The House of the Seven Gables (Signet Classics) Mass Market Paperback – 24 Sep 2009
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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.
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
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read about half way through but got bored and gave up. I much prefer The Scarlet Letter.Published 8 months ago by Jenny (South Africa)
Nothing happens! Am on page 196 and praying for anything to happen. Only decided to read it because I visited the house it was based on in Salem. Read morePublished 20 months ago by jay
Lovely language and a happy ending. A delightful parse of Hubris followed by Nemesis and providence tidying up the plot. Excellent!Published on 29 May 2014 by D J Peters
A gift for my auntie, she was very happy with it. A reasonable price, good quality and reasonable postage xPublished on 27 Nov. 2013 by Lisa Potter
"'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'
What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun? Read more