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Twice-Told Talesby Nathaniel Hawthorne
Reading Group Guide
1. In a famous review of Twice-Told Tales published in 1842, another American writer who excelled at the short story?Edgar Allan Poe?wrote the following: ?We have always regarded the Tale (using this word in its popular acceptation) as affording the best prose opportunity for display of the highest talent. It has peculiar advantages which the novel does not admit. It is, of course, a far finer field than the essay. It has even points of superiority over the poem.? Using Poe?s insight as a point of departure, discuss the short story form, and how Hawthorne makes use of it.
2. Which stories in this collection do you find most compelling, and why?
3. Discuss the figure of the Minister in ?The Minister?s Black Veil,? one of Hawthorne?s most famous and enigmatic stories. What might account for his strange decision regarding the veil?
4. In the story of the same name, discuss Wakefield?s decision to leave home. Why do you think this premise appealed to Hawthorne? How might we account for Wakefield?s decision?
5. What is ?Mr. Heidegger?s Experiment?? Is it successful? Is there a moral to this story?
6. What themes would you say run through Hawthorne?s stories? What preoccupations or issues unify his work?
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