The Marble Faun

The Marble Faun – Nathanie Hawthorne

„The Marble Faun “ was sketched in Italy and prepared for publication mainly in Redcar, England, in 1859-60. The Castle of Monte Beni, the ancestral home of Donatello, the human faun, stands for Villa Montanto, where the author made his home for a time in the summer of 1858 ; and the original of Hilda’s tower is described in the „French and Italian Note-Books,“, May 15, 1858. This romance, which is generally held to be somewhat inferior to the novels of American life, though in an entirely different setting, does not differ greatly from them, or from some of the best short stories, in the nature of its topic and the handling of its characters. Like them it has for its theme a subject of conscience, — the influence of the consciousness of sin and its penalty, in elevating the life of a soul. Donatello’s resemblance to the sculptured faun is typical of his spirit, unawakened, and looking neither before nor after, until his crime puts an end-forever to his joyous holiday existence, and remorse for it develops his intellect and his soul. Kenyon is a good type of a cultivated American, quietly enthusiastic, tolerant and not cynical, loving art and not despising America. Hilda is remarkable for the great moral strength united with her delicacy and sensibility. Her suffering on account of the crime of which she has been merely a witness is strongly contrasted with the attitude of Miriam, whose conscience needs to be brought to a full awakening even after participation in it; her free and strong nature having been bewildered in a maze of wrong, the one escape from which has offered itself in sudden temptation.

The Marble Faun

The Marble Faun

The Marble Faun.

ISBN: 9783849672966.

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Characters in The Marble Faun (from Wikipedia):

This romance focuses on four main characters: Miriam, Hilda, Kenyon, and Donatello.

Miriam is a beautiful painter with an unknown past. Throughout the novel, she is compared to many other women including Eve, Beatrice Cenci, Judith, and Cleopatra. Miriam is pursued by a mysterious, threatening man who is her “evil genius” through life. Hilda is an innocent copyist. She is compared to the Virgin Mary and the white dove. Her simple, unbendable moral principles can make her severe in spite of her tender heart. Miriam and Hilda are often contrasted.

Kenyon is a sculptor who represents rationalist humanism. He cherishes a romantic affection towards Hilda. Donatello, the Count of Monte Beni, is often compared to Adam and is in love with Miriam. Donatello amazingly resembles the marble Faun of Praxiteles, and the novel plays with the characters’ belief that the Count may be a descendant of the antique Faun. Hawthorne, however, withholds a definite statement even in the novel’s concluding chapters and postscript.


(The text of the last section was taken from a Wikipedia entry and is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.)


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