- Series: Signet Classics
- Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Signet Classics (June 1, 1961)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451524365
- ISBN-13: 978-0451524362
- Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 0.5 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (388 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,754,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The House of the Seven Gables (Signet Classics)
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"A large and generous production, pervaded with that vague hum, that indefinable echo, of the whole multitudinous life of man, which is the real sign of a great work of fiction." --Henry James --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
That being said, the plaudits of the positive reviewers have covered the plot of the story and the curse of the Pyncheon family and their eponymous gabled mansion quite well. It only remains for me to add what I found of personal significance in the novel. My favourite character in the novel is the highly-strung, greatly-wronged, poetically-attuned character of Clifford Pyncheon as described in the chapter "The Pyncheon Garden" which ends thus:
"Alas, poor Clifford! You are old, and worn with troubles that ought never to have befallen you. You are partly crazy, and partly imbecile; a ruin, a failure, as almost everybody is - though some in less degree, or less perceptibly, than their fellows. Fate has no happiness in store for you; unless your quiet home in the old family residence, with the faithful Hepzibah, and your long summer-afternoons with Phoebe, and those Sabbath festivals with Uncle Venner and the Daguerreotypist, deserve to be called happiness! WHY NOT? If not the thing itself, it is marvellously like it, and the more so for that ethereal and intangible quality, which causes it all to vanish, at too close an introspection. Take it, therefore, while you may. Murmur not - question not-but make the most of it."
Whilst "The Pyncheon Garden" represents well the idyllic light in the play of light and shadow that constitutes the tale, the chapter entitled "Governor Pyncheon" is more powerful and more fully represents the darkness that hangs even in the background of the Pyncheon Garden chapter until it is dispelled at the end. I'll only quote one harrowing line from this thanatopsis on what happens when the soul departs the body so as to leave the intrigued reader to discover the rest:
"Where is our universe? All crumbled away from us; and we, adrift in chaos, may hearken to the gusts of homeless wind, that go sighing and murmuring about, in quest of what was once a world!"
The book does have a rather contrived ending that detracts from it as a work of art, but which does serve as relief after all the funereal ponderings. All told, a tale that will tear you quite out of the 21st century, if only you dare to let it.
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descriptively so your mind's eye is there. It gives a peak
of how things were in that era.Read more