Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review And Commentary on The Free PDf Dark Fantasy Classic -Tanglewood Tales By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Find The Book of Wonder and other tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Book of Wonder by Nathaniel Hawthorne is another of the seminal works of the fantasy tale in America. Hawthorne's influence upon the American fantasy landscape indeed the landscape of dark fantasy still echoes throughout eternity.
Say the name Nathaniel Hawthorne and most people today are going to look blankly at you except the occasional literary professor or English grade school teacher. 
Nathaniel Hawthorne by Brady, 1860-65.jpg

He was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, the only judge involved in the Salem witch trials who never repented of his actions. Nathaniel later added a "w" to make his name "Hawthorne" in order to hide this relation.
Everything begins with the first book, The Book of Wonder from 1852. Basically, Hawthorne rereads and retreads  the classic myths of Greek mythology. 

But he rewrites them in such a way as to allow children access to the myths as a sort of gateway into a more modern style of fantasy. But once again be warned this isn't the fantasy or fairy tale you modern readers might be used to.

Why Hawthorne Is Important To Old School Gaming 
Much of the familiar motifs that we find in old school gaming are present in both Books of Wonder and their effects have echoes throughout the rest of authors who followed Hawthorne. Especially HP Lovecraft and even Steven King.
 Many of the tales which are present in The Book of Wonder and Tanglewood Tales can easily be reworked into a demented mid level to higher level set of adventures. The dreamlike quality of the stories only adds to the weirdness. While everyone is familiar with Edgar Allen Poe, Hawthorne adds a bit more of an unknown quality. His tales have a dark motif that winds its way through in the background of them creating an atmosphere of the strange and haunted. Its even present somewhat in his children's work.
Much of Hawthornes motifs and Gothic trappings are still found in games such as Call of Cthulhu and most recently in the OSR work of Jack Shear from Tales of The Grotesque and Dungeonsque.
Hell I'd go so far as to say that there are even more dream like echoes of this and other works that reign throughout certain dark romance adventures such as Ravenloft and other original D&D adventures.
Wiki has this to say:

Much of Hawthorne's writing centers on New England, many works featuring moral allegories with a Puritan inspiration. His fiction works are considered part of the Romantic movement and, more specifically, Dark romanticism. His themes often center on the inherent evil and sin of humanity, and his works often have moral messages and deep psychological complexity. His published works include novels, short stories, and a biography of his friend Franklin Pierce.An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia says that "The Dreams in the Witch House" was "heavily influenced by Nathaniel Hawthorne's unfinished novel Septimius Felton".

According to wiki : 
The stories are all stories within a story, the frame story being that a Williams Collegestudent, Eustace Bright, is telling these tales to a group of children at Tanglewood, an estate in Lenox, Massachusetts, where Hawthorne lived for a time.
 This style of writing is also present in many of the designs of adventures and modules in D&D and their descendants.

The first Book of Wonder was followed by another volume. 

Tanglewood Tales for Boys and Girls (1853) is a book by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne, a sequel to A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys. It is a re-writing of well-known Greek myths in a volume for children.

The book includes the myths of:
Theseus and the Minotaur (Chapter : "The Minotaur")
Antaeus and the Pygmies (Chapter: "The Pygmies")
Dragon's Teeth (Chapter: "The Dragon's Teeth")
Circe's Palace (Chapter: "Circe's Palace")
ProserpinaCeresPluto, and the Pomegranate Seed (Chapter: "The Pomegranate Seed")
Jason and the Golden Fleece (Chapter: "The Golden Fleece")

Hawthorne wrote introduction, titled "The Wayside", referring to The Wayside in Concord, where he lived from 1852 until his death. In the introduction, Hawthorne writes about a visit from his young friend Eustace Bright, who requested a sequel to Wonder Book, which impelled him to write the Tales. Although Hawthorne informs us in the introduction that these stories were also later retold by Cousin Eustace, the frame stories of A Wonder-Book have been abandoned.

Hawthorne wrote the book while renting a small cottage in the Berkshires, a vacation area for industrialists during the Gilded Age. The owner of the cottage, a railroad baron, renamed the cottage "Tanglewood" in honor of the book written there. Later, a nearby mansion was renamed Tanglewood, where outdoor classical concerts were held, which became a Berkshire summer tradition.
The Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston was named after the book. The book was a favorite of Mary Katherine Farrington, the daughter of Tanglewood developer William Farrington.[1] It reportedly inspired the name of the thickly wooded Tanglewood Island in the state of Washington.[2]

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