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The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel…
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The House of the Seven Gables (1851)

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The dark and suppressive nature of a Hawthorne novel is not new to our group. We read The Scarlet Letter a few years ago, so there were no big surprises this month with our return visit to this American classic writer.
It could be the time of year, but most struggled to complete this (what some described as tedious) novel and were at odds to comprehend exactly where Hawthorne meant to go with it. The plot seemed non-existent, which didn’t help getting you through the monotonous rambling descriptions Hawthorne so loves.
We discussed the style that seemed so popular in the day and compared its likeness to Dickens and Bronte. In a time when there was little in the way of visual entertainment, novels of this sort would have been an important diversion from everyday life. So Hawthorne’s long and illustrative narrative may well be daunting to us modern readers, but we can see how it worked in a time of romance novels (when in fact all novels were considered ‘romance’).
The term ‘gothic’ was also bantered around and Cathy, who did not think she would take to this book, found herself quite enjoying this dark, boding tale and believes she could be reading one of the first gothic novels written.
In the end, we decided Hawthorne was able to weave an exemplary kind of magic with his words (his many, many words) and that alone is worthy of consideration, and a read.
  jody12 | Jan 27, 2017 |
Great gothic romance. The Pyncheon family is haunted by their Puritan, witch-burning past, manifest plainly in gloomy, shadowy house of seven gables. Fun stuff. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
Yes, I know it's a classic; it's also a very slow story in which nothing really happens, except what is totally predictable and, plot-wise, pedestrian. However, the features that are staples of Gothic romance were still fashionably new in 1851, and Hawthorne had a few unusual twists in the genere.
So what keeps people coming back? Hawthorne is masterly at description of people and places, and his occasional finely-tuned witticisms are delightfully droll. As Lady Bracknell demanded of fiction, the good ended happily and the bad unhappily, and that's what mattered most.
SPOILER:The long extended exhortation to Judge Pyncheon to leave his chair and go about his business (in the Scrooge tradition pre-conversion) is well done, although possibly overplayed. Hawthorne is undoubtedly venting some of his own spleen here, but the artistry is undeniable. Only a very obtuse reader will fail to realize that the Judge still sits because he cannot rise, having succumbed to the curse as expected.
NOTES: pg 20: the fate of all popular literature (amusingly depicted);
pg 201-203: the oppressiveness of guilt suppressed;
pg 214: consequences of evil

I kept reading to find the hidden staircase that is an enchanting feature of the restored "source" house in Salem, but it never shows up. Maybe it's in an earlier draft, as suggested here, in a very good pictorial tour of the house.
http://www.thedistractedwanderer.com/2011/12/virtual-visit-to-salems-house-of-se......

Apparently someone wrote a PhD dissertation on the restoration architect who added it in the early 1900s, but the paper is not yet online.
http://www.7gables.org/event/missing-gables-and-the-secret-staircase-joseph-ever......

One film, of the four video works and one opera produced to date, was an early vehicle for Vincent Price, who was not the actor originally cast as Clifford. The screenwriter changed the plot details considerably, resulting in this opinion: Film historian and literary critic Thomas S. Hischak has argued that the final script ended up less about the novel and more about "variations on a theme by Hawthorne".[15]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_House_of_the_Seven_Gables

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_House_of_the_Seven_Gables_(film)

More on the house: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/28/arts/design/28anti.html
More on Dr. Orwig: http://www.northeastern.edu/camd/architecture/people/timothy-orwig/ ( )
  librisissimo | Jan 8, 2017 |
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne; (5*)

This is the story of the Pyncheon family that is slowly becoming extinct. We meet Hepzibah Pyncheon, poor and old, who lives alone in the family mansion. This house was built with seven gables, thus the title. Without funds Hepzibah opens a penny shop to earn money to live on. Other characters in this tale are her brother Clifford, imprisoned because of the acts of Jaffrey Pyncheon, a wealthy judge who lives in his own country manor and is determined to find an ancient deed to other Pyncheon property.
When the penny shop seems to be failing the young Phoebe Pyncheon appears. She is a lovely, vivacious, and enthusiastic young woman who lives in the country and has come to visit her cousins. She enjoys running the penny store and brightens the gloomy atmosphere in the house. When Clifford returns from prison she entertains him with her charms. In addition she meets Holgrave, a young boarder in the house and romance blossoms.
This story is often considered a romance but I think it is more a story about the Pyncheon family and the curse it endured. Hawthorne sets the stage by giving us an overview of how the original Pyncheon obtained the property and built the house. His actions brought about a curse from the original land owner that is to last throughout the family's existence.
There are ghosts and strange occurrences in the house and we are exposed to the lives of former residents. But life improves for the current residents when another tragedy strikes the Pyncheon family, particularly the judge. Hepzibah and Clifford temporarily leave their ancestral home. It all comes to a climax as the author weaves the tale into an ending that is unexpected but makes the reader smile. Many like to look at the symbolism used to represent aspects of the human condition. I have never been certain that Hawthorne chose to approach the novel in this manner. Nevertheless I like this tale more each time I read it. ( )
3 vote rainpebble | Oct 4, 2016 |
I can't believe I waited this long to read this book. Excellent. ( )
  Rich_B | Jun 2, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (90 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hawthorne, Nathanielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brooks, Van WyckIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Colby, Homer W.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, Cathy N.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fogle, Richard HarterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Furst, ClydeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lathrop, George ParsonsIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacEwen, MaryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moffett, H. Y.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peters, DonadaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schirmer, DukeAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stern, Milton R.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns, stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst.
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This is the main work for The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It should not be combined with any adaptation, abridgement, etc.
ISBN 0809598752 is a Wildside Press publication.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553212702, Mass Market Paperback)

In a sleepy little New England village stands a dark, weather-beaten, many-gabled house. This brooding mansion is haunted by a centuries-old curse that casts the shadow of ancestral sin upon the last four members of the distinctive Pyncheon family. Mysterious deaths threaten the living. Musty documents nestle behind hidden panels carrying the secret of the family’s salvation—or its downfall.

Hawthorne called The House of the Seven Gables “a Romance,” and freely bestowed upon it many fascinating gothic touches. A brilliant intertwining of the popular, the symbolic, and the historical, the novel is a powerful exploration of personal and national guilt, a work that Henry James declared “the closest approach we are likely to have to the Great American Novel.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:13 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

The curse of Matthew Maule descends on seven generations of the inhabitants of an old New England house.

» see all 26 descriptions

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14 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102065, 1400110793

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