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P.'s Correspondence (From "Mosses from an Old Manse")   By: (1804-1864)

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In "P.'s Correspondence" from the collection "Mosses from an Old Manse" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, readers are presented with a fascinating exploration of the human condition through a series of letters exchanged between two distant acquaintances. This epistolary form allows Hawthorne to delve into the depths of human nature, revealing hidden desires, fears, and insights that would otherwise remain concealed.

The narrative begins with the introduction of two seemingly ordinary characters: P. who is the main correspondent, and the recipient of the letters, a woman whose identity remains unknown. As the correspondence progresses, it becomes evident that this exchange is more than just friendly banter – it becomes a conduit for reflection, self-discovery, and a haunting exploration of the darker corners of the human psyche.

Hawthorne's writing style in "P.'s Correspondence" is intricate and thought-provoking. His mastery lies not only in the artful composition of the letters but also in the rich psychological insight he offers. Through his words, the author uncovers the raw emotions and complex motivations that drive human behavior. He skillfully weaves together themes of love, obsession, guilt, and loneliness, leaving readers deeply immersed in the characters' inner struggles.

One of the most impressive aspects of Hawthorne's work is his ability to create a sense of mystery and suspense. With each letter, the reader is plunged deeper into the unknown, as secrets are slowly unveiled, inviting speculation and curiosity. The ambiguous nature of the correspondence adds an air of excitement, leaving readers pondering the deeper meanings behind the words.

Furthermore, "P.'s Correspondence" raises timeless questions about the nature of human connection, emphasizing the power of written words to establish intimacy across great distances. The correspondence serves as a metaphor for the human longing for understanding and companionship, while also highlighting the risks and consequences of revealing oneself completely through writing.

Although the story's length restricts significant character development, Hawthorne compensates through the sheer intimacy achieved in the letters. Readers will find themselves emotionally invested in the lives of these fictional correspondents, fascinated by their ongoing dialogue and the revelations that arise.

"P.'s Correspondence" ultimately encapsulates Hawthorne's ability to explore the complexities of the human heart, laying bare his characters' deepest vulnerabilities and fears. Through his eloquent prose, the author crafts a compelling exploration of the human condition and the power of written words. To read this story is to embark on a journey of self-discovery, confronting the shadowy corners of one's own soul.

First Page:


By Nathaniel Hawthorne


My unfortunate friend P. has lost the thread of his life by the interposition of long intervals of partially disordered reason. The past and present are jumbled together in his mind in a manner often productive of curious results, and which will be better understood after the perusal of the following letter than from any description that I could give. The poor fellow, without once stirring from the little whitewashed, iron grated room to which he alludes in his first paragraph, is nevertheless a great traveller, and meets in his wanderings a variety of personages who have long ceased to be visible to any eye save his own. In my opinion, all this is not so much a delusion as a partly wilful and partly involuntary sport of the imagination, to which his disease has imparted such morbid energy that he beholds these spectral scenes and characters with no less distinctness than a play upon the stage, and with somewhat more of illusive credence. Many of his letters are in my possession, some based upon the same vagary as the present one, and others upon hypotheses not a whit short of it in absurdity. The whole form a series of correspondence, which, should fate seasonably remove my poor friend from what is to him a world of moonshine, I promise myself a pious pleasure in editing for the public eye... Continue reading book >>

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