. After writing The Blithedale Romance in 1852, Hawthorne, approaching fifty, turned away from publication and obtained a political appointment as American Consul in Liverpool, England, an appointment which he held from 1853 to 1857. In 1858, Hawthorne and his wife Sophia Peabody moved to Italy and became essentially tourists for a year and a half. In the spring of 1858, Hawthorne was inspired to write his romance when he saw the Faun of Praxiteles in the Palazzo Nuovo of the Capitoline Museum in Rome. The book was published simultaneously in America and England in 1860; the title for the British edition was Transformation: Or the Romance of Monte Beni. Both titles continue to be used today in the U.K. The climax comes less than halfway through the story, and Hawthorne intentionally failed to answer many questions about the characters and the plot. Complaints about this led Hawthorne to add a Postscript to the second edition.