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Hangsaman (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 5 Dec 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (5 Dec. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141391987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141391984
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 114,795 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


The world of Shirley Jackson is eerie and unforgettable ... It is a place where things are not what they seem; even on a morning that is sunny and clear there is always the threat of darkness looming, of things taking a turn for the worse (A. M. Homes)

Shirley Jackson is one of those highly idiosyncratic, inimitable writers ... whose work exerts an enduring spell (Joyce Carol Oates)

Shirley Jackson is unparalleled as a leader in the field of beautifully written, quiet, cumulative shudders (Dorothy Parker)

About the Author

Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco in 1916. She first received wide critical acclaim for her short story 'The Lottery', which was published in 1949. Her novels - which include The Sundial, The Bird's Nest, Hangsaman, The Road through the Wall, We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House - are characterised by her use of realistic settings for tales that often involve elements of horror and the occult. Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages are her two works of nonfiction. Come Along With Me is a collection of stories, lectures, and part of the novel she was working on when she died in 1965.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By LilacLemon on 15 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In this intriguing novel, teenager Natalie Waite leaves her discontented life in her family home to make a new start at college, where she struggles to connect with her peers, leaving her alienated and deeply lonely. This simple plot is made abundantly complex and unsettling by the questionable sanity of Natalie. From the beginning, it is evident that the line between reality and Natalie's imagination is blurred, and as the narrative progresses it becomes increasingly ambiguous. It is the type of novel in which suspense and a sinister tone are created through incredibly subtle methods, so that it is chilling without there being overtly frightening or gruesome events. It is the type of story which is agonisingly and thought-provokingly inconclusive, so that as you finish reading it you immediately want to discuss it and find out what meanings and conclusions others drew from it. What is impressive about 'Hangsaman' is how completely you become submerged in the psychology of the protagonist - it is expertly crafted so that despite the third person narration, it is impossible to draw a line between the voice of the narrator and the perspective of Natalie. It is a dark and ominous novel, worth reading because of how effectively it infects the reader with an unusual view of the world.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gregory S. Buzwell TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
Shirley Jackson always had the ability to portray a dark sense of unease in her work. In Hangsaman, that sense of the odd, the baffling and the out of kilter is turned up a notch, becoming if anything even more apparent than in her later, better-known novels such as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The other quality Jackson always possessed in spades was the ability to write beautifully balanced prose and Hangsaman shows the elegance of her writing-style to full effect. In places the book positively purrs like a well-fed cat curled by the fireside, or a well-tuned Rolls on an open road.

Natalie Waite, the central character, is the daughter of a pompous author who isn't quite the great thinker and stylist he would like to believe. Even more problematic for Natalie her mother is terribly neurotic and always haunted by the life she might have lived had marriage and drudgery not intervened. Natalie's brother, very sensibly, keeps his distance from his parents and attempts to do his own thing, quietly and beyond the dead-hand reach of his parents. Natalie is perhaps less fortunate. Her mother ropes her in with all the preparations for her father's parties when various local worthies are invited to dine, and her father, when not entertaining, sets her curious writing tasks so he can check on the progress of her prose. Natalie, one suspects, isn't having the most comfortable of childhoods. Jackson always keeps the main events in Hangsaman slightly opaque but there is a strong suggestion one of her father's friends forces himself on Natalie after one too many drinks. What had been a strange childhood becomes, afterwards, positively a broken and disturbed one.
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