A group of Utopians, dispirited by a mid-nineteenth-century America they view as dissolute, takes to the pastoral life, but finds little satisfaction in its socialist living experiments. Little by little, the members' hypocrisies, contradictions, and ideological and economic paradoxes are exposed—even as they attempt to create the ideal community.
Among the group are Hollingsworth, an idealistic but egotistical reformer; Zenobia, an ardent feminist and exotic beauty; Priscilla, her frail and mysterious sister; Old Moodie, the sisters' manipulative father; Westervelt, a demonic mesmerist; and Miles Coverdale, whose narrative of the Blithedale experiment reveals the sexist and classist oppression permeating the Utopian group.
First published in 1852, The Blithedale Romance was based in part on Hawthorne's disillusioning experiences with the Brook Farm experimental community near Boston in 1841. An engrossing novel about love, idealism, and politics tragically gone amiss, this captivating work bristles with the author's perceptive wit and intelligence.