One of ’s great romances, The Blithedale Romance draws upon the author’s experiences at Brook Farm, the short-lived utopian community where Hawthorne spent much of 1841. Blithedale (“Happy Valley”), another would-be modern Arcadia, is the stage for Hawthorne’s grimly comic tragedy (Henry James famously called the novel “the lightest, the brightest, the liveliest” of Hawthorne’s “unhumorous fictions”). In his introduction, considers biographical and historical contexts and offers a fresh appreciation of the novel’s ironic first-person narrator. The John Harvard Library edition reproduces the authoritative text of The Blithedale Romance in The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Robert S. Levine is Professor of English and a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland.