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Browne's Folly (From: "The Doliver Romance and Other Pieces: Tales and Sketches")   By: (1804-1864)

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Browne's Folly, a captivating and thought-provoking tale written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, takes readers on a journey through the complexities of human nature, exploring themes of ambition, pride, and the pursuit of perfection. Set in a small New England town, the story revolves around the remarkable character of Mr. Browne, an eccentric inventor striving to create a revolutionary device that would change the world.

Hawthorne's masterful storytelling immediately draws readers into the enigmatic world of Browne's Folly. With a vivid and descriptive prose, the author paints a detailed picture of the inventor's peculiar workshop, filled with chaotic contraptions and a relentless pursuit of progress. Through Hawthorne's skillful narrative, readers feel transported to the bustling, 19th-century New England, immersing themselves in the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of the era.

Central to the story is the character of Mr. Browne himself: a complex and flawed individual driven by his relentless pursuit of perfection. Hawthorne skillfully delves into the inner workings of Browne's mind, revealing the intricate layers of ambition and pride that fuel his tireless efforts. As readers follow Browne on his quest, they witness the emotional toll his obsession takes on his personal relationships, leaving them contemplating the fine line between dedication and folly.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the story lies in Hawthorne's exploration of the consequences of Browne's actions. As his inventions progress, readers are forced to question the potential ramifications of Browne's success, pondering whether his pursuit of grandeur ultimately leads to the greater good or threatens the delicate balance of society.

Throughout Browne's Folly, Hawthorne weaves a subtle thread of moral introspection, provoking readers to reflect on their own desires for progress and the price they are willing to pay. With his signature blend of atmospheric setting, intricate characterization, and philosophical undertones, Hawthorne creates a thought-provoking narrative that lingers long after the book's conclusion.

While Browne's Folly may not be one of Hawthorne's most well-known works, it undoubtedly showcases the author's literary prowess and his ability to spin a captivating tale. Through the lens of Browne's turbulent journey, readers are invited to examine the complexities of human nature and the pursuit of perfection, leaving them with a profound sense of introspection and contemplation.

In conclusion, Browne's Folly is a hidden gem within Hawthorne's body of work. With its deeply introspective narrative and thought-provoking themes, this lesser-known tale showcases the author's skill in exploring the intricacies of the human psyche. Hawthorne's vivid prose and captivating storytelling make Browne's Folly a must-read for those seeking a rich, philosophical journey into the nature of ambition and the consequences of unchecked innovation.

First Page:



By Nathaniel Hawthorne


The Wayside, August 28, 1860.

MY DEAR COUSIN: I should be very glad to write a story, as you request, for the benefit of the Essex Institute, or for any other purpose that might be deemed desirable by my native townspeople. But it is now many years since the epoch of the "Twice Told Tales," and the "Mosses from an Old Manse"; and my mind seems to have lost the plan and measure of those little narratives, in which it was once so unprofitably fertile. I can write no story, therefore; but (rather than be entirely wanting to the occasion) I will endeavor to describe a spot near Salem, on which it was once my purpose to locate such a dreamy fiction as you now demand of me.

It is no other than that conspicuous hill (I really know not whether it lies in Salem, Danvers, or Beverly) which used in my younger days to be known by the name of "Brown's Folly." This eminence is a long ridge rising out of the level country around, like a whale's back out of a calm sea, with the head and tail beneath the surface. Along its base ran a green and seldom trodden lane, with which I was very familiar in my boyhood; and there was a little brook, which I remember to have dammed up till its overflow made a mimic ocean... Continue reading book >>

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