I really like Hawthorne’s writing. He wrote two of my favorite works. But for me, The Marble Faun
is missing something.
The good: Hawthorne makes some really good insights here...exposing the irony of art and situation...what might really go on behind the scenes when creating a piece of art or sculpture, and how this might affect one’s perceptions and reception of the art, especially if the piece of art has a religious theme. Also interesting is his portrayal of the loss of innocence and its effect on conscience and soul.
The bad: What upset me about this novel is the plot, or lack of it. Hawthorne introduces a suspenseful plot that draws the reader in, but I felt his resolution unsatisfactory. I was left with questions that weren’t really answered. Hawthorne’s plot ultimately reflects the themes he brings about when he talks about art, i.e. can the viewer really discern at a glance what was really behind the figure(s) in a painting or piece of sculpture? In other words, who is the model and what was the artist or sculptor thinking as he created his masterpiece? This same idea applies to each of the four main characters and the mysterious model in this book, i.e. what can the reader discern from just viewing the actions characters within the moment. With this view in mind, past and future become negligible, and unfortunately this can be rather frustrating for the reader.
Yet, regardless of how frustrating it is to follow these characters in this murky plot, Hawthorne does make the reader feel sympathy for the faun. I rather liked how he achieved this.