Pg 1 of “the Custom House” “... fittingly be addressed only and exclusively to the one heart and mind of perfect sympathy; as if the printed book, thrown at large on the wide world, were certain to find out the divided segment of the writer’s own nature, and complete his circle of existence by bringing him into communion with it.”

I don’t understand this passage at all... Book is only suitable to people who... - Have a heart and mind in sync with that of the author? I’m assuming sympathy = “in sync “ because if it’s = “empathy” it is nonsensical. - Why does the author have a divided segment? What is this divided segment?
- Circle of existence = reincarnation?

  • I'm guessing that about 3/4ths of readers don't understand that passage.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 9, 2018 at 4:05

2 Answers 2


Start with "divided segment". A segment of what? Of the wide world. What segment? A segment of people having the same nature as the writer. The book will find that segment and bring the writer into communion (togetherness, rapport) with it - thus completing his circle of existence (accomplishing his life goals, I think).


Sometimes we'll refer to our significant other as our "other half", or say (as in Jerry Maguire) that they "complete" us. The idea is that someone is so suited to you that you weren't fully whole until you met them. Once you do, and "bring [yourself] into communion" with them - experience a "joining together of minds or spirits" - the entirety (circle) of your existence is made whole (completed).

Hawthorne is speaking of someone who writes so intimately that the only person who could truly appreciate their work is their true soul mate, to the point where it seems that they made it public ("[threw it] at large on the wide world") only to try and seek that person out.

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