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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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21,45822462 (3.39)1 / 643
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

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

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English (214)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (224)
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Most people of todays time don't seem to be able to really get this book. It is written for the time of old when women were homemakers and men ruled all. If things were a sin it was likely a womans fault and everything that happened that wasn't typical was considered either a sign from God or the devils work. So, here we have a story of a very naughty girl who got pregnant out of wedlock. So, by custom she was inprisoned and judged because of her sin. This is where the story begins. She keeps her mouth shut about who helped create this heathen child with her, which shows her own character. Then the story goes through the details of what becomes of her life. The town gossips have their hayday and later in the book people from out of town come to town just to see the girl with the scarlet letter. You see how many people treat her because she chose to not move away but to stay and face her persecutors head on. The whole time she also has to keep seeing her thought to be dead husband who is imitating someone else. All the while she faces many more trials and triumphs them all. She almost gets to run away with her love who fathered her child but circumstances keep that from happening. However slightly sad the ending is, it also ties up many loose ends. Overall, even with some rather drawn out details it is written amazingly well and a great read for anyone. ( )
  jessica_reads | Mar 24, 2015 |
Dreadfully dull, overly ostentatious, and glibly symbolic claptrap. The story of a Puritan woman who fosters an ambiguously devilish child with a revered preacher, who is subsequently seduced into the psychological terror of the woman’s ex-husband, should be pulsating with dread and desire. Instead, the characters are lifeless, never really surpassing their symbolic significance. But the book was a revelation in its day – perhaps our increasingly liberal, secular culture detracts from the inherent shock factor needed to appreciate Hawthorne’s intent.
  MaxwellZ | Mar 1, 2015 |
Read in college. As with books by Thomas Hardy and Henry James that I also read in college, I admired this novel without really feeling a connection to the writer or wanting to read any of his work for pleasure. ( )
  sturlington | Feb 27, 2015 |
Reception to The Scarlet Letter is divided into four camps - those who read it in high school and disliked it, to spite the people who liked it and their teachers besides; those who read it in high school and liked it, to spite the people who disliked it and show their intellectual superiority; those who feel a certain fealty to it by dint of its pedestal as the 'Great American Novel'; and finally the fourth camp, which is composed of people who read it and concluded it genuinely wasn't all that excellent.

As you may have guessed, I'm in the fourth camp, and I am neither ashamed nor as proud as both those who like it and those who dislike it. I bear no ill-will towards long sentences or romanticism, nor do I have some ridiculous opposition (or sentimentality towards) 'classic literature'.

My issues with The Scarlet Letter are mainly that it's very plot-heavy, which is problematic if only because said heavy plot is dragged down by its maudlin moments and its general heavy-handedness. Unfortunately for the adolescent faux-rebels against literary analysis, The Scarlet Letter is laden with very obvious and not particularly clever symbolism, and complaints about the artificiality and implausibility of the fruits of New Criticism, formalism and general close-reading, although somewhat meritorious with more interesting literature, do not apply here. It is very symbolic, but to the point where the lay-reader in the 1850s would be able to readily comprehend it in a surface reading.

Is The Scarlet Letter historically significant? Absolutely. Is it the worst novel ever published? Absolutely not. Is it particularly good compared to its European contemporaries? In my opinion, no. ( )
  wpotash | Feb 22, 2015 |
I enjoyed the story but the writing was a chalenge at times. I do not mean that I could not comprehend it but the sentences were too long. This made the book drag on. ( )
  Natalie_Walker | Feb 13, 2015 |
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No one who has taken up the Scarlet Letter will willingly lay it down till he has finished it; and he will do well not to pause, for he cannot resume the story where he left it. He should give himself up to the magic power of the style, without stopping to open wide the eyes of his good sense and judgment, and shake off the spell; or half the weird beauty will disappear like a dissolving view. To be sure, when he closes the book, he will feel very much like the giddy and bewildered patient who is just awaking from his first experiment of the effects of sulphuric ether. The soul has been floating or flying between earth and heaven, with dim ideas of pain and pleasure strangely mingled, and all things earthly swimming dizzily and dreamily, yet most beautiful, before the half shut eye. That the author himself felt this sort of intoxication as well as the willing subjects of his enchantment, we think, is evident in many pages of the last half of the volume. His imagination has sometimes taken him fairly off his feet.

» Add other authors (106 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
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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Book description
The Scarlet Letter is about a woman who is an outcast in her community due to her child outside of her marriage. It is the story of her life and the life of her child as they are scorned for their sin while the father looks on blameless. This story is about dealing with guilt and seclusion.

I had heard this story for a while. My father always brought up the "A" that was sewn into Hester's dresses. And I think the story-line is really interesting, but I just didn't really like it. There were whole chapters that I felt were pointless. It was just a really slow read.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:49 -0400)

(see all 9 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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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0142437263, 0143105442, 0141199458

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