The Marble Faun (1860) was the last of the four major romances by Nathaniel Hawthorne. After writing The Blithedale Romance in 1852, Hawthorne, approaching fifty, turned away from publication and obtained a political appointment as American Consul in Liverpool, England, an appointment which he held from 1853 to 1857. In 1858,
Hawthorne and his wife Sophia Peabody moved to Italy and became essentially tourists for a year and a half.
The Marble Faun is Hawthorne's most unusual romance. Writing on the eve of the American Civil War, Hawthorne set his story in a fantastical Italy. The romance mixes elements of a fable, pastoral, gothic novel, and travel guide. The climax comes less than halfway through the story, and Hawthorne intentionally fails to answer many
of the reader's questions about the characters and the plot. (Complaints about this led Hawthorne to add a Postscript to the second edition).
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