Book Review of The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter
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I recently listened to this as an unabridged audio book hoping that that would make this classic easier to stomache. It Didn't.

This author's prose is so complex and convoluted that having to listen to it means REALLY having to listen. I'm now convinced that the print version would have been more appropriate. Not only is it easier in print to mark one's place and set the work aside but it would be satisfying to throw this tome against the wall a time or two.

The story has some redeeming aspects (it's probably one of America's earliest psychological thrillers) but the language is so dated (Thitherto?) that it's a chore to get through this and the poor reader of this audio version did an OK job but would ocassionally lose the meaning of the sub sub sub clauses.

Any high school or middle school English teacher that still assigns this as required should be brought up on charges of crimes against humanity. It would drive any reluctant reader to not only swear off reading altogether but might drive some to the Oedipal lengths of gouging one's eyes out with broaches.

As I listened to this and gazed at one of the Harry Potter novels on my shelf it occured to me... Why give Harry Potter a blood letting quill... just have him transcribe this swill!"

Though the setting is antique this was released only one year before Moby Dick and yet it reads as awkwardly as if it were written a century or two before.

I've heard it said that one of the main reasons that Franklin Pierce got elected President was that he was good buddies with Hawthorne and Hawthorne actually wrote his biography. If was anything like the prose here, one wonders "how could that have helped?"

Finally Hawthorne provides the best words to critique his work when he describes the book that sent poor Dimsdale to dreamland in one of the books crucial scenes... "A Work of vast ability in the somniferous school of literature."

Pretty much wrote his own review there...