The three short stories in this book give a perfect flavor of N. Hawthorne's masterful literary art: social relevance, psychological insight, irony, sarcasm, allegoric and symbolic power.
In `Rappaccini's Daughter', a beautiful garden (`Was this garden the Eden of the present world?') contains only poisonous flowers. Its gardener is a physician whose experiments serve only his diabolic and morbid goal of total control over his daughter.
In `Young Goodman Brown', a young man undergoes the hallucination of a black mass `by a score of the church members of Salem village'. Its aim is `to penetrate the deep mystery of sin.' He will be marked for the rest of his life.
`A Select Party' is held in a castle in the air. Those invited are `fantastic masquers, rendering heroism and nature alike ridiculous': the representative of Posterity (`I expect to owe you nothing, unless it be certain national debt'), Master Genius, Man of Fancy, but also `such rarities in the world as an incorruptible Patriot, a Priest without worldly ambitions, a Poet who felt no jealousy or a Reformer untrammeled by his theory.'
Vanitas vanitatum revisited.
These literary gems should not be missed.