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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Scarlet Letter (original 1850; edition 1961)

by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Maxwell Geismar (Afterword)

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24,19326845 (3.39)2 / 791
Title:The Scarlet Letter
Authors:Nathaniel Hawthorne
Other authors:Maxwell Geismar (Afterword)
Info:Washington Square Press, Inc., New York,
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, literature, American literature, 19th century

Work details

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

  1. 132
    The Crucible by Arthur Miller (SandSing7, Morteana)
  2. 112
    The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (chrisharpe)
  3. 30
    Elective Affinities by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (LCBrooks)
    LCBrooks: Allows for interesting comparisons on the subject of double marriage.
  4. 20
    Too Late The Phalarope by Alan Paton (aulsmith)
    aulsmith: Sex and guilt in Calvinist cultures.
  5. 20
    Blood and Guts in High School by Kathy Acker (alaskayo)
    alaskayo: Contains a lot of parallels between the two heroines. Acker's '77 novel also contains a scathing deconstruction of Hawthorne's the Scarlet Letter somewhere down the line. If you haven't heard of her, take note. She's worth the attention.
  6. 10
    Elsie Venner A Romance of Destiny by Oliver Wendell Holmes (Midnightdreary)
    Midnightdreary: Similar exploration of the question of sin, inherited or otherwise.
  7. 21
    The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (chrisharpe, kxlly)
  8. 01
    Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell (CurrerBell)
    CurrerBell: Hester Prynne has a spunkiness that Ruth Hilton lacks.
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English (255)  Spanish (6)  French (3)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All (268)
Showing 1-5 of 255 (next | show all)
The antique language is extended and difficult to wade through if you're not used to it or only picking-it-up-and-putting-it down. But the plot itself, the dialouge, the characterization... everything is top-notch. An excellent novel, but not something I would recommend for casual or sporadic reading. ( )
  J9Plourde | Jun 13, 2017 |
I love Hawthorne's style, and this book did not disappoint. I have to say, that while I understood the symbolism of Pearl and her behavior, to this day she's one of the funniest characters I've ever come in contact with. Every time she entered the plot I knew something hilarious was about to ensue, at the great misfortune of Hester. An important novel for the sake of judgement, but if you don't want to read it for that, read it for Pearl. ( )
  mlmarks98 | May 13, 2017 |
Fascination story of punishment and the different ways that people can deal with it. ( )
  kale.dyer | Apr 13, 2017 |
I was semi-actively updating goodreads at the time I read this, yet didn't get to the review till two years later, which says something of how busy I was at that period and how weak my reaction to it was. I actually like Hawthorne's writing style and appreciate the content to an extent, but the I associate the fame of this book with long-standing puritanism in US culture (that only finds new ways of establishing itself even as regards this book alone). Read for the American Lit/19th c. fashions course and felt glad that it was assigned because it is one of those "must reads" that I would never have read on my own. Always think it's a bad sign when that occurs. There are books I wouldn't have read when I did if they weren't assigned ([b:Middlemarch|19089|Middlemarch|George Eliot|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386924110s/19089.jpg|1461747]), but would have made it to on my own time, and I know this isn't one of them. ( )
  likecymbeline | Apr 1, 2017 |
I was dealing with guilt and shame, so I went in with specific expectations, having been recommended this book, but I did not find it satisfying on either count.

I wanted to know so much more about Hester's daily and inner experiences of shame and guilt but we were barely given anything on that. Instead, only later on, we got a decent glimpse of Dimmesdale's internal struggle but that one did not go beyond a couple of chapters either. Neither was the book a sociological study of shame and guilt, if not psychological. At the end I can only see it as more of work of an author in love with heavy-handed symbolism, be it in the letter A or Pearl or Chillingworth, than any real study of those emotions.

Putting aside my expectations, given that I like to be able to appreciate what a book is doing even if it's not to my liking, the question for me has been, what IS the book about, what theme is it trying to develop, and in what way is it seen as one of the greatest if not THE greatest American novel?

Aside from the above themes, I did not see it as an exceptional work in other ways, for instance, of romance or one exploring religion. I figured one option is to see its greatness in (historically) breaking new grounds. Another consideration is that I don't recall reading book that relied heavily on symbols and so maybe this is an exceptional book produced by someone who was a symbolist, and so the work should be judged from that perspective.

The book basically left me confused but I do believe that Hawthorne is a very good writer and there are sections of the book that attest to that, but this sense of not knowing what he was trying to do and the lack of direction was quite frustrating so hence my rating. ( )
  Partlee | Mar 10, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 255 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (105 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hawthorne, Nathanielprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Baym, NinaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Coetzee, J. M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Connolly, Thomas E.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dwiggins, W AIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Francisco, SellénTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harding, BrianEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, DickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Levin, HarryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marx, LeoForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wauters, AnnieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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A throng of bearded men, in sad-colored garments and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.
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This is the main work for The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553210092, Mass Market Paperback)

Hailed by Henry James as "the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country," Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter reaches to our nation's historical and moral roots for the material of great tragedy. Set in an early New England colony, the novel shows the terrible impact a single, passionate act has on the lives of three members of the community: the defiant Hester Prynne; the fiery, tortured Reverend Dimmesdale; and the obsessed, vengeful Chillingworth.

With The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne became the first American novelist to forge from our Puritan heritage a universal classic, a masterful exploration of humanity's unending struggle with sin, guilt and pride.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:14 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Hester Prynne, a young wife in colonial New England, is sentenced to wear a scarlet "A" on her clothing, as a public acknowledgement of her sin of adultery.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.39)
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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0142437263, 0143105442, 0141199458

Library of America Paperback Classics

An edition of this book was published by Library of America Paperback Classics.

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Columbia University Press

An edition of this book was published by Columbia University Press.

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400100607, 1400108551

Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909438901, 190943891X

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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