blonde madonna wrote:I think I see what you mean Manna,
I think I fell off the carousel on this one.
But I don't doubt that there is something to it.
Hawthorne's Marble Faun
is one the few novels I have read.
And I read it in Rome, at a very impressionable age, so that the names
MIRIAM, HILDA, KENYON, and DONATELLO, came to represent real
magic to me.
So much so, that later, when I first heard LC's "So Long Marianne",
I had no doubt that he really had Hawthorne's "Miriam" in mind.
The Marble Faun
is Hawthorne's most unusual romance,
and possibly one of the strangest major works of American fiction.
Writing on the eve of the American Civil War, Hawthorne set his story
in a fantastical Italy. The romance mixes elements of a fable, pastoral,
gothic novel, and travel guide. The climax comes less than halfway
through the story, and Hawthorne intentionally fails to answer many
of the reader's questions about the characters and the plot.
(Complaints about this led Hawthorne to add a facetious Postscript
to the second edition, wherein he continues to fail - purposefully
- to answer most of these questions.)
Quoting from that Postscript --
There comes to the author, from many readers of the foregoing pages,
a demand for further elucidations respecting the mysteries of the story.
He reluctantly avails himself of the opportunity afforded by a new edition,
to explain such incidents and passages as may have been left too much
in the dark; ...
"The atmosphere is getting delightfully lucid," observed I,
"but there are one or two things that still puzzle me.
Could you tell me—and it shall be kept a profound secret, I assure you
what were Miriam's real name and rank, and precisely the nature
of the troubles that led to all those direful consequences?"
"Is it possible that you need an answer to those questions?"
exclaimed Kenyon, with an aspect of vast surprise.
"Have you not even surmised Miriam's name?
Think awhile, and you will assuredly remember it.
If not, I congratulate you most sincerely; for it indicates
that your feelings have never been harrowed by one of the most
dreadful and mysterious events that have occurred within the present century!"
"Well," resumed I, after an interval of deep consideration,
"I have but few things more to ask. Where, at this moment, is Donatello?"
"The Castle of Saint Angelo," said Kenyon sadly,
turning his face towards that sepulchral fortress,
"is no longer a prison; but there are others which have dungeons as deep,
and in one of them, I fear, lies our poor Faun."
"And why, then, is Miriam at large?" I asked.
"Call it cruelty if you like, not mercy," answered Kenyon.
"But, after all, her crime lay merely in a glance. She did no murder!"
"Only one question more," said I, with intense earnestness.
"Did Donatello's ears resemble those of the Faun of Praxiteles?"
"I know, but may not tell," replied Kenyon, smiling mysteriously.
"On that point, at all events, there shall be not one word of explanation."