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The House of the Seven Gables Hardcover – 5 Oct 2007


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Wildside Press (5 Oct. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1434493490
  • ISBN-13: 978-1434493491
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)


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"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 the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born on the fourth of July in 1804, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the stories that lie at the heart of the American Romantic movement. His portraits of colonial life reflect his Puritan heritage and offer fascinating profiles of individuals who strive for freedom from social conventions. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aletheuon TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 April 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a truly marvellous novel! I had never read anything by Nathaniel Hawthorne before reading this book but I now understand why he is regarded as one of America's greatest novelists. It is a darkly Gothic and romantic book. What I love most about it is the beautiful descriptions of life in the mid nineteenth century and, above all, the wonderful psychological insight Hawthorne shows. This is a book which is built on interaction between complex and interesting characters who have the power to arouse one's sympathy. The novel is set in a gloomy New England mansion, built by a wealthy and cruel Puritan ancestor of the Pyncheon family and haunted, either supernaturally or psychologically, by guilt caused by the cruelties, fraudulent acquisitions and sudden death of the house's first owner. The house was built on ground seized from its legitimate owner, Matthew Maule, whom Colonel Pyncheon had executed for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials. Maule, according to family legend, cursed the Pyncheon family. The Colonel's portrait still hangs in the decaying house, an awful reminder of guilt and the curse, binding its residents to the past.
The house is now owned by Hepzibah Pyncheon, who is a lady, one of the last of a dying breed of aristocrats in America. Dreadfully poor, she opens a shop in one room of her house, though she is completely unsuited to shop work. Her brother Clifford arrives home after serving thirty years for murder. A wealthy relative, Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, offers help but is refused with loathing. Phoebe, a distant relative, comes to live with them and this pretty, cheerful and loving girl soon becomes indispensable to the two vulnerable old people. There is also a mysterious young lodger, Holgrave.
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By Mr. G. Morgan on 5 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback
Adhering stubbornly to his styling of them as Romances, Hawthorne's remarkable novel is one of American literature's seminal achievements, perhaps an allegory of the White Man's settlement. No wonder he and Melville were mutually admiring: while the latter was worrying that there might be no or perhaps a malign God, Hawthorne (whose ancestor was one of those who condemned the Salem 'witches') is possessor of a sense of Evil very unusual at any time, the story is redolent of it. The powerful Pynchon usurps the lowly Matthew Maule and Fate then begins its awful march. In a relatively short course - he was a master of the short story too - the dark house thus established, the Pynchons and others, lively characters somehow a little crushed, live in the shadow of this impressive, brooding house. And inevitably, an awful denouement works out, following an appalling curse issuing from the mouth of the wronged Maule. Taking in a masterly chapter, (I will not identify it), that manages a trick less drastic but more apropos than Georges Perec did in writing a book with no letter 'e' this is a brilliant study in Justice, beginning with those words that ring in my ears now. The style is lapidary and exact and no-one wishing to appreciate American culture can miss him. In my view this is superior even to 'The Scarlet Letter' though you must read them both as well as his pathos-ridden, powerful short stories. A striking achievement.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By HORAK on 8 Nov. 2005
Format: Paperback
150 years ago, on the site of the house of the old Pyncheon family in Providence, New England, lived one Mathew Maule in a log-built hut who was executed for the crime of witchcraft. Before dying, Maule uttered a prophecy to Colonel Pyncheon: "God will give him blood to drink."
Villagers could not understand that Pyncheon wanted to build his house over the unquiet grave of the dead wizard Maule and why he should prefer this site that had already been accursed in all the vastness of New England. At any rate the house was built in the grotesqueness of Gothic fancy with seven gables pointing sharply to the sky. On the day of the ceremony of consecration of the house, Colonel Pyncheon suddenly died and some said that Maule's prophecy could be heard throughout the house spoken in a loud voice...
From father to son, the family clung to the ancestral house with tenacity. Bu Mathew Maule's prophecy seems to have planted a heavy footstep on the conscience of the Pyncheons as though they committed again the guilt of their ancestor thus inheriting a great misfortune.
An impressive novel in which an old house itself is the major character. The story is filled with contrasts and oppositions between the dark and gloomy interior of the house and the bright and sunlit exterior. Shadow is the atmosphere of the invisible world of evil, of the past hidden in the recesses of the old mansion. As one follows the lives of Hepzibah, Phoebe and Clifford, one realises that the human fates of the present times are closely linked to the web of the past.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Dec. 2011
Format: Paperback
"'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'
What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever." -- Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 (NKJV)

Before commenting on the book, let me mention that I've always found it hard to get into. This time I listened to a reading by Donalda Peters and it made all the difference. Give it a try!

The Old Testament tells us that crimes can carry curses into future generations. Hawthorne examines that theme by having Colonel Pyncheon acquire the property of one Mathew Maule through Maule being found guilty of witchcraft in colonial Salem, Massachusetts. On the land was built the House of Seven Gables, and the consequences of the original action certainly seem to singe and tinge the current generation in a variety of ways. Rather than make this just a Biblical tale, Hawthorne beautifully investigates the questions of nature versus nurture in determining character and what choices are made.

Much of the story is told through the use of extended irony of the sort that's found in the book of Ecclesiastes. It's very well written and compelling.

Those who don't like dark stories should realize that there's a special beauty in certain kinds of darkness. And, too, weeping may endure for a night, but joy can come in the morning. Love can conquer quite a lot.
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