18. The House of the Seven Gables: Nathaniel Hawthorne

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18. The House of the Seven Gables: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Post  Patguy on Sun Jan 09, 2011 11:37 pm

“On beholding her, Hepzibah burst into tears. With all her might, she had staggered onward beneath the burden of grief and responsibility, until now that it was safe to fling it down. Indeed, she had not energy to fling it down, but had ceased to uphold it, and suffered it to press her to the earth.”

The famous semi-Gothic novel, which I finally got around to reading after visiting the real House of the Seven Gables in Salem this fall. Hawthorne is a great stylist, and several chapters—especially the opening one that outlines the history of the house and the Pyncheon family—are minor masterpieces. But this is a highly static book, with very little incident, Gothic or otherwise. There’s kind of a sense that Hawthorne is slumming; a lot of the usual Gothic trappings are here, such as spooky paintings, lost wills and secret relatives, but ultimately it doesn’t amount to much of anything. I’m glad to have read it, but it’s not as good as The Scarlet Letter, and not nearly as good as his short story masterpieces.

“It is holy ground where the shadow falls!”

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