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The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

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by Nathaniel Hawthorne
     
 

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"The House of the Seven Gables" is one of Nathaniel Hawthorne's most famous works. It is the story of the Pyncheon family and the title house, the mansion where they reside. The house, which is built upon land acquired through unscrupulous circumstances, carries with it a curse on the Pyncheon family through the many generations of the family that inherit it. A

Overview

"The House of the Seven Gables" is one of Nathaniel Hawthorne's most famous works. It is the story of the Pyncheon family and the title house, the mansion where they reside. The house, which is built upon land acquired through unscrupulous circumstances, carries with it a curse on the Pyncheon family through the many generations of the family that inherit it. A classic moral tale "The House of the Seven Gables" is the story of how the wrong doings of one generation follows through to its successive ones.

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
From the Publisher
"A large and generous production, pervaded with that vague hum, that indefinable echo, of the whole multitudinous life of man, which is the real sign of a great work of fiction."
—Henry James

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101198278
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/05/2010
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
932,083
File size:
353 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

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.

Meet the Author

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804 - 1864) was an acclaimed American novelist. He was born Nathaniel Hathorne in Salem, Massachusetts, though he added a w to his name to distance himself from his family's involvement in the infamous Salem witch trials of the 1690s. The trials, along with Puritan culture in general, greatly influenced his writings. He is best remembered for his hallmark novels The House of Seven Gables, and The Scarlet Letter.

Susie Berneis is a versatile voice over artist with numerous narration credits to her name. She has an ear for dialect and a love for the process of developing characters, cultivated in her 20-plus years of experience as a community and regional stage actress. Based in Ann Arbor, (home of the University of Michigan, where she received her BA in English and Theatre) Susie now takes great joy in playing all the characters she encounters in her narration.

Brief Biography

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

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