The passage is beautiful, but I simply can't make sense of the descriptor "unpicturesque prolixity" where he writes

Soon, likewise, my old native town .. with only imaginary inhabitants to people its wooden houses, and walk its homely lanes, and the unpicturesque prolixity of its main street.

Although I feel I get what he means: its prosaic appearance. See Cliff's Notes on The Scarlet Letter and SparkNotes on The Scarlet Letter.

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He is certainly aesthetically apposite in his word choices to describe the mundane appearance of the unphotogenic main street when he refers to it as possessing 'unpicturesque prolixity' here at the internet archive edition of The Scarlet Letter.

The reference earlier to his home town as an “overgrown village” suggests that he is using the term metaphorically to describe the main street as being overly long and elaborate ( note the multiple merchants names ) which aligns with the general definition of prolixity Defined here at merriam-webster

Hawthorne uses prolixity again in another work The House of the Seven gables where ( Chapter XI, p 197 )he refers to a monkey's long and luxuriant tail as ‘curling out into preposterous prolixity ': again using the term to express excessive length . So Hawthorne favours the use of 'prolixity' in these two examples to mean 'great and tedious length' instead of the more commoner usage of 'boring verbosity'.

I might just leave it there, but I have been inspired to versify in rap as follows:

       Lengthy perhaps not wordy Verbosity

Yo, listen up, let us set the record straight,

About Nathaniel Hawthorne, and his literary weight,

He used the phrase "picturesque prolixity,"

Grammatically tight, syntactically correctly.

This man, he knew his way around a word,

His phrasings proper, anything else is absurd,

His style, more than just a simple choice,

In every word, you can hear his voice.

Now Hawthorne, he had that aesthetic touch,

His words painted pictures, emotions and such,

"Picturesque prolixity," not just a phrase,

But a testament to his genius, deserving of praise.

So don’t diss my Bro Natt for his unique style,

He was crafting art, mile after mile,

His words, a journey, a literary explosion,

Respect his craft, that is the right decision.



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