Authors & Events
Look Inside | Reading Guide
Aug 26, 2014
| ISBN 9780804171571
Sep 19, 2000
| ISBN 9780679783381
Feb 01, 1981
| ISBN 9780553210095
Nov 03, 1992
| ISBN 9780679417316
Feb 04, 2003
| ISBN 9780553897364
May 10, 2011
| 417 Minutes
| Young Adult
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Aug 26, 2014 | ISBN 9780804171571
Sep 19, 2000 | ISBN 9780679783381
Feb 01, 1981 | ISBN 9780553210095
Nov 03, 1992 | ISBN 9780679417316
Feb 04, 2003 | ISBN 9780553897364
May 10, 2011 | ISBN 9780307916174 | Young Adult
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece, an iconic fable of guilt and redemption set in Puritan Massachusetts, has long been considered one of the greatest American novels. The story of Hester Prynne—found out in adultery, pilloried by her Puritan community, and abandoned, in different ways, by both her partner in sin and her vengeance-seeking husband—possesses a reality heightened by Hawthorne’s sympathy and his unmixed devotion to his supposedly fallen but fundamentally innocent heroine. The Scarlet Letter rightly deserves its stature as the first great novel written by an American, a work of moral force and narrative power that announced a literature equal to any in the world.
Introduction by Kathryn Harrison Commentary by Nathaniel Hawthorne, W. D. Howells, and Carl Van Doren A stark tale of adultery, guilt, and social repression in Puritan New England, The Scarlet Letter is a foundational work of American literature. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s exploration of the dichotomy between the public and private self, internal passion and external convention, gives us the unforgettable Hester Prynne, who discovers strength in the face of ostracism and emerges as a heroine ahead of her time. As Kathryn Harrison points out in her Introduction, Hester is “the herald of the modern heroine.” Includes a Modern Library Reading Group Guide
Hailed by Henry James as "the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country," Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter reaches to our nation’s historical and moral roots for the material of great tragedy. Set in an early New England colony, the novel shows the terrible impact a single, passionate act has on the lives of three members of the community: the defiant Hester Prynne; the fiery, tortured Reverend Dimmesdale; and the obsessed, vengeful Chillingworth.With The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne became the first American novelist to forge from our Puritan heritage a universal classic, a masterful exploration of humanity’s unending struggle with sin, guilt and pride.
Hester Prynne is a beautiful young woman. She is also an outcast. In the eyes of her neighbours she has committed an unforgivable sin. Everyone knows that her little daughter Pearl is the product of an illicit affair but no one knows the identity of Pearl’s father. Hester’s refusal to name him brings more condemnation upon her. But she stands strong in the face of public scorn, even when she is forced to wear the sign of her shame sewn onto her clothes: the scarlet letter “A” for “Adulteress.”The story of Hester Prynne–found out in adultery, pilloried by her Puritan community, and abandoned, in different ways, by both her partner in sin and her vengeance-seeking husband–possesses a reality heightened by Hawthorne’s pure human sympathy and his unmixed devotion to his supposedly fallen but fundamentally innocent heroine. In its moral force and the beauty of its conciliations, The Scarlet Letter rightly deserves its stature as the first great novel written by an American, the novel that announced an American literature equal to any in the world.
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1805–64) was an American novelist and short story writer. He was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and graduated from Bowdoin College. His first novel, Fanshawe, was published anonymously in 1828, followed by several collections of short stories, including Twice-Told Tales and Mosses from an… More about Nathaniel Hawthorne
"[Nathaniel Hawthorne] recaptured, for his New England, the essence of Greek tragedy." –Malcolm Cowley
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