The secret horrors of ordinary life

Regarding Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Wakefield,” biographer Brenda Wineapple says this in Hawthorne: A Life:

Hawthorne’s best stories penetrate the secret horrors of ordinary life, those interstices in the general routine where suddenly something or someone shifts out of place, changing everything. Parson Hooper puts on his veil, Wakefield takes a little walk, Reuben Bourne tells himself a small lie. At the same time, Hawthorne writes and rewrites a fable of the artist, storyteller extraordinaire and crafty nincompoop alienated from his duller contemporaries by sensibility and vocation, an estranged, filmy figure who gropes with abashed ardor through the twilight, insecure himself but discerning and asute.


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