S y m p o s i u m : Uns o c ia l T ho u g ht , Unc o m mo n L i v e s, Pa r t 2 OUTSIDE THE CUSTOM-HOUSE? On the Philosophy of Shyness Clark Davis It is generally conceded that Nathaniel Hawthorne was shy. Accounts by those who knew him are clear: âOften, too, he was strangely shy, so much so that he has been known to leave the highway for the fields rather than encounter a group of approaching villagers.â This comment, from an 1881 Harperâs retrospective, is typical. The young William Dean Howells found the famous romancer âvisibly shy to the point of discomfortâ; Oliver Wendell Holmes compared Hawthorne to âa dim room with a little taper of personality burning on the corner of the mantelâ; and Henry James Sr. said that he looked, in social situations, like âa rogue who suddenly finds himself in the company of detectives.â1 These descriptions may sound familiar to anyone who has read Hawthorneâs novels or stories: secrecy, isolation, and the ironies of hiddenness are persistent themes. But on a more basic level, what do we mean by âshynessâ in
Common Knowledge – Duke University Press
Published: Oct 1, 2006
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