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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Blithedale Romance, The

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BLITHEDALE ROMANCE, The, the third of Nathaniel Hawthorne's romances, published 1852. It was the outcome of an intimate acquaintance with the members of the Brook Farm (q.v.) Community, and immortalized the brief attempt of that little group of transcendentalists to realize equality and fraternity in labor. It is more objective and realistic than Hawthorne's other works, and therefore in a sense more ordinary. Its central figure is Zenobia, a beautiful, intellectual, passionate woman; drawn as to some outlines, perhaps, from Margaret Fuller. At the time it opens she has taken up her abode at Blithedale Farm, the counterpart of Brook Farm. The other members of the community are Hollingsworth, a self-centred philanthropist; a Yankee farmer, Silas Forster, and his wife; Miles Coverdale, the relater of the story; and Priscilla, who is Zenobia's half-sister, though of this fact Zenobia is ignorant. 'The Blithedale Romance' is a brilliant instance of Hawthorne's power as a story-teller. No scene in the whole range of fiction is more realistic than the finding of Zenobia's body in the dead of night; drawn from the dank stream, a crooked, stiff shape, and carried to the farmhouse where old women in nightcaps jabber over it. Nothing could be more in the manner of Hawthorne than his comment that if Zenobia could have foreseen her appearance after drowning, she would never have committed the act.