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Scarlet Letter, The

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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From AudioFile
In the early days of Puritan Boston Hester Prynne braves the stigma of adultery by wearing the embroidered scarlet "A" on her clothing. Hill's reading captures the story's pathos and gives the reader empathy for the characters while clarifying Hawthorne's views. Hill distinctly portrays each character and reads the narration clearly and swiftly. The pace conveys a sense of urgency and breathlessness. After hearing this novel, readers will understand why it continues to be a classic. P.A.J. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine

"[Nathaniel Hawthorne] recaptured, for his New England, the essence of Greek tragedy." --Malcolm Cowley

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Book Description
Set in the harsh Puritan community of seventeenth-century Massachusetts, this tale of an adulterous entanglement resulting in an illegitimate birth engendered the first true heroine of American fiction.

Introduction by Nina Baym
Notes by Thomas E. Connolly

The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850. It is considered a masterpiece of American literature and a classic moral study. The novel is set in a village in Puritan New England. The main character is Hester Prynne, a young woman who has borne an illegitimate child. Hester believes herself a widow, but her husband, Roger Chillingworth, returns to New England very much alive and conceals his identity. He finds his wife forced to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as punishment for her adultery. Chillingworth becomes obsessed with finding the identity of his wife's former lover. When he learns that the father of Hester's child is Arthur Dimmesdale, a saintly young minister who is the leader of those exhorting her to name the child's father, Chillingworth proceeds to torment the guilt-stricken young man. In the end Chillingworth is morally degraded by his monomaniacal pursuit of revenge; Dimmesdale is broken by his own sense of guilt, and he publicly confesses his adultery before dying in Hester's arms. Only Hester can face the future bravely, as she plans to take her daughter Pearl to Europe to begin a new life.

Card catalog description
Hester Prynn, a young woman in Puritan Massachusetts, publicly bears the burden of her sin of adultery while her husband secretly exacts his revenge. Presented in comic book format.

From the Publisher
Founded in 1906 by J.M. Dent, the Everyman Library has always tried to make the best books ever written available to the greatest number of people at the lowest possible price. Unique editorial features that help Everyman Paperback Classics stand out from the crowd include: a leading scholar or literary critic's introduction to the text, a biography of the author, a chronology of her or his life and times, a historical selection of criticism, and a concise plot summary. All books published since 1993 have also been completely restyled: all type has been reset, to offer a clarity and ease of reading unique among editions of the classics; a vibrant, full-color cover design now complements these great texts with beautiful contemporary works of art. But the best feature must be Everyman's uniquely low price. Each Everyman title offers these extensive materials at a price that competes with the most inexpensive editions on the market-but Everyman Paperbacks have durable binding, quality paper, and the highest editorial and scholarly standards.

Inside Flap Copy
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.

About the Author
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1865) was born in Salem, Massachusetts, where he wrote short stories of American colonial history.

Nina Baym is the director of the School of Humanities and professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.



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