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The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel…

The House of the Seven Gables (original 1851; edition 2001)

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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5,066None881 (3.54)1 / 232
Title:The House of the Seven Gables
Authors:Nathaniel Hawthorne
Info:Adamant Media Corporation (2001), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Colonial New England, Salem Massachusetts

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



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Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
I was bored to death. It felt like reading a journal, like a case study. Hawthorne really loves his adjectives, a lot of describing and less ACTION! (haha) Where's the ghosts? Where's the so-called "romance", not even a kiss! If the characters are trapped inside the HOUSE, the novel also had me trapped, it seemed to never end!!! It was too gloomy, sad, miserable and all of its synonyms!

The last 3 chapters were actually bearable. Maybe because its nearing the end (hehe). Nice happy ending to a really really gloomy book. ( )
  krizia_lazaro | Mar 6, 2014 |
What an odd little story. Nathaniel Hawthorne's second fictional foray into Puritanical New England has the frame of a story — a family curse, an unsolved mystery, a pair of lovers, a properly solemn and hauntworthy mansion — but I find the plot recedes to secondary importance next to the character sketches. These are richly drawn, with whole chapters devoted to the examination of one person's inner workings.

The story is an exploration of revenge, atonement, ghosts, mystery, and money. Far in the past, there was a dispute over the land on which the Pyncheon house was built. The harsh Puritan Colonel Pyncheon used his influence to have his opponent, Matthew Maule, executed for witchcraft. Maule cursed the Pyncheon family ("God will give you blood to drink!"), and Colonel Pyncheon died alone in his study the night of the housewarming — choking on his own blood. The present-day mystery comes in with the loss of the deeds to Indian territory that would make the Pyncheons rich again; did Maule's curse destroy them, too?

The current descendants of the Pyncheon line are less imposing, but no less interesting. I'll never forget Hawthorne's opening portrait of Hepzibah Pyncheon, the quintessential old maid of an old family, with all the dignity and hidden torture of poverty. She is not beautiful, is Hepzibah, and her redeeming qualities of faithfulness and compassion are tempered by others less attractive, like querulousness, weakness, and lack of imagination. She is, quite simply, human.

Clifford Pyncheon, Hepzibah's older brother, is finally home after a long imprisonment for the murder of his uncle many years before. His mind is broken and he is a pathetic aesthete, loving beautiful things but twisted by the ugliness of his life's realities. He is another facet of the mystery, because the reader doesn't learn why he was imprisoned (and whether or not he committed the crime) until the very end.

Into this oppressive atmosphere comes the young and lovely Phoebe, a distant cousin in the Pyncheon family tree who soon becomes indispensable to her older relations. Of Phoebe I have less to say; she is quite a winning creature on the pages of the book, but Hepzibah is by far the more memorable.

Holgrave, the lodger, is another interesting character, but he too recedes behind a more flamboyantly drawn character, Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon. In Jaffrey Pyncheon the harsh and unrelenting spirit of old Colonel Pyncheon lives again, but this time under a highly respectable guise. Hawthorne spends quite a bit of time on Jaffrey, turning him this way and that, trying to pierce the inequities and deficiencies of soul that could produce such a moral monster. I found these examinations to be some of the most riveting passages of the novel.

But then, Hawthorne has always been able to fascinate me with his character studies... I've actually read The Scarlet Letter both for a college assignment and then again later for pleasure (strange, I know). There's just something magnetic about his prose and how he so easily navigates the inner lives of his characters. He makes me believe in them.

I have a more charitable view of the Puritans than does Hawthorne, who counted among his ancestors some who played a role in the Salem Witch trials. The Puritans are people like anyone else, and the notorious members of their tribe always seem to overshadow the Puritan men and women of true godliness and spirituality. What I have read of the Puritans' religious writings has been sterling, despite the popular image they bear of self-righteous cruelty.

I'm not sure I will revisit this book; for all its atmospheric settings and unforgettable characters, it hangs together oddly somehow. Not sure why. ( )
1 vote wisewoman | Jan 28, 2014 |
Synopsis:"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."

Initially I found myself very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book set in 19th century Puritan New England. There was an eerie quality, a quiet subtle sense of suspense that drew me to find answers without a heart pounding urgency to solve the mysteries behind the inhabitants of the house. I was slowly drawn into the riddles of the Pyncheon family. What is the identity of the boarder in the house and how does he fit into the picture? What has so saddened those gentle people living there? Why is such fear and loathing shown towards their cousin, Judge Pyncheon? What could possibly have been done to them to bring them to these straits?

Hawthorne painted such a vivid picture of Hepzibah Pycheon, the aged owner of the house who finds herself trapped by her heritage and beaten down by life and her fall from a wealthy gentile life to one where she finds herself with the necessity to now earn her own bread although totally ill-equipped to do so.

"These names of gentleman and lady had a meaning, in the past history of the world, and conferred privileges, desirable or otherwise, on those entitled to bear them. In the present - and still more in the future condition of society - they imply, not privilege, but restriction!"

I can picture this woman, I know her and although I could not love her, I grew to admire tremendously yet also pitied her as the book progressed. Here was a woman who had withdrawn herself from society so totally as to be like the walking dead. The cast of characters were each shown to be more flawed and damaged than the next one until we are introduced to Phoebe, a young, gay cousin arriving from the country, bringing life and a measure of happiness back into the house. Hawthorne's beautiful prose flowed so smoothly that I just glided along with it.

On the downside, there were portions of the book that were just a little too saccharine, almost wince causing: " The deepest pathos of Phoebe's voice and song, moreover, came sifted through the golden texture of a cheery spirit, and was somehow so interfused with the quality thence acquired, that one's heart felt all the lighter for having wept at it."

By page 200 the same slow tempo that charmed me at the beginning of the book started instead to cloy. I was losing patience and yearned for something to happen, anything at all, just get to it, give me some answers. When Hawthorne finally revealed the truth about his characters and their history it was anticlimactic, I had already guessed what his revelations would be so there was no surprise left for me.

Overall, I did enjoy the book but did not love it.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5*
( )
1 vote mlbelize | Jan 27, 2014 |
I listened to this book but it was a struggle because I really didn't like the narrator's voice. She seemed forced much of the time and it didn't help that the narrative, much of the time, seemed contrived.

The premise of the family that owns the house, the Pyncheons, has been cursed by the original owner of the land, Mathew Maule, because he was accused of witchcraft by Colonel Pyncheon in order to get his hands on the property. The current owner, Hepzibah Pyncheon, has fallen on hard times and has had to open a shop in the house in order to earn some money. Hepzibah is not a very social woman and it is doubtful if she would have made a go of the shop if Phoebe, a distant relation, had not turned up. Phoebe helps with the shop. Then when Hepzibah's brother Clifford returns to the house from a long absence (possibly in jail) a broken man she helps with his care. She also spruces up the house and garden with some help from the lodger Holgrove who is a daguerrotypist. A cousin, Jaffrey Pyncheon, who has become quite wealthy and a judge shows up offering to help the family but he has an ulterior motive. When he is found dead, Clifford and Hepzibah flee the house making it look like Clifford has killed him. All comes right in the end but it seems to take a long time to do so.

One more book to strike off the 1001 list but otherwise I didn't enjoy it. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jan 18, 2014 |
I feel kind of silly reviewing a literary classic. Obviously, it's a great book. If you're looking for a description, it's a comic/tragic cautionary tale about how wealth corrupts even the most innocent and noble. Personally, I think it should be required reading for every single person in the world. ( )
  whomoi | Jan 8, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (93 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hawthorne, Nathanielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brooks, Van WyckIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fogle, Richard HarterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lathrop, George ParsonsIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
MacEwen, MaryIntroductionsecondary 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.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:39 -0400)

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

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