A key figure in the development of American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) is best remembered as the author of The Scarlet Letter. The New England native also wrote scores of short stories, many of them reflecting his Puritan heritage in their preoccupation with evil, guilt, and sin. Rich in allegorical detail and symbolic imagery, Hawthorne's darkly romantic tales are characterized by the struggle for freedom from social conventions.
This original selection of Hawthorne's short fiction features "The Wives of the Dead," concerning widows' reactions to their losses; "The Gray Champion," a tale of the supernatural; and "Wakefield," in which a runaway husband can't quite let go. Other stories include "The Ambitious Guest," "The Minister's Black Veil," "The May-Pole of Merry Mount," "The Great Carbuncle," "Lady Eleanore's Mantle," "The Celestial Rail-road," "The Seven Vagabonds," and "David Swan." The collection concludes with the haunting fable "Fragments from the Journal of a Solitary Man."