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The House of the Seven Gables (Norton Critical Edition) / Edition 1

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Overview

This all-new edition of Hawthorne’s celebrated 1851 novel is based on The Ohio State University Press’s Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne.
It is accompanied by thorough explanatory annotations and an insightful introduction to the novel and antebellum culture by Robert S. Levine.
"Contexts" brings together a generous selection of primary materials intended to provide readers with background on the novel’s central themes. Historical documents include accounts of Salem’s history by Thomas Maule, Robert Calef, Joseph B. Felt, and Charles W. Upham, which Hawthorne drew on for The House of the Seven Gables. The importance of the house in antebellum America—as a manifestation of the body, a site of genealogical history, and a symbol of the republic’s middle class—is explored through the diverse writings of William Andrus Alcott, Edgar Allan Poe, and J. H. Agnew, among others. The impact of technological developments on the novel, especially of daguerreotypy, is considered through the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gustave de Beaumont, and Alexis de Tocqueville, among others. Also included are two of Hawthorne’s literary sketches—"Alice Doane’s Appeal" and "The Old Apple Dealer"—that demonstrate the continuity of Hawthorne’s style, from his earlier periodical writing to his later career as a novelist.
"Criticism" provides a comprehensive overview of the critical commentary on the novel from its publication to the present. Among the twenty-seven critics represented are Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry James, Nina Baym, Eric Sundquist, Richard H. Millington, Alan Trachtenberg, Amy Schrager Lang, and Christopher Castiglia.
A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

A cartoon version of the misfortunes that plague a prominent New England family because of greed and a two-hundred-year-old curse.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 UpHawthorne's tale about the brooding hold of the past over the present is a complex one, twisting and turning its way back through many generations of a venerable New England family, one of whose members was accused of witchcraft in 17th century Salem. More than 200 years later, we meet the family in its decaying, gabled mansion, still haunted by the presence of dead ancestors: Hepzibah, an elderly gentlewoman fallen on had times; her ineffectual brother, Clifford; and young Phoebe, a country maiden who cheerfully takes it upon herself to care for her two doddering relations. There's also Holgrave, a free-spirited daguerreotypist, who makes a surprising transformation into conventional respectability at the story's end. These people seem to be symbols for Hawthorne's theme more than full-bodied characters in their own right. As such, it can only be difficult for today's young adults to identify with them, especially since they are so caught up in a past that is all but unknown to present day sensibilities. Talented Joan Allen, twice nominated for Academy Awards, reads the tale in a clear, luminous voice. Because she has chosen not to do voices, however, it is sometimes difficult to tell which character is speaking. Still, she is more than equal to the task of handling Hawthorne's stately prose in a presentation that will be a good curriculum support for students of Hawthorne or those seeking special insight into this work of fiction.Carol Katz, Harrison Library, NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393924763
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 502
  • Sales rank: 529,282
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert S. Levine (Ph.D. Stanford) is Distinguished University Professor of English and Distinguished Scholar-Teacher at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Conspiracy and Romance: Studies in Brockden Brown, Cooper, Hawthorne, and Melville; Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, and the Politics of Representative Identity; and Dislocating Race and Nation: Episodes in Nineteenth-Century American Literary Nationalism. He has edited a number of books, including The Cambridge Companion to Herman Melville; Martin R. Delany: A Documentary Reader; Hemispheric American Studies; and a Norton Critical Edition of Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables.

Biography

Nathaniel Hathorne, Jr., was born into an established New England puritan family on Independence Day, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts. After the sudden death of his father, he and his mother and sisters moved in with his mother's family in Salem. Nathaniel's early education was informal; he was home-schooled by tutors until he enrolled in Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.

Uninterested in conventional professions such as law, medicine, or the ministry, Nathaniel chose instead to rely "for support upon my pen." After graduation, he returned to his hometown, wrote short stories and sketches, and chanced the spelling of his surname to "Hawthorne." Hawthorne's coterie consisted of transcendentalist thinkers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Although he did not subscribe entirely to the group's philosophy, he lived for six months at Brook Farm, a cooperative living community the transcendentalists established in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

On July 9, 1942, Hawthorne married a follower of Emerson, Sophia Peabody, with whom he had a daughter, Una, and a son, Julian. The couple purchased a mansion in Concord, Massachusetts, that previously had been occupied by author Louisa May Alcott. Frequently in financial difficulty, Hawthorne worked at the custom houses in Salem and Boston to support his family and his writing. His peaceful life was interrupted when his college friend, Franklin Pierce, now president of the United States, appointed him U.S. consul at Liverpool, England, where he served for four years.

The publication of The Scarlet Letter in 1850 changed the way society viewed Puritanism. Considered his masterpiece, the novel focuses on Hawthorne's recurrent themes of sin, guilt, and punishment. Some critics have attributed his sense of guilt to his ancestors' connection with the persecution of Quakers in seventeenth-century New England and their prominent role in the Salem witchcraft trials in the 1690s.

On May 19, 1864, Hawthorne died in Plymouth, New Hampshire, leaving behind several unfinished novels that were published posthumously. He is buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Scarlet Letter.

Good To Know

Hawthorne's birth name was actually Nathaniel Hathorne. It's rumored that he added a "w" to avoid being associated with his Puritan grandfather, Judge Hathorne -- who presided over the Salem Witch Trials.

Among Hawthorne's peers at Maine's Bowdoin College: author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Franklin Pierce, who would later become the country's 14th president.

In its first week of publication, The Scarlet Letter sold 4,000 copies.

Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864, at the Pemigewasset House in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Ironically, former president Franklin Pierce had advised him to go there for his health.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      July 4, 1804
    2. Place of Birth:
      Salem, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      May 19, 1864
    2. Place of Death:
      Plymouth, New Hampshire
    1. Education:
      Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824

Read an Excerpt

Half-way down a by-street of one of our New England towns, stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst. The street is Pyncheon-street; the house is the old Pyncheon-house; and an elm-tree, of wide circumference, rooted before the door, is familiar to every town-born child by the title of the Pyncheon-elm. On my occasional visits to the town aforesaid, I seldom failed to turn down Pyncheon-street, for the sake of passing through the shadow of these two antiquities; the great elm-tree and the weather-beaten edifice.

The aspect of the venerable mansion has always affected me like a human countenance, bearing the traces not merely of outward storm and sunshine, but expressive also of the long lapse of mortal life, and accompanying vicissitudes that have passed within. Were these to be worthily recounted, they would form a narrative of no small interest and instruction, and possessing, moreover, a certain remarkable unity, which might almost seem the result of artistic arrangement. But the story would include a chain of events extending over the better part of two centuries, and, written out with reasonable amplitude, would fill a bigger folio volume, or a longer series of duodecimos, than could prudently be appropriated to the annals of all New England during a similar period. It consequently becomes imperative to make short work with most of the traditionary lore of which the old Pyncheon-house, otherwise known as the House of the Seven Gables, has been the theme. With a brief sketch, therefore, of the circumstances amid which the foundation of the house was laid, and arapid glimpse at its quaint exterior, as it grew black in the prevalent east wind pointing, too, here and there, at some spot of more verdant mossiness on its roof and walls, we shall commence the real action of our tale at an epoch not very remote from the present day. Still, there will be a connection with the long past; a reference to forgotten events and personages, and to manners, feelings, and opinions, almost or wholly obsolete; which, if adequately translated to the reader, would serve to illustrate how much of old material goes to make up the freshest novelty of human life. Hence, too, might be drawn a weighty lesson from the little-regarded truth, that the act of the passing generation is the germ which may and must produce good or evil fruit, in a far-distant time; that, together with the seed of the merely temporary crop, which mortals term expediency, they inevitably sow the acorns of a more enduring growth, which may darkly overshadow their posterity.

The House of the Seven Gables, antique as it now looks, was not the first habitation erected by civilized man on precisely the same spot of ground. Pyncheon-street formerly bore the humbler appellation of Maule's Lane, from the name of the original occupant of the soil, before whose cottage-door it was a cow-path.

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Suggestions for Further Reading xxxv
A Note on the Text xxxix
The House of the Seven Gables 1
Notes 321
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Reading Group Guide

1. Hawthorne considered this novel to be a romance, which in literary terms refers to a narrative, allegorical treatment of heroic, fantastic, or supernatural events. Do you think this term accurately describes the book? Why or why not?

2. What do you make of the relationship between interior consciousness and external appearance in the novel? How does this conflict, as experienced by each of the central characters, inform the novel? And how does the house serve as a metaphor for this struggle?

3. Discuss the theme of class and social structure in the novel. What do you think Hawthorne intends in his depiction of Hepzibah's and Clifford's slow decline, and the curse on the Pyncheons' house? Are these related in any way? What about the role of the Maules?

4. Is the house a kingdom or a prison? Neither, or both? What is the curse that afflicts the Pyncheons? Discuss.

5. Discuss the role played by Holgrave in the novel. How does his nomadic, rootless existence stand in contrast to the Pyncheons? How does his marriage to Phoebe complicate this?

6. Discuss the scene in which Clifford attempts to join the procession. How does this illuminate the fundamental struggle of the Pyncheon family?

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Customer Reviews

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( 71 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 71 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2010

    go see the real house you will understand the book

    read this book years a go great book, you do no understand the book until you travel there and see the house in real life .. the house is something to see,to see how he lived hundred years ago is some to see. loved the hiding stair case .. they dont build houses and counting house like that any more.. any one who doesnt like the book needs to go see the house ..

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2001

    Original Sin and Victoriana

    'The House of the Seven Gables' is a more difficult but potentially more rewarding book than the more popular 'Scarlet Letter.' In 'The House of the Seven Gables' Hawthorne is, in effect, arguing with himself about man's nature--are we all subject to original sin? He sets the novel inside a mansion that has been cursed from its very beginning because its owner stole part of the house's land from someone who didn't have as much legal influence. Thus cursed, the house became a gloomy haven for a decayed and decadent aristocracy for the following 180 years, roughly 1665-1845. Like the house, are we cursed by original sin, condemned to repeat the patterns of our ancestors? (There are other interpretations of this book; I'm just leading with the most common one.) Hawthorne would best be described as a romantic realist. His narrative style is free of the supernatural but it is rife with symbolism--and often he will interpret the symbolism for you! There is not much 'action' in the conventional sense; a person could describe the goings-on in the book in ten minutes, including flashbacks. The novel's resolution will surprise you--but there still are some fundamental questions that haven't been answered! Hawthorne depends on descriptions for much of his work--e.g., how a particular rose looks on a particular morning, and that ties in with all the symbolism. As was common in Victorian times, sentence length was 2-3 times longer than today, with compound/ complex sentences the norm. If you can read Dickens without difficulty, though, you can read this book too. I'd recommend 'The House of the Seven Gables' for anyone interested in quality American literature, especially the early realist period, for people interested in how the Puritan strain haunted (haunts?) Americans, or indeed just for an interesting tale that is told with very little action, mostly mood and symbolism.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Not a good version

    This version has a lot of problems with words being misspelled. It is hard to read!

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2012

    Guthix

    Hello

    1 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2012

    Loved it

    Loved it ! Dont know why you people dont


    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2014

    Could have been a 5

    Rated it 3only because of the garbled script, what i could read of this book was exelent

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    Ash2

    *find not side

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2014

    Ash2

    How are you my cousin..o.e...o.o))

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2014

    Ab2

    Smart ass. And do me a favour, go to AshClan and post to Dragonstar "Shadowkissed was there too. Myntlight if you recall was the rp at the time" or something along those lines please.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2014

    Clockwork

    Vrality, Zinth, and Saya, right?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2014

    Ash

    XD i wish you well

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2014

    Ab

    Ya, ya and ya.. yup. Got it

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2013

    Hawthorne huh? Well how a about...HOTCORN!

    Get it lol

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    Chelsi

    Hi

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2013

    Well then

    Dude on the cover is totally freaky.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2013

    Liyla here

    Luv it!!!! I luv u nathaniel lol!!! XD

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2012

    This book... is great!

    He is a great author, and his book is amazing! I have to read it for English, and I'm already in love with it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    Hi.

    Should i buy this?

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2012

    awsome

    Book

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2012

    Fad*Fabulous

    Are you guys using this as a chat room.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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