Monday, October 01, 2007

The same flitting witchcraft made a new one

I was just looking through The House of Seven Gables to see whether I was right in remembering that Hawthorne used the word phantasmagoria, and to see in what sense he might have used it, and I came across a mini-index I kept the summer I read the book. Its entries read: magic picture; looking-glass; illuminated map; sampler; New England Primer; tea set; well view; organ grinder’s organ; soap bubbles; seven-mile panorama. I had guessed what might be on my mind three years hence, and the page number I had marked well view returned me to this passage:
He had a singular propensity, for example, to hang over Maule's Well, and look at the constantly shifting phantasmagoria of figures produced by the agitation of the water over the mosaic-work of colored pebbles, at the bottom. He said that faces looked upward to him there—beautiful faces, arrayed in bewitching smiles—each momentary face so fair and rosy, and every smile so sunny, that he felt wronged at its departure, until the same flitting witchcraft made a new one.


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