From Margaret B. Moore’s The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
University of Missouri Press, pp. 19.
Hawthorne was far more than a recorder of facts, of course. . . . He examines
the role of the artist who tells the story and interprets the details. He is
usually accurate as to facts, but the meaning of these facts is often his own.
What made the history of Salem come alive to Hawthorne was what he called "fireside
tradition.” Over and over again Hawthorne affirmed what was learned in the chimney-corner.
In an introduction to "Main-Street," Julian Hawthorne noted that for
his father the books on the history of Salem were
supplemented by traditions and tales handed down from generation
to generation, which had come to his knowledge when, as a boy, he sat by the
broad hearthstone of his old-fashioned home, and listened to legends and accounts
of personal experience from the mouths of the old men and women of that day,
now seventy or eighty years gone by. Hawthorne was born in 1804, and the memories
of those who were old when he was young, went back nearly to the beginning of
the previous century, and were re-enforced by lore derived from their own forebears,
which extended to the early years of the New England settlement. *
* NH, Main Street with Introduction by Julian Hawthorne, 7.
Source: Moore, Margaret B. The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1998.