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Monday, July 4, 2016

The potency and power of words

“Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne
Born on the 4th of July in 1804, Hawthorne became one of the prominent mid-19th Century American writers, primarily through his writings about his native  New England. His fiction works are considered part of the Romantic movement and, more specifically, Dark romanticism, and his themes often center on the inherent evil and sin of humanity with moral messages and deep psychological complexity.

The most prominent story that has lasted through the ages, of course, is his tale of adultery, The Scarlet Letter.  It’s success catapulted him from near-obscurity into the center of the New England writing movement that included such prominent writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  He took advantage of his new popularity to rapidly publish The House of the Seven Gables, Wonder Book for Girls and Boys, and a new version of his earlier book Twice-Told Tales. 

The great-great grandson of one of the judges at the Salem Witch Trials, Hawthorne wrote often about Puritanic themes and espoused being pure, accurate and meticulous, especially when it came to the power that writers' words can convey.   “Accuracy is the twin brother of honesty; inaccuracy of dishonesty,” he noted. “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”

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