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    Canonfire :: View topic - "The Great Stone Face" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Canonfire Forum Index -> World of Greyhawk Discussion
    "The Great Stone Face" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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    CF Admin

    Joined: Jun 29, 2001
    Posts: 1431
    From: Wichita, KS, USA

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    Sat Jul 05, 2008 11:17 am  
    "The Great Stone Face" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    I just read Hawthorne's classic short story "The Great Stone Face" and wondered if others were already familiar with it, as well as with Merritt's "Face in the Abyss"? I haven't read the latter yet, so if anyone is familiar with both, is there any chance that Gygax was also alluding to the Hawthorne story as well?

    Project Gutenberg link to the story: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1916/1916.txt

    Here are a few relevant quotations from Hawthorne:

    Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote:

    The Great Stone Face, then, was a work of Nature in her mood of majestie playfulness, formed on the perpendicular side of a mountain by some immense rocks, which had been thrown together in such a position as, when viewed at a proper distance, precisely to resemble the features of the human countenance. It seemed as if an enormous giant, or a Titan,
    had sculptured his own likeness on the precipice. There was the broad
    arch of the forehead, a hundred feet in height; the nose, with its long
    bridge; and the vast lips, which, if they could have spoken, would have
    rolled their thunder accents from one end of the valley to the other.
    True it is, that if the spectator approached too near, he lost the
    outline of the gigantic visage, and could discern only a heap of
    ponderous and gigantic rocks, piled in chaotic ruin one upon another.
    Retracing his steps, however, the wondrous features would again be seen;
    and the farther he withdrew from them, the more like a human face, with
    all its original divinity intact, did they appear; until, as it grew dim
    in the distance, with the clouds and glorified vapor of the mountains
    clustering about it, the Great Stone Face seemed positively to be alive.

    It was a happy lot for children to grow up to manhood or womanhood with
    the Great Stone Face before their eyes, for all the features were noble,
    and the expression was at once grand and sweet, as if it were the glow
    of a vast, warm heart, that embraced all mankind in its affections, and
    had room for more. It was an education only to look at it. According to
    the belief of many people, the valley owed much of its fertility to this
    benign aspect that was continually beaming over it, illuminating the
    clouds, and infusing its tenderness into the sunshine.

    As we began with saying, a mother and her little boy sat at their
    cottage-door, gazing at the Great Stone Face, and talking about it. The
    child's name was Ernest.

    'Mother,' said he, while the Titanic visage miled on him, 'I wish that
    it could speak, for it looks so very kindly that its voice must needs
    be pleasant. If I were to See a man with such a face, I should love him
    dearly.' 'If an old prophecy should come to pass,' answered his mother,
    'we may see a man, some time for other, with exactly such a face as
    that.' 'What prophecy do you mean, dear mother?' eagerly inquired
    Ernest. 'Pray tell me all about it!'

    So his mother told him a story that her own mother had told to her, when
    she herself was younger than little Ernest; a story, not of things that
    were past, but of what was yet to come; a story, nevertheless, so very
    old, that even the Indians, who formerly inhabited this valley, had
    heard it from their forefathers, to whom, as they affirmed, it had been
    murmured by the mountain streams, and whispered by the wind among the tree-tops. The purport was, that, at some future day, a child should
    be born hereabouts, who was destined to become the greatest and noblest personage of his time, and whose countenance, in manhood, should bear an exact resemblance to the Great Stone Face. Not a few old-fashioned people, and young ones likewise, in the ardor of their hopes, still cherished an enduring faith in this old prophecy. But others, who had seen more of the world, had watched and waited till they were weary, and had beheld no man with such a face, nor any man that proved to be much greater or nobler than his neighbors, concluded it to be nothing but an idle tale. At all events, the great man of the prophecy had not yet appeared.


    Thoughts??
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    Allan Grohe (grodog@gmail.com)
    http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/greyhawk.html
    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
    Posts: 3811
    From: So. Cal

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    Sat Jul 05, 2008 3:31 pm  

    Hawthorne's story is actually based upon this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Man_of_the_Mountain

    The world of fantasy indeed exists in the real world. Well, it did until very recently when the Old Man of the Mountain lost his battle with time and the elements and finally slid off of the mountain.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 07, 2004
    Posts: 1844
    From: Mt. Smolderac

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    Sun Jul 06, 2008 7:20 am  

    That's a nice bit of speculation Grodog. You never know what literary influences are going to turn up in GH. That tradition started with Gary Gygax and the first group of 'Hawkers and lives on today just by looking at the articles on CF!
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 26, 2001
    Posts: 171
    From: Pittsburgh

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    Sun Jul 06, 2008 9:35 am  

    I can't see the connection between Hawthorne's story and Greyhawk, other than the name.
    The Face in the Abyss, however, was certainly the inspiration for Fraz Urb Luu's prison, down to the gold tears it cried.

    Scott
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 14, 2005
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    Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:10 pm  

    I don't think there is any connection. I used to visit Hawthorne's great stone face -- what we always called "The Old Man of the Mountain" -- until one day it fell down about 5 or so years ago. I've taken many pictures of it over the years, as I live nearby where it once stood sentry, and it was an oddly sad day for me to see it gone; indeed, to this day, when I drive by its former location, it is strange to not pull over and just stare at it. Now I just keep driving . . .

    Strange how we as humans can become emotionally invested in what is essentially a fluke of nature, but so it goes.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 12, 2001
    Posts: 464
    From: Ithaca, New York

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    Sat Jul 19, 2008 8:28 am  

    Ghul wrote:
    I don't think there is any connection. I used to visit Hawthorne's great stone face -- what we always called "The Old Man of the Mountain" -- until one day it fell down about 5 or so years ago. I've taken many pictures of it over the years, as I live nearby where it once stood sentry, and it was an oddly sad day for me to see it gone; indeed, to this day, when I drive by its former location, it is strange to not pull over and just stare at it. Now I just keep driving . . .

    Strange how we as humans can become emotionally invested in what is essentially a fluke of nature, but so it goes.


    Where do you live, Ghul? I live down around Concord.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sun Jul 20, 2008 9:48 am  

    Hey Nelli,

    I'm actually south of you my friend (small town called Atkinson, so I'm even more of a low-lander than you!), but I often enjoy heading up to the mountains, and will be up there again in about 3 weeks to stay in a cabin. Hey, any good gaming stores in Concord? I usually go to the one if Portsmouth and in Londonderry. I used to also visit the one in Nashua, but it's closed. I like shops that sell out-of-print stuff.
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