Celestial Railroad

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Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804—1864) American novelist and short-story writer


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Allegorical tale by Hawthorne, published in 1843 and collected in Mosses from an Old Manse (1846).

The narrator travels the way of Christian in Pilgrim's Progress, from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City. Instead of going afoot, he finds that modern achievement has made possible an easy, convenient Celestial Railroad, on which he rides in the company of affable, bluff Mr. Smooth-it-away, who scoffs at the difficult path of old-fashioned pilgrims. The ancient landmarks and institutions are all changed, and on arriving at the end of the line, the passengers expect to cross the river by steam ferryboat. But here Mr. Smooth-it-away deserts them, laughing and showing his identity by breathing smoke and flame. About to drown, the narrator suddenly awakens to “thank Heaven it was a Dream!”

Subjects: Literature.

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