The Scarlet Letter and Other Writings / Edition 4

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Overview

This Norton Critical Edition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s most widely read novel appears during the bicentennial anniversary year of his birth.
The text of The Scarlet Letter is based on the 1850 third edition, the first set in stereotype plates and the basis of subsequent printings in Hawthorne’s lifetime. An invaluable selection of contextual material includes five Hawthorne stories that are closely related to The Scarlet Letter, along with relevant letters and notebook entries. A substantial excerpt from Hawthorne’s campaign biography of Franklin Pierce offers a revealing glimpse at Hawthorne’s political thought, especially regarding slavery and abolition. "Criticism" provides a comprehensive overview of early and modern commentary on The Scarlet Letter and the stories in this edition, including nineteenth-century reviews of the novel and critical essays by Robert S. Levine, Nina Baym, Larry J. Reynolds, and Jean Fagan Yellin. A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393979534
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 768
  • Sales rank: 78,545
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Leland S. Person is Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati. His is the author of Henry James and the Suspense of Masculinity, Roman Holidays: American Writers and Artists in Nineteenth-Century Italy, and Aesthetic Headaches: Women and Masculine Poetics in Poe, Melville, and Hawthorne.

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

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