Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hawthorne's notebooks, another scrap

"Colonel Boardman, the engineer of the Mill-Dam, is now here, after about a fortnight’s absence. A plain, country-squire looking man with a figure but with rather a ponderous brow; a rough complexion; a gait, and general rigidity of manner, something like a schoolmaster. He originated in a country-town, and is a self-educated man. As he walked down the gravel-walk, to day, after dinner, he took up a scythe, which one of the mowers had left in the sward, and began to mow, with quite a scientific swing. On the coming of the mower, he laid it down, perhaps a little ashamed of his amusement."

The American Notebooks, Centenary edition, pp. 54-5.

Hawthrone is still in Augusta, Maine. This passage would not look out of place in Turgenev or Tolstoy. Or Flaubert. Well-observed and insightful. Now if I can only find its equivalent in Hawthorne's own stories.

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