Book Description: A collection of short fiction from a writer who helped to shape the course of American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Selected Tales and Sketches" is introduced by Michael J. Colacurcio in "Penguin Classics". With a determined commitment to the history of his native land, Nathaniel Hawthorne revealed, more incisively than any writer of his generation, the nature of a distinctly American consciousness. But Hawthorne was highly - often wickedly - unorthodox in his account of life in early America, and his precisely constructed plots quickly engage the reader's imagination. Collected here are stories such as "Young Goodman Brown", in which a young Puritan man is haunted by a vision of satanic rituals, gradually losing his faith; "The Haunted Mind", which contemplates the surreal nature of dreams as a gateway to supernatural realms; "Ethan Brand", an eerie meditation on the nature of sin; and "The Minister's Black Veil", in which a small-town clergyman undergoes a frightening transformation. Written from the 1820s-to the 1850s, these works are informed by themes that reappear in Hawthorne's longer works: "The Scarlet Letter", "The House of the Seven Gables" and "The Blithedale Romance". And, as Michael J. Colacurcio points out in his introduction, they are themes that are now deeply embedded in the American literary tradition. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64) was born in Salem, Massachusetts. In 1825 he graduated from Bowdoin College, Maine, and returned to Salem determined to become a writer. He joined Brook Farm, a utopian experiment in communal living, before marrying in 1842. His writing had already secured some success with his "Twice-Told Tales", but it was the publication of "The Scarlet Letter in 1850" that brought him immediate recognition, followed a year later by "The House of the Seven Gables". If you enjoyed "Selected Tales" and "Sketches", you might like Edgar Allen Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher and Other Writings", also available in "Penguin Classics".