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"The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism, is to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdon, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed." —Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Blithedale Romance, 1852

Richard Hunt1977

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Smithsonian American Art Museum

In 1975, Hunt was invited by the Container Corporation of America to create a sculpture for the Great Ideas project, a program that commissioned artists to interpret the writings of the world’s eminent thinkers. Hunt chose a passage from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel Blithedale Romance (1852) as his title and theme. Intending to evoke the feelings generated by the lines beginning “The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one’s self a fool,” Hunt explained that the sculpture’s wheel and open, boxlike structure suggest motion in restraint. The arms that project into space imply man’s striving for heroic deeds.

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  • Title: "The greatest obstacle to being heroic is the doubt whether one may not be going to prove one's self a fool; the truest heroism, is to resist the doubt; and the profoundest wisdon, to know when it ought to be resisted, and when to be obeyed." —Nathaniel Hawthorne, the Blithedale Romance, 1852
  • Creator: Richard Hunt
  • Date Created: 1977
  • Physical Dimensions: 32 x 50 5/8 x 33 3/4 in. (81.3 x 128.7 x 85.8 cm)
  • Credit Line: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Container Corporation of America
  • Artist: Born Chicago, IL 1935
  • Medium: chrome and welded steel

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