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The House of the Seven Gables (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble...

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The House of the Seven Gables (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Greed, treachery, mesmerism, and murder are just some of the bricks Hawthorne uses to build The House of the Seven Gables. Generations before the present story begins, wealthy Colonel Pyncheon covets Matthew Maule’s land. When Maule is hanged for witchcraft, he puts a curse on the Colonel—and all his descendants. Now the menacing Judge Pyncheon continues the family tradition of hiding cruelty under a dazzling smile, while his scowling niece, Hepzibah, and half-mad nephew, Clifford, are reduced to poverty by his machinations. But the younger generation, embodied in their distant cousin, Phoebe, becomes a ray of hope penetrating the dark house.

Though Hawthorne openly discusses his book’s “moral” in its preface, The House of the Seven Gables is no dry sermon. In fact, a strong stream of poetic fantasy runs through it, which the author acknowledges by calling it a “romance,” rather than a novel. Like his other great works, The House of the Seven Gables reflects Hawthorne’s rich understanding of complex motives, of individuals caught in the unending struggle between our highest aspirations and our basest desires.

Gordon Tapper, Associate Professor of English at DePauw University, is the author of The Machine That Sings: Modernism, Hart Crane, and the Culture of the Body. He also wrote the Introduction and Notes to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Willa Cather’s My Ántonia.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593082314
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 115,485
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon Tapper, Associate Professor of English at DePauw University, is the author of The Machine That Sings: Modernism, Hart Crane, and the Culture of the Body. He also wrote the Introduction and Notes to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Willa Cather’s My Ántonia.


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

From Gordon Tapper’s Introduction to The House of the Seven Gables

Secrecy, history, crime, and retribution: These subjects fascinated Nathaniel Hawthorne from the very beginning of his career, and they merged with particular force in his third novel, The House of the Seven Gables, which Hawthorne wrote during 1850 and 1851 while enjoying his first flush of celebrity as the acclaimed author of the recently published The Scarlet Letter (1850). Hawthorne was at this time forty-six years old, with more than two decades of writing behind him, having produced close to one hundred meticulously crafted works of short fiction, many of which grapple with the nature of evil, the reverberations of the past, and the psychological ramifications of sin. And yet, despite this impressive output, Hawthorne was exasperated with how long it had taken him to achieve literary fame. “How slowly I have made my way in life!” (quoted in Mellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times, p. 367; see “For Further Reading”) he complained shortly before Seven Gables appeared in April 1851. In part, however, this delay in public recognition was self-imposed, a result of Hawthorne’s congenital reserve. He had in fact begun his career at the auspicious age of twenty-four, when in 1828 he published Fanshawe, though he was so dissatisfied with this derivative novel that he did his best to suppress it. More significant, however, were the stories he began placing in periodicals in 1830, yet all of these early works were published anonymously, and it was not until the 1837 appearance of Twice-Told Tales, his first collection of stories, that Hawthorne was identified as author of any of his texts. Although unsigned publication was fairly common during this period, Hawthorne was more reluctant than most writers to bring this anonymity to an end. Moreover, just as he concealed his name from the public, his fiction is pervaded with secrets and unresolved ambiguities. In his disturbing tale “The Minister’s Black Veil,” for instance, the mysterious veil worn so stubbornly by the protagonist is, on one level, a fictional echo of the psychological barrier that Hawthorne himself was loathe to remove. After his death in 1864, even his wife Sophia declared that “to the last he was in a measure to me a divine Mystery, for he was so to himself” (quoted in Wineapple, Hawthorne: A Life, p. 380).
Born into a family that traced its lineage to the Puritan settlements of New England during the 1630s, Hawthorne was imbued from a very early age with what he termed “a home-feeling with the past” (“The Custom House,” p. 7). This pronounced historical consciousness merged in Hawthorne’s writing with an attraction toward the shadowy recesses of human nature. Herman Melville—with whom Hawthorne developed a remarkable friendship during the 1850s—identified this strain in his fellow writer’s work as a “great power of blackness” (Pierre, Israel Potter, The Piazza Tales, The Confidence-Man, Uncollected Prose, Billy Budd, p. 1159), a faculty that Melville attributed to Hawthorne’s preoccupation with the Calvinistic theology of his Puritan ancestors, with its unforgiving emphasis on the doctrines of innate depravity and original sin. Hawthorne was, however, deeply ambivalent about the legacy of Puritanism. On the one hand, his fiction reproduces the rigorous inspection of conscience so central to Puritan theology, yet it also often satirizes the ideological intolerance and class inequities that Puritanism helped spawn in the United States. This divided view of Puritanism and its foundational role in shaping the national culture are precisely what lend Hawthorne’s fiction much of its depth and complexity.
Hawthorne’s obsession with the nation’s colonial origins was inextricable from his equally intense absorption with his family heritage. As he puts it in his journal, “the spirit of my Puritan ancestors was mighty in me” (quoted in Wineapple, 231). The first of these ancestors to emigrate from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony was William Hathorne, who arrived in Salem in 1636 and played a prominent role in colonial politics, serving as selectman and speaker of the House of Delegates. This forefather was especially admired by his descendants for his indomitable will, which was epitomized by his defiance of King Charles II’s command to return to England in order to answer for colonial disobedience. As Hawthorne confides in his autobiographical essay “The Custom House,” written just one year before he composed The House of the Seven Gables, this ancestral figure was “invested by family tradition with a dim and dusky grandeur . . . present to my boyish imagination, as far back as I can remember” (p. 6). Yet if this patriarch stirred the imagination of the young writer-to-be, he also filled Hawthorne with shame for the less noble acts recorded in colonial annals, such as his persecution of the Quakers, which included commanding that a woman be publicly whipped as punishment for her religious nonconformism. Hawthorne was both intrigued and troubled by the fact that this “persecuting spirit” (“The Custom House,” p. 7) re-emerged in the next generation through the actions of Colonel John Hathorne, who earned notoriety as one of the judges presiding over the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, which involved the prosecution of hundreds and the execution of twenty individuals. For Hawthorne, this recurring impulse to victimize others was disturbing, not only because it compounded his sense of inherited guilt, but also because it suggested that the propensity to sin is transmitted across generations just as surely as physical traits. In Seven Gables, he explores more thoroughly than anywhere else in his fiction the chilling possibility that evil is historically determined, the consequence of an inescapable family legacy.
Not surprisingly, Hawthorne responded to his family’s role in national history with a contradictory mixture of reverence and revulsion, and this deeply felt engagement with the past led him to become what Michael Colacurcio has called a “moral historian” (The Province of Piety, p. 13) of American culture.

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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The House of Seven Gables

    One of Hawthorne's best works. It explains through fiction, what Hawthorne truly believed of the Salem Witch Trials.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2012

    Another book.

    Yes another book. : )

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    House Of Seven Gables

    In the book, House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne tried to connect the past to the present, using generations of family. Back in the colonial era, a Colonel Pyncheon slayed a supposed wizard named Matthew Maule. Pyncheon bought the land and died suspiciously with bloody-hand print on his neck. The story then fast-forwards 3 generations, to a women named Hepzibah Pyncheon. She lived alone in the massive house, except for a tenant named Holgrave. Hepzibah is a lonely old woman, with no friends except Mr. Holgrave. Because of her vision problems, she scowls and everybody has mistaken her for a mean, grumpy lady. In her little store, she spots her cousin Judge Jeffrey Pyncheon, who is blamed for Clifford’s murderous accusation. A relative of theirs, Pheobe Pyncheon arrives that night, staying in the House. Both men, Clifford and Judge Jeffrey fall in love with Phoebe, causing another huge conflict. As Jeffrey tries to kiss Phoebe, things heat up once again between the families. With things getting out of hand, Holgrave decides to write a book about the family. Judge Jeffrey dies from a stroke suddenly, with the town assuming it with Clifford once again, and not knowing what to do, Clifford retreats into the house. I rated this book 3 out of 5, because of the confusing order. In the beginning, it goes back and forth from the colonial era to the present (late 1800’s to early 1900’s). Every now and then, it switches focus from each person, from the Colonel to Mr. Holgrave. Even though it might be confusing at first, once you get into the book, it is hard to put down. The reading goes by fast and the book hooks you. Overall, the book was an okay book, but if you like history and romantic books, you’ll love The House Of Seven Gables.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    Music CD

    LIked the music.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2008

    A Review

    BORING...This book was very slow! I did not enjoy it and had a hard time finishing. It is a well written classic, just not my favorite.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 26, 2010

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