The Scarlet Letter, with eBook

Overview

It is 1642 in the Puritan town of Boston. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of adultery and has borne an illegitimate child. In lieu of being put to death, she is condemned to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as a reminder of her shameful act.

Hester's husband had been lost at sea years earlier and was presumed dead, but he reappears in time to witness Hester's humiliation on the town scaffold. Upon discovering her deed, the vengeful husband becomes obsessed with finding...

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Overview

It is 1642 in the Puritan town of Boston. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of adultery and has borne an illegitimate child. In lieu of being put to death, she is condemned to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as a reminder of her shameful act.

Hester's husband had been lost at sea years earlier and was presumed dead, but he reappears in time to witness Hester's humiliation on the town scaffold. Upon discovering her deed, the vengeful husband becomes obsessed with finding the identity of the man who dishonored his wife. To do so he assumes a false name, pretends to be a physician, and forces Hester to keep his new identity secret. Meanwhile, Hester's lover, the beloved Reverend Dimmesdale, publicly pressures her to name the child's father while secretly praying that she will not. Hester defiantly protects his identity and reputation, even when faced with losing her daughter, Pearl.

Hailed by Henry James as "the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country," Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is a masterful portrayal of humanity's continuing struggle with sin, guilt, and pride.

In early colonial Massachusetts, a young woman endures the consequences of her sin of adultery and spends the rest of her life in atonement.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr-8-Up-Actress Elizabeth McGovern reads this acceptable abridgement with precise, clear diction. Her expressive voice is pleasant, effectively using breath sounds and pauses to recreate dramatic moods. Her usually quick tempo keeps the text from being ponderous, but it can be slower when necessary. Given the time period of the original work, her formal tone is appropriate. Her speech changes slightly for the different characters, but there is not much dialogue. The abridgement retains the continuity of the story. Consider purchasing this version for special education students who can't handle the longer, original text.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Sheppard Jacinto
“A quick read. A great read. What makes this series of classics so successful is the way they have been lovingly crafted. Near perfect, they honor their source material and capture the humor, the drama, the passion, the excitement, the sheer narrative exuberance, that have made each of these works timeless classics.”

--Sheppard Jacinto
From Barnes & Noble
Hawthorne's masterpiece about Hester Prynne, hapless victim of sin, guilt and hypocrisy in Puritan New England.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400158553
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) was an American author who is perhaps best known for The Scarlet Letter and the short-story collection Twice-Told Tales.

In addition to narrating audiobooks, Shelly Frasier has appeared in many independent film and theater projects in Arizona and southern California, and she has developed character voices for animation projects and done voice-over work for commercials.

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

Scarlet Letter, The

1

The Prison Door

A THRONG OF BEARDED MEN, IN SAD-COLORED GARMENTS and gray, steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak and studded with iron spikes.

The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison. In accordance with this rule, it may safely be assumed that the forefathers of Boston had built the first prison house somewhere in the vicinity of Cornhill almost as seasonably as they marked out the first burial ground, on Isaac Johnson's lot and round about his grave, which subsequently became the nucleus of all the congregated sepulchres in the old churchyard of King's Chapel. Certain it is that,some fifteen or twenty years after the settlement of the town, the wooden jail was already marked with weather-stains and other indications of age which gave a yet darker aspect to its beetle-browed and gloomy front. The rust on the ponderous iron-work of its oaken door looked more antique than anything else in the New World. Like all that pertains to crime, it seemed never to have known a youthful era. Before this ugly edifice, and between it and the wheel-track of the street, was a grass plot, much overgrown with burdock, pigweed, apple peru, and such unsightly vegetation, which evidently found something congenial in the soil that had so early borne the black flower of civilized society, a prison. But on one side of the portal, and rooted almost at the threshold, was a wild rosebush, covered, in this month of June, with its delicate gems, which might be imagined to offer their fragrance and fragile beauty to the prisoner as he went in, and to the condemned criminal as he came forth to his doom, in token that the deep heart of Nature could pity and be kind to him.

This rosebush, by a strange chance, has been kept alive in history; but whether it had merely survived out of the stern old wilderness, so long after the fall of the gigantic pines and oaks that originally overshadowed it—or whether, as there is fair authority for believing, it had sprung up under the footsteps of the sainted Ann Hutchinson, as she entered the prison door—we shall not take upon us to determine. Finding it so directly on the threshold of our narrative, which is now about to issue from that inauspicious portal, we could hardly do otherwise than pluck one of its flowers, and present it to the reader. It may serve, let us hope, to symbolize some sweet moral blossom that may be found along the track, or relieve the darkening close of a tale of human frailty and sorrow.

All new material in this edition is copyright © 1989 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

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Table of Contents

Introduction Michael J. Colacurcio Colacurcio, Michael J.

History in The Scarlet Letter

Note on the Text

Chronology of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Life

The Scarlet Letter

Selected Bibliography

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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.


From the Paperback edition.
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