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Twice-Told Tales, the Bradley Martin copy

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Twice-Told Tales

Boston: American Stationers Co., 1837

Original green cloth. Minor fading and rubbing. An excellent tight copy. Cloth case.

First edition of Hawthorne’s first collection of short stories. This important collection includes eighteen tales published in magazines and annuals and a newspaper—hence “Twice-Told.” Many have become key works in the American literary canon, but in 1837, Hawthorne was perhaps still “the obscurest man of letters in America” (Hawthorne Centenary Edition).

Hawthorne’s title, Twice-Told Tales, was based on a line from Shakespeare’s Life and Death of King John: “Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale, / Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man.” The tales are “twice-told” because Hawthorne had published them individually in magazines and annuals before collecting them in this, his first published book. “To this little work we would say, ‘Live ever, sweet, sweet book.’ It comes from the hand of a man of genius. Everything about it has the freshness of morning and of May … these tales are national in their character … exciting beauty of his style, as clear as running waters are” (H. W. Longfellow).

“Of Mr. Hawthorne’s Tales we would say emphatically, that they belong to the highest region of Art – an Art subservient to genius of a very lofty order … the style is purity itself. Force abounds. High imagination gleams from every page … We know of few compositions which the critic can more honestly commend than these ‘ Twice-Told Tales.’ As Americans, we feel proud of the book” (Edgar Allan Poe)