Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press

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dylan kinnett

I thought it might help to comment with link to the Hawthorne's story.

Trent Walters

I agree that it is a conscious decision. I only meant to suggest that he could not have fully understood the ramifications of depression in its entirety but enough so that he and the character eventually stepped out of its spell.

I also agree with your position that it can be (even simultaneously) viewed through the lens of the artist.


Just in case it has escaped anyone's attention
Andre Codescru(sic) recently publlshed a novel, Wakefield, based on the Hawthorne story...

marly youmans


In some sense, is he not, as he does so often, twisting his calling together with its related impulse toward a kind of damnation--the chill observing eye and the withdrawal from "the magnetic chain of humanity"? A great deal of Hawthorne's considerable power seems to spring directly out of a tension between a desire to be a part of the human family and the demands of a watching and reflecting art; that's obvious. But I also wonder if he didn't fear the power that's in the making of stories: the way the self is overtaken, abolished, and scattered in moments of peak creation.


This is one of my favorite short stories of all time as well (actually, I think most of Hawthorne's short stories are excellent). Mush of Paul Auster's work has been influenced by Hawthorne and he makes pretty explicit references to this story in "The Locked Room" (the final book of the New York Trilogy). In many ways, in fact, "The Locked Room" feel like an interpretation/retelling of Wakefield.

I've always liked this and others of Hawthrone's stories for the way they so well support multiple readings and interpretations.


Are you familiar with Borges' essay on "Wakefield"?

Robert Nagle

I have nothing insightful to say here except to express my astonishment that this story (which I discovered randomly only a decade ago) seems to have a retinue of admirers among litbloggers. And jaw just dropped.


I agree with marly youmans, about Hawthrone's influence in Auster's works. Not only in the locked room, but in many others: rememeber "Oracle night" where the character of his roman the one left underground) also wanted to begin a new life, and "The book of illusions" where charcacter Hector Mann has to leave all behind and cut with past lives many times.
In fact when I was reading this last book, Wakefield came to mi mind so many times tah I sayd "I wonder if Auster has ever read Wakef..." and then, one of the characters begins to talk about Hawthrone. Bingo.
Auster loves hasard (read The Red Notebook) and things that can happen when you chose a way. Many of Auster's characters chose to cut their lives and to begin a new one, and sometimes they seem like random electiosn but NOP! Thery are decide by something bigger that leads every character there where he was supposed to arrive from the beginning.

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