Nobody has any conscience about adding to the improbabilities of a marvelous tale.
–Nathaniel Hawthorne

Kindly paraphrase it. What does this quote mean?

1 Answer 1


Humans are, generally, story-driven creatures. When we hear one, there is a tendency to embellish the facts when we pass it on, to entertain the audience. Then the audience does the same when they pass it on, etc. For example, that large fish you caught last week might be a whale shark in a decade's time. The story grows in the retelling.

This particular quote is describing the lack of moral sense (conscience) that humanity seems to suffer when they add to an already very good story. After all, it's a lie to add things that didn't happen to the story, but we do it all the time, simply to seem more exciting, or to make things even more entertaining.

  • Excellebt answer! @8906335678: no, that would be "improbable" as an adjective. The improbabilities (noun) of the story are the specific things in the story which seem improbable. Everyone who tells the story adds more embellished, improbable details.
    – WendiKidd
    Sep 11, 2015 at 6:39

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