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The House of the Seven Gables (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 24 Sep 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Mass Market Paperback, 24 Sep 2009
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton / Signet; 150 Anv edition (24 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451527917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451527912
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 1.3 x 17.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,391,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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.

From the Inside Flap

First published in 1851, The House of the Seven Gables is one of Hawthorne's defining works, a vivid depiction of American life and values replete with brilliantly etched characters. The tale of a cursed house with a "mysterious and terrible past" and the generations linked to it, Hawthorne's chronicle of the Maule and Pyncheon families over two centuries reveals, in Mary Oliver's words, "lives caught in the common fire of history."
This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition uses the definitive text as prepared for The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne; this is the Approved Edition of the Center for Scholarly Editions (Modern Language Association). It includes newly commissioned notes on the text. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

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 TOP 500 REVIEWER 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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book itself is heavy going in places but, having visited where the book is set i found it a lot easier to get into compared to others who have read it. Worth trying especially as it's a free download.
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Format: Paperback
In Hawthorne's times, wealth and power were vested in landownership.
In this book, a conflict about landownership is solved in favour of a member of the powerful by incriminating of witchcraft and executing the poor owner of a hut. `Clergymen, judges, statesmen stood in the inner circle round about the gallows loudest to applaud the work of blood.'
But the innocent victim utters a prophecy on the scaffold: `God would give them blood to drink.'
The wrongdoing becomes a curse for all generations to come. They will be `slaves of bygone times.'

The House of the Seven Gables, the expression of that odious Past, stands for `what we call real estate - the solid ground to build a house on it - is the broad foundation on which nearly all the guilt of the world rests.'
One of the main characters, the Judge, represents the respectability of Puritanism. But he is in fact a selfish, iron-hearted hypocrite, greedy of wealth. He is a member of the schemers: `practiced politicians skilled to adjust those measures which steal the people the power of choosing its own rulers.'
As in `The Scarlet Letter', Nathaniel Hawthorne exposes in this book forcefully the Phariseism of the Puritans and the powerful. It culminates in a very surprising and highly dramatic end.

Not to be missed.
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