March 17, 2004

Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Twenty Days with Julian"

Nathaniel Hawthorne's diary as he takes care of his son Julian"It really does seem as if he has baited me with more questions, references, and observations, than mortal father ought to be expected to endure." In the summer of 1851, Nathaniel Hawthorne's wife took the couple's two daughters on an extended trip, leaving the him to care for their five year-old son, Julian.

The author's account of this adventure originally appeared in the massive American Notebooks, but last year, the New York Review of Books published it separately as Twenty Days with Julian and Little Bunny by Papa (with an introduction by Paul Auster). It's, in Auster's words, "a meticulous, blow-by-blow account of a man taking care of a young child by himself," and it's hilarious, insighful, and inspiring. Special guest star: Herman Melville.

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