The house of the seven gables A romance

Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864

Book - 2010

Hawthorne's tale about the brooding hold of the past over the present is a complex one, twisting and turning its way back through many generations of a venerable New England family, one of whose members was accused of witchcraft in 17th century Salem. More than 200 years later, we meet the family in its decaying, gabled mansion, still haunted by the presence of dead ancestors: Hepzibah, an elderly gentlewoman fallen on had times; her ineffectual brother, Clifford; and young Phoebe, a countr...y maiden who cheerfully takes it upon herself to care for her two doddering relations. There's also Holgrave, a free-spirited daguerreotypist, who makes a surprising transformation into conventional respectability at the story's end. These people seem to be symbols for Hawthorne's theme more than full-bodied characters in their own right. As such, it can only be difficult for today's young adults to identify with them, especially since they are so caught up in a past that is all but unknown to present day sensibilities. Talented Joan Allen, twice nominated for Academy Awards, reads the tale in a clear, luminous voice. Because she has chosen not to do voices, however, it is sometimes difficult to tell which character is speaking. Still, she is more than equal to the task of handling Hawthorne's stately prose in a presentation that will be a good curriculum support for students of Hawthorne or those seeking special insight into this work of fiction. Carol Katz, Harrison Library, NY.

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FICTION/Hawthorne, Nathaniel
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Subjects
Genres
Historical fiction
Paranormal fiction
Published
New York : Signet Classics [2010]
Language
English
Physical Description
302 p. ; 18 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (p. 299-302).
ISBN
9780451531629
0451531620
Main Author
Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864 (-)
Other Authors
Katherine Howe (-), Brenda Wineapple
  • Old Pyncheon family
  • Little shopwindow
  • First customer
  • Day behind the counter
  • May and November
  • Maule's well
  • Guest
  • Pyncheon of today
  • Clifford and Phoebe
  • Pyncheon garden
  • Arched window
  • Daguerreotypist
  • Alice Pyncheon
  • Phoebe's good-by
  • Scowl and smile
  • Clifford's chamber
  • Flight of two owls
  • Governor Pyncheon
  • Alice's posies
  • Flower of Eden
  • Departure.
Review by Publisher Summary 1

This enduring novel of crime and retribution vividly reflects the social and moral values of New England in the 1840s. Nathaniel Hawthorne's gripping psychological drama concerns the Pyncheon family, a dynasty founded on pious theft, who live for generations under a dead man's curse until their house is finally exorcised by love. Hawthorne, by birth and education, was instilled with the Puritan belief in America's limitless promise. Yet - in part because of blemishes on his own family history - he also saw the darker side of the young nation. Like his twentieth-century heirs William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hawthorne peered behind propriety's façade and exposed the true human condition.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

This enduring novel of crime and retribution vividly reflects the social and moral values of New England in the 1840s. Nathaniel Hawthorne's gripping psychological drama concerns the Pyncheon family, a dynasty founded on pious theft, who live for generations under a dead man's curse until their house is finally exorcised by love. Hawthorne, by birth and education, was instilled with the Puritan belief in America's limitless promise. Yet - in part because of blemishes on his own family history - he also saw the darker side of the young nation. Like his twentieth-century heirs William Faulkner and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Hawthorne peered behind propriety's façade and exposed the true human condition.