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Scarlet Letter (Collins Classics) Paperback – Bargain Price, April 1, 2010
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|Paperback, Bargain Price, April 1, 2010||
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From School Library Journal
Grade 9-Up Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel of Puritanism giving rise to twisted gender politics, hypocrisy, and strength of character in the face of public scorn is well realized in this reading by Annie Wauters. She gives individual tone and rhythm to each of the main characters, while keeping the passages of narrative relatively uninflected. While this suits the author's own sometimes dry writing, it means that listeners must get to the second hour before the story truly gets underway. Since this lengthy forepart fits almost entirely onto the first disk, and each chapter is clearly marked as to track number on the packaging, it is possible to simply skip ahead rather than give up what becomes a delightfully lively listening experience once the romance gets going. Because the reading adheres so entirely to the print in spirit as well as in word, this is an excellent choice for students who cannot access print or who would like to accomplish college prep reading while undertaking other activities. Sturdy packaging makes this a shelf ready purchase.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850. It is considered a masterpiece of American literature and a classic moral study. The novel is set in a village in Puritan New England. The main character is Hester Prynne, a young woman who has borne an illegitimate child. Hester believes herself a widow, but her husband, Roger Chillingworth, returns to New England very much alive and conceals his identity. He finds his wife forced to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as punishment for her adultery. Chillingworth becomes obsessed with finding the identity of his wife's former lover. When he learns that the father of Hester's child is Arthur Dimmesdale, a saintly young minister who is the leader of those exhorting her to name the child's father, Chillingworth proceeds to torment the guilt-stricken young man. In the end Chillingworth is morally degraded by his monomaniacal pursuit of revenge; Dimmesdale is broken by his own sense of guilt, and he publicly confesses his adultery before dying in Hester's arms. Only Hester can face the future bravely, as she plans to take her daughter Pearl to Europe to begin a new life. --The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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First and foremost, the pretentious, overly-long syntax. I can imaging Hawthorne today as that guy who *is* very smart, but wants everybody to know how smart he is by the way he speaks, using extensive and seldom-used vocabulary. He clearly realizes that his syntax is too long because he often has to begin a sentence a second time in the middle of the sentence. He's taken so long to get to the point that even he has to go back to the beginning. The effect of all this language and detail is stunning, but it often takes so long to read because of its loquaciousness, that the reader may often get bored and simply want him to be done with it.
Additionally, I've always preferred dialogue over straight narration. There is precious little dialogue overall in this book. The details were lost on me. I really don't know how to analyze why or what I got out of dialogue that I didn't with Hawthorne's style. Perhaps it all had to do with feeling as though the narrative was moving forward. Again, Hawthorne's bombastic style must have made me feel stuck in the muck of details, mostly having to do with emotions, which I had little reference for appreciation.
What I remember most disliking, however, was a feeling of great frustration over not understanding how Pearl was supposed to symbolize the most precious thing God could give Hester after trading a respected place in her community. Personally, to be ostracized and isolated was - and perhaps still is - the worst form of punishment. At that age especially, physical pain would have been far more preferable a form of penance than forsaking all other pleasant peer interaction. Pearl, then, the living embodiment of the parable, is supposed to be this perfect thing for which all earthly goods, wealth, treasure, what-have-you, is supposed to be a perfect thing, worthy of such a trade. Pearl. Is. Weird. She is not sympathetic to her mother's woes, she is freaky intelligent, much more so than any child her age should be, which seemed to me at the time I first read the book to be downright ... Just freaky. I couldn't sympathize with her, and I liked kids! This kid was beyond my comprehension. She was weird, and I felt like Hester got a bad deal. I get it now. I get that Pearl is meant to be other-worldly until the minister finally confesses and reveals himself. Pearl had constantly asked him to do as much and was denied repeatedly. The confession broke the spell that they seemed to be under, and Pearl suddenly became a normal, loving child. I may have more to say yet on this matter, but for now, I am at work and feel compelled to move on.
Today, I have a better appreciation, but I still think the style is a bit ridiculous. It's impressive, to be sure. His symbolism and tension building is well-wrought. His characterization is sublime.
But Pearl is still weird!
There are a few of the classic fiction novels with which I was not impressed. This book is not one in which I am disappointed. It is a wonderful example of the author's masterfully skillful command of the English language and ability in writing a novel that flows effortlessly from idea to idea and from point to point from beginning to the end of the novel. I also cannot go without mentioning wonderful expansive vocabulary. His words were a treat to the ear. He describes a historically inspired story in profound details covering the era and the Puritans with full confidence in his knowledge of both. His explanation of his character's cognitive and emotive forces is wonderfully impeccable and in which I found at no time any cause for a fault on his part. I very much enjoyed the book and I am pleased I have allotted the time in my life for which to give it space to be read.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" is set in the late 1600's and early 1700's in "Puritan" Boston. The story is about fornication and adultery and the consequences those acts -- "sins" -- have on the lives of four people. The story goes into some very dark places of the mind. However, in the end, "light and love" prevail over "darkness and evil".
All-in-all I think the story has a happy ending. I loved it!