Nathaniel Hawthorne & Frederick Douglass

hawthorneTwo seminal 19th-century works – both significant in the evolution of American thought and writing, but rarely considered in relation to one another – are the focus of a Burns Library exhibition, “Nathaniel Hawthorne and Frederick Douglass: Texts and Contexts.” The exhibition, on display through Jan. 24, showcases Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance (1852) and Douglass’ “The Heroic Slave” (1853). Blithedale, Hawthorne’s third major novel, is set in a Utopian socialist community that is undermined by the self-interested behavior of its members. Douglass’ novella follows the development of an enslaved man who first escapes from bondage and then leads a rebellion on board a slave ship. “While Hawthorne’s novel is meditative and ambiguous and Douglass’ story is direct and argumentative, each draws on actual events and features characters who attempt to reform or escape unjust systems,” explains Professor of English Paul Lewis, the exhibition curator. “Juxtaposed, the works suggest different ways in which literature absorbs, reflects, engages and contributes to contemporaneous social, economic, political, and cultural life.” More from Boston College Chronicle.

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