In the early 1840s, Nathaniel Hawthorne briefly participated in an experiment in communal living as a member of the Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education, a transcendentalist community founded by George Ripley. While providing only indistinct glimpses into the life this community, Hawthorne’s diary entries from this time give us access instead to his own introspective, vivid, and unfinished thoughts. These brief excerpts, often taking the form of letters to his fiancee Sophia Peabody, also illustrate Hawthorne’s struggle to live closely to the land, and to reconcile the virtues and the sacrifices inherent in a laborer’s life. The “gold mine,” is a manure pile. “Mr. E” is Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Click here to listen to excerpts from Hawthorne’s diaries.
Hawthorne also has some wise words on the spiritual and the sacred to offer to Sophia, who is apparently getting deep into mysticism; listen to his views on the subject here.