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The House of the Seven Gables Audio Cassette – Jan 1 1991


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Audio Cassette, Jan 1 1991
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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Audio Book Contractors (January 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556851545
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556851544
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 17.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By abt1950 on June 24 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
What can you say about Nathaniel Hawthorne's "House of the Seven Gables" that hasn't been said before? It's dark; it's Gothic; much of it is depressing; and the language is dense 19th century prose. Those who read primarily for plot will find it slow going, and those who look for likeable characters may be largely disappointed. In other words, for modern readers, this book may be a tough sell. Personally, I found it a little dull and a letdown after having recently reread (and enjoyed) "The Scarlet Letter."
Nonetheless, "The House of the Seven Gables" has its pleasures. Hawthorne, the scion of an old Massachusetts Puritan family, injects an unusual sense of historical depth into his writings. This is certainly true of "The House of the Seven Gables," which explores the idea of character flaws, evil and retribution passed down from generation to generation in a single family. Of course not everyone in the family is guilty, but the sins of a few taint the lives of all. As in much of Hawthorne's work, the supernatural, sometimes implied and sometimes explicit, plays a role in the workings of the plot. Even the daguerrotypist--nothing but an early photographer to us--must have given the 19th century reader a frisson because of his combination of mesmeric powers and miraculous ability to produce telling images out of pure light.
Hawthorne is a master of description, an expert at using his words to create images that convey far more than simple visuals. Even when the plot seemed stale and the characters wooden, the author's use of the language made it worth continuing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rachel on May 31 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Though there were definitely times when this book was slow or difficult to understand, Hawthorne's writing, through the use of metaphors, allusions and other rhetorical devices is a wonderful accomplishment. It was hard for me to get into the book at the beginning and especially through the long discussion of the Pyncheon family but it payed off to know this information when the climax arose. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, but was not totally impressed by the story, reguardless of the universal themes that apply to us today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By La Fornarina on July 15 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
A slow, leisurely, and deep read. Hawthorne has a wonderful prose style that is uniquely him. He has a poetic way of taking things that seem small or insignificant and making them large and thoughtful. The plot does not move along quickly, but I found that the reading did. The characters seem to move in slow motion for a great majority of the book, and every movement has volumes of meaning. I feel this book is very representative of the emergence of american values of equality, of a disdain for the importance previously placed on pedigree or heritage and of course, of the emphasis on things like virtue, humility, etc. A delicious read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on April 13 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although I'm a big fan of Hawthorne's short stories, this is my first venture into his novel writing. His short stories, by their very nature, move from conflict to climax without much ado. They are preachy, pedantic, and allegorical--and I love them. "...Seven Gables" moves along at a much slower pace, developing symbolism and characters with greater subtlety and depth. The plot itself is not much deeper than one of his short stories. We watch humbled, yet strong Hepzibah struggle for a living from a one room shop in the house. Along the way, she meets a variety of characters and becomes host and confidant to a long-lost relative, gentle Phoebe. Phoebe is sunlight, poking into the shadows of the gabled house, bringing vivacity to its occupants, Hepzibah, Clifford, and Holgrave. Yes, Hawthorne hints at sinister things in the past and present of the old house, but only with the arrival of Judge Pyncheon do we begin to suspect trouble brewing.
The conclusion of the book involves death and hidden riches and suspicions and redemption. The symbols throughout--the house, the chimney, the elm tree, the chickens, etc.--manage to reveal their purposes in due time. In a satisfactory manner, Hawthorne contrasts the insidious nature of religious hypocrisy with the virtues of honesty and gentle love. The horrors of the Pyncheons' past fade away in the light of Phoebe's commitment and care. Her time in the house brings life to all within...all except one.
Hawthorne could've encapsulated this tale in one of his short stories. He could've sliced away words with meticulous demand. Instead, he allows us to know and care for the people in his story. Some readers, granted, will find it difficult to care and will call it a waste of their time; sure, it takes a little effort.
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Format: MP3 CD
"'Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.'
What profit has a man from all his labor
In which he toils under the sun?
One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
But the earth abides forever." -- Ecclesiastes 1:2-4 (NKJV)

Before commenting on the book, let me mention that I've always found it hard to get into. This time I listened to a reading by Donalda Peters and it made all the difference. Give it a try!

The Old Testament tells us that crimes can carry curses into future generations. Hawthorne examines that theme by having Colonel Pyncheon acquire the property of one Mathew Maule through Maule being found guilty of witchcraft in colonial Salem, Massachusetts. On the land was built the House of Seven Gables, and the consequences of the original action certainly seem to singe and tinge the current generation in a variety of ways. Rather than make this just a Biblical tale, Hawthorne beautifully investigates the questions of nature versus nurture in determining character and what choices are made.

Much of the story is told through the use of extended irony of the sort that's found in the book of Ecclesiastes. It's very well written and compelling.

Those who don't like dark stories should realize that there's a special beauty in certain kinds of darkness. And, too, weeping may endure for a night, but joy can come in the morning. Love can conquer quite a lot.
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