The House of the Seven Gables

The House of the Seven Gables

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Overview

In a sleepy little New England village stands a dark, weather-beaten, many-gabled house. This brooding mansion is haunted by a centuries-old curse that casts the shadow of ancestral sin upon the last four members of the distinctive Pyncheon family. Mysterious deaths threaten the living. Musty documents nestle behind hidden panels carrying the secret of the family's salvation-or its downfall.Hawthorne called The House of the Seven Gables "a Romance," and freely bestowed upon it many fascinating gothic touches. A brilliant intertwining of the popular, the symbolic, and the historical, the novel is a powerful exploration of personal and national guilt, a work that Henry James declared "the closest approach we are likely to have to the Great American Novel."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780938819820
Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
Publication date: 10/28/1988
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 1.00(h) x 6.80(d)

About the Author

Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts, the son and grandson of proud New England seafarers. He lived in genteel poverty with his widowed mother and two young sisters in a house filled with Puritan ideals and family pride in a prosperous past. His boyhood was, in most respects, pleasant and normal. In 1825 he was graduated from Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, and he returned to Salem determined to become a writer of short stories. For the next twelve years he was plagued with unhappiness and self-doubts as he struggled to master his craft. He finally secured some small measure of success with the publication of his Twice-Told Tales (1837). His marriage to Sophia Peabody in 1842 was a happy one. The Scarlet Letter (1850), which brought him immediate recognition, was followed by The House of the Seven Gables (1851). After serving four years as the American Consul in Liverpool, England, he traveled in Italy; he returned home to Massachusetts in 1860. Depressed, weary of writing, and failing in health, he died on May 19, 1864, at Plymouth, New Hampshire.
Brenda Wineapple authored Sister Brother: Gertrude and Leo Stein and Genet: A Biography of Janet Flanner and is currently at work on a biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne.  She is Washington Irving Professor of Modern Literary and Historical Studies at Union College and has appeared on C-Span’s American Writers series.

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

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.
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The House of the Seven Gables"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction to The House of the Seven Gables
  • Textual Introduction: The House of the Seven Gables
  • Note on the Typesetting
  • Preface

  1. The Old Pyncheon Family
  2. The Little Shop-Window
  3. The First Customer
  4. A Day behind the Counter
  5. May and November
  6. Maule's Well
  7. The Guest
  8. The Pyncheon of To-day
  9. Clifford and Phoebe
  10. The Pyncheon-Garden
  11. The Arched Window
  12. The Daguerreotypist
  13. Alice Pyncheon
  14. Phoebe's Good Bye
  15. The Scowl and Smile
  16. Clifford's Chamber
  17. The Flight of Two Owls
  18. Governor Pyncheon
  19. Alice's Posies
  20. The Flower of Eden
  21. The Departure

  • Textual Notes
  • Editorial Emendations in the Copy-Text
  • Rejected First-Edition Substantive Readings
  • Word-Division
  • Historical Collation
  • Alterations in the Manuscript
  • Compositorial Stints in the First Edition
  • The Centenary Texts: Editorial Principles
  • Appendix to the Second Printing

Reading Group Guide

1. Hawthorne considered this novel to be a romance, which in literary terms refers to a narrative, allegorical treatment of heroic, fantastic, or supernatural events. Do you think this term accurately describes the book? Why or why not?

2. What do you make of the relationship between interior consciousness and external appearance in the novel? How does this conflict, as experienced by each of the central characters, inform the novel? And how does the house serve as a metaphor for this struggle?

3. Discuss the theme of class and social structure in the novel. What do you think Hawthorne intends in his depiction of Hepzibah's and Clifford's slow decline, and the curse on the Pyncheons' house? Are these related in any way? What about the role of the Maules?

4. Is the house a kingdom or a prison? Neither, or both? What is the curse that afflicts the Pyncheons? Discuss.

5. Discuss the role played by Holgrave in the novel. How does his nomadic, rootless existence stand in contrast to the Pyncheons? How does his marriage to Phoebe complicate this?

6. Discuss the scene in which Clifford attempts to join the procession. How does this illuminate the fundamental struggle of the Pyncheon family?

Customer Reviews

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The House of the Seven Gables 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
read this book years a go great book, you do no understand the book until you travel there and see the house in real life .. the house is something to see,to see how he lived hundred years ago is some to see. loved the hiding stair case .. they dont build houses and counting house like that any more.. any one who doesnt like the book needs to go see the house ..
cal8769 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was painful to read. I have been trying to read the Classics but I couldn't even force myself to finish it. There was no room for imagination, every adjective in the world (it seemed) was used to describe every bit of this story. I got so sick of having everything descibed to me that I started obsessing on that instead of following the story.
Clif on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The House of the Seven Gables begins with a preface by the author that identifies the work as a romance, not a novel. That may be the author's preference, but I think most romance fans will be disappointed if they read this book. The book is a classic by a famous American author, so it deserves to be read. Once you finish the book and look over the complete plot, you can see how romantic love has healed a 200-year family curse. Therefore, in that regard it is a romance. However, the experience of reading the book is more like wondering through a dreary haunted labyrinth. I did not find it enjoyable to read. I suppose the book can be considered a parable with a message aimed at the stiff necked 19th Century New England descendants of the Puritans. They are a people who behave in proper ways, but have an ancestral history of executing their neighbors on trumped up charges of witchcraft. They are haunted by a secret guilt of association because of the actions of their ancestors. The story told by this book is about the Pyncheon family that parallels this New England story at large. The book's narrative comes as close as possible to being a ghost story while still remaining within the world of realism. I can imagine that a reader who believes in ghosts can come away from this story with the impression that it is indeed about ghosts. Likewise, another reader who doesn't believe in ghosts will say the story is about people who suspect that there may be ghosts in their lives who are intent on mischief. Either way Nathaniel Hawthorne skillfully weaves a family story filled with angst. One feature of the book that surprised me was the role of Mesmerism (today we call it hypnotism). As described in this book it appears to be occult magic. Likewise, a lot of the melancholia described in this book would today be called clinical depression. Thank goodness for the character of Phoebe in the story. Her young sunny disposition is a breath of fresh air into an otherwise dreary environment. She¿s a reminder of the eternal possibility of renewal brought by young people to human society. Read in November, 2008
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've read a lot of classics but for some reason this was one of the hardest books I've ever read. I can't really say I enjoyed it much but I am glad of the accomplishment of having read it.
kinako on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This story is about a poor woman and her cousin.The house of the Seven Gables was built by Colnel,and same day he died. It was a little difficult for me to understand this book.But I like this book.
dalepink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a poor woman and her cousin's cursed life. The poor woman is very negative, but her surroundings are positive enough to solve their unhappy days. It's difficult to understand for me only one time reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There were little errors here and there that while annoying and inconvenient I did my best to ignore them. I had to stop reading when I got to page 72 and it was missing a page or so to where I felt I had missed something.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the kind of book i like to curl up with on the sofa and read with an apple- and i dont give that praise lightly! I luv Hawthorne. Of course, im only on the 5th or 6th chapter
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rated it 3only because of the garbled script, what i could read of this book was exelent
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This version has a lot of problems with words being misspelled. It is hard to read!
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