Nathaniel Hawthorne. To meet a need which had been felt for some time both in the United States and abroad, the pamphlet series, the University of Minnesota Pamphlets on American Writers, was established in 1959. By providing readable critical introductions to American Writers, the pamphlets were designed to meet the needs and tastes of mature students and readers of imaginative literature throughout the world.
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When Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1804 the town was already very old by American standards. The Hathornes had been there from the beginning. (Hawthorne added theωto the family name when he began to sign his stories.) By the 1690’s one of them was prominent enough to be a judge in the witchcraft trials. His descendant’s remarks on him in “The Custom House” Introduction toThe Scarlet Lettermix pride in his prominence and a sense of inherited guilt for his deeds as judge.
Hawthorne is being a little whimsical in “The Custom House,” protectively light...