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The House Of The Seven Gables

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up. Hawthorne'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
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From AudioFile
An almost operatic plot told in language that has the precision of architecture makes this classic American tale difficult for many of today's impatient, plot-oriented readers. For this reason, the Naxos production is to be commended. Marinker's enunciation maintains clarity, as well as good momentum. Some ironic nuances escape him, and, at times, he reveals indecision about how much acting to inject into the performance. A case in point is the quavering, falsetto voicing of Aunt Hepzibah. The classical music between breaks is elegant though a couple of transitions are obtrusive and inept. S.B.S. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine

"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

Book Description
The relentless working out of a curse on the Pyncheon family of Salem. who have inhabited the House of Seven Gables for generations, is reviewed two centuries later by their descendants, with surprising results. Seven 90-minute cassettes.

The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1851. Set in mid-19th-century Salem, Mass., the work is a somber study in hereditary sin based on the legend of a curse pronounced on Hawthorne's own family by a woman condemned to death during the infamous Salem witchcraft trials. The greed and arrogant pride of the novel's Pyncheon family through the generations is mirrored in the gloomy decay of their seven-gabled mansion, in which the family's enfeebled and impoverished relations live. At the book's end the descendant of a family long ago defrauded by the Pyncheons lifts his ancestors' curse on the mansion and marries a young niece of the family.

Card catalog description
A cartoon version of the misfortunes that plague a prominent New England family because of greed and a two-hundred-year-old curse.

From the Publisher
8 1.5-hour cassettes

Inside Flap Copy
First published in 1851, The House of the Seven Gables is one of Hawthorne's defining works, a vivid depiction of American life and values replete with brilliantly etched characters. The tale of a cursed house with a "mysterious and terrible past" and the generations linked to it, Hawthorne's chronicle of the Maule and Pyncheon families over two centuries reveals, in Mary Oliver's words, "lives caught in the common fire of history."

This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition uses the definitive text as prepared for The Centenary Edition of the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne; this is the Approved Edition of the Center for Scholarly Editions (Modern Language Association). It includes newly commissioned notes on the text.

From the Back Cover
"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



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