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The House of the Seven Gables (Enriched Classics) Mass Market Paperback – Deluxe Edition, June 19, 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 340 customer reviews

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From School Library Journal

Grade 9 Up. 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 country 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
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1851. Set in mid-19th-century Salem, Mass., the work is a somber study in hereditary sin based on the legend of a curse pronounced on Hawthorne's own family by a woman condemned to death during the infamous Salem witchcraft trials. The greed and arrogant pride of the novel's Pyncheon family through the generations is mirrored in the gloomy decay of their seven-gabled mansion, in which the family's enfeebled and impoverished relations live. At the book's end the descendant of a family long ago defrauded by the Pyncheons lifts his ancestors' curse on the mansion and marries a young niece of the family. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Enriched Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Enriched Classic edition (June 19, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416534776
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416534778
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (340 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #836,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on February 5, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's very obvious from reading all of these reader reviews that The House of the Seven Gables is not for everyone. But, I urge you to determine if it is for you. If it is, you certainly don't want to miss it. This novel was not written with today's readers in mind. You cannot call it quick-paced, by any stretch of the imagination. The novel is however, a wonderful work of art. Every sentence, every word is carefully crafted, carefully chosen. This novel is meant to be read slowly, to be savored. The novel tells a fairly simple story--the story of the house, and its perhaps doomed family of inhabitants. Many years after a curse by a supposed warlock--there are only 4 members of the doomed family surviving. Is the house haunted? Maybe. Hawthorne is so clever--every time he tells us about a supposed ghost or haunting, he gives us a more "reasonable" explanation. Were they ghosts swirling around the house one evening, or was it just the wind. Is the family doomed? Maybe, but then there is young Pheobe who seems anything but. The House of Seven Gables is far superior to any contemporary gothic you can read. It is novel writing at its best. The characters have depth, the story is engaging, and even, at times, funny. But, you have to be ready for a novel written well over a hundred years ago. If you are, you are in for a treat.
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Format: Paperback
Nathaniel Hawthorne is probably one of the most despised figures in the American literary canon, at least in the minds of the millions of school children forced to read "The Scarlet Letter." I will go so far as to admit I never finished that novel. I took one look through the book and laughed at the ridiculous idea of reading such a convoluted looking story. That was at age seventeen. Now, many years later I am able to go back and actually read some of these daunting novels. What is surprising is that they are not daunting at all, just written in an ornate style from a different age. The plots often deal with the same issues and concerns modern people fret about. For those uninterested in relationships and human dramas, there are also great old stories with supernatural elements, which is where this book comes in. This edition of the book includes an introduction by Mary Oliver and several commentaries on the work by Edwin Percy Whipple, Henry T. Tuckerman, F.O. Matthiessen, and Herman Melville. The Melville commentary is actually a letter the author of "Moby Dick" sent to Hawthorne where he concludes with a demand that Hawthorne "walk down one of these mornings and see me." Pretty neat.
In "The House of the Seven Gables," the author tells his reader the story is a romance. What he means by this terminology is not a cheap paperback that involves swooning hearts with Fabio on the cover, but "a legend prolonging itself, from an epoch now gray in the distance, down into our own broad daylight." Hawthorne's specific goal is to show that the bad behavior of one generation devolves on future descendents.
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Format: Paperback
I must say that the negative reviews that I have read about Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables are sorely off the mark. The prevalent sentiments are that the plot is dull (or almost absent), the characters are flat, and the description is overwrought. But you who say this are simply missing the point, as well as taking Hawthorne's work out of context. You have to understand that this novel was written during a very transitional period in literature. Writers had shifted from the Enlightenment to Romanticism (the period in which Hawthorne writes), and as Hawthorne writes his novels, another movement is being made to Realism. Realism is what we are used to in modern fiction. It contains real characters and real events. But Hawthorne had not yet fully employed these new ideas, and he still hung on to the Romantic sentiments. Therefore, he was much more interested in ideas rather than character development (a modern technique). Hawthorne chooses to convey ideas, emotions, morals, etc. rather than fully developed the characters like they would be in a novel today.
As for no plot, you have to keep in mind that Hawthorne still looks to the old tradition (not to mention his guilt of his heritage), so he uses his writing as a way to teach moral lessons, not necessarily to describe a highly detailed story and plot.
Finally, I can't deny that there is plenty of narrative description, but most of it serves a great purpose, and for the parts that you think do not belong, just read and enjoy them for their poetic beauty and technical merit.
Hawthorne is a fantastic writer, but to acknowledge this, the reader must not take his work out of its context.
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Format: Paperback
Sometimes it seems a mistake to force high school students to read 19th century literature. It does take patience to adjust to the "old fashioned" prose, but it's worth the effort. House of Seven Gables is an eerie ghost story based upon actual historical events. Hawthorne knew Salem and its history inside and out, and he also knew how to create a haunting atmosphere and a story that stays in the mind forever. He's one of the few authors who conveys a sense of Puritan fatalism and repression without resorting to gothic romance cliches. This is an excellent piece of literature, and if you haven't given it a chance by rereading it as an adult, you're missing a great experience.
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