Monday, June 09, 2008

Hawthorne and Lugubrious Drollery

I've now finished reading The House of the Seven Gables. I don't intend to give a formal review, but I would just like to quote one passage, from Chapter 19, where Hawthorne is describing the scene when the Italian organ grinder and his monkey (mentioned in an earlier post here) are performing outside the old Pyncheon house:
Was ever before such a grinding out of jigs and waltzes, where nobody was in the cue to dance? Yes, very often. This contrast of intermingling of tragedy with mirth, happens daily, hourly, momently. The gloomy and desolate old house, deserted of life, and with awful Death sitting sternly in its solitude, was the emblem of many a human heart, which, nevertheless, is compelled to hear the thrill and echo of the world's gayety around it.

I was struck by the juxtaposition of the mournful and the amusing in this passage.

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