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The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
It is 1642 in the Puritan town of Boston. Hester Prynne has been found guilty of adultery and has born an illegitimate child. In lieu of being put to death, she is condemned to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress as a reminder of her shameful act. — Hester's husband had been lost at sea years earlier and was presumed dead, but now reappear...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780895771841
ISBN-10: 0895771845
Publication Date: 1984
Pages: 221
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 27

4 stars, based on 27 ratings
Publisher: Reader's Digest Association, Inc.
Book Type: Hardcover
Other Versions: Paperback, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 25 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
I never read this book in high school and frankly, I'm glad I didn't. I don't believe an un-married modern teenager could fathom what the characters in this book are experiencing. I had expected to slog through and did not expect to enjoy it, reading it only because my book club chose it. How wrong I was!

The antiquated prose style takes getting used to, but once acclimated to the cadence, one can really enjoy the juicy morsels Hawthorne dishes up. This book is not for the faint of heart! High melodrama with good guys and bad guys and the ever self-posessed Hester Prynne. Deep themes of good and evil and the nature of man. And the writing! People just don't write like this any more...people don't even think like this any more and for that I love this book.

There are passages in this book that are as vivid as if I'd seen them in a painting. There were moments when I wanted to SCREAM at Hester Prynne, so vivid and palpable was her denial of her own rights.

If you are ready to be brought back to another time and place...read this book
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Sometimes it's tough to slog through the writing of Hawthorne. Not to mention the speech of the Pilgrims. But it's worth it.

I recently re-read this (after 40 years) and oddly enough, the book has drastically improved. As a teenager, in English class, we were scandalized by Hester's um, well, you know. But I now see a richer, more textured story fraught with many tragedies.

Hester Prynne, a single woman in a pilgrim colony, becomes pregnant. She is ostracized, forced to live apart, and is obstinant in her refusal to name the father. She must wear a big, bright red "A" whenever in public (and is ordered to sew these herself). Known to the reader, the father is the preacher.

This is also a love story. Their love, deep and abiding, is filled with gentleness as they secretly meet in the forest. The preacher, a good man, insists on admitting the truth; Hester won't let him. Her daughter is born and life goes on.

Meantime, Hawthorne subtlely points the reader in the direction of the village hypocrites, the liars, the politics, the gossip-mongoring, and the money-grubbers.

There is much more to this novel than a simple scandal. It is a classic because it resonates with its all-too-human readers. Buy it. Read it. Keep it.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Set in an early New England colony, a married woman has an affair with a prominent figure, she gets impregnated. The whole town finds out about this, but she will not tell who the father of her baby is and as a punishment she is condemned to wear a letter A for adultery. This is a story about the woman, her lover and the struggles that she and her lover go through
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 52 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
I read this book when I was in middle school, and now, twenty years later, it holds even more power. It's a delightful story that says a great deal about the fact that what you see is not always what you get...that there is always more to the story than what meets the eye. I loved this book twenty years ago, and I'm sure that in another twenty years, it will still hold the same delight and insight.
bearcub avatar reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
this book was very hard for me to read. The text felt like a different language, I loved the story and the characters where so real. but if you're going to read this be warned it took me an hour to get through ten pages. Its a slow read and at times i want to put it down but it was so worth reading.
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reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 35 more book reviews
A must-read for those interested in New England of the past.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 28 more book reviews
Might be on your college or high school reading list! It was on mine, so I was "forced" to read it, but enjoyed it none-the-less.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 257 more book reviews
The Scarlet Letter is the story of three New England settlers at odds with the puritan society in which they live. Roger Chillingworth, an aging scholar, arrives in New England after two years' separation from his wife Hester to find her on trial for adultery. For refusing to reveal her lover's identity, she is condemned to wear a letter 'A' sewn onto her clothes. Roger resolves to discover and destroy the man who has stolen his honor.

For the next seven years the participants in this bizarre love triangle privately suffer the consequences of betrayal, cowardice, and humiliation. Slowly but surely, the need for redemption grows in each as the story hastens toward its dramatic close. The Scarlet Letter is Nathaniel Hawthorne's masterpiece.

The handsome volumes in The Collectors Library present great works of world literature in a handy hardback format. Printed on high-quality paper and bound in real cloth, each complete and unabridged volume has a specially commissioned afterword, brief biography of the author and a further-reading list. This easily accessible series offers readers the perfect opportunity to discover, or rediscover, some of the world's most endearing literary works.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 188 more book reviews
Classic American fiction based in 17th century Puritan community in New England. This edition has a foreward by Leo Marx, signet classic binding. First read this in high school, very crisp and readable compared to other "classics", language is fairly modern. Try this again if you haven't read it recently!
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 9 more book reviews
A classic.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on
A wonderful classic by Nathaniel Hawthorne! Great for students.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 7 more book reviews
Published by Dell Paperbacks, 1950.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 55 more book reviews
A classic.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 7 more book reviews
Well written account of life at the time, although occasionally long-winded. Good character development.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 4 more book reviews
I read this in high school. It is a great character and color meaning study.
havan avatar reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 138 more book reviews
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...
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 40 more book reviews
It's been ages since I read this, but it's definitely a classic. This story is a wonderful view into a time when, much like today, religion was a fierce weapon. Nathaniel Hawthorne was clearly a master of not only storytelling, but the basic human psychology, and this tale is among his finest.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 23 more book reviews
Timeless.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on
One of my favorite books of all time. I posted it due to the small size of the book- it fits in a pocket book and is the size of a wallet so you can read anywhere...
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 15 more book reviews
A great classic.
scrapbooklady avatar reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 472 more book reviews
"The Scarlet Letter" is written in puritan plain style and has virtually no dialogue for you to enjoy...
perryfran avatar reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 959 more book reviews
Finished reading this with my daughter as part of a school assignment. All I can say is that I'm glad I didn't have to read this in high school! The book was written in 1850, around the same time as Moby Dick (another classic I have put off reading). I guess Scarlet Letter does have a message -- be true to yourself and strive to be individualistic. And it does delve into the morals (or lack thereof)in Puritanical Society, but trudging through the tortuous journey was really a struggle for both me and my daughter. The language used in the book may well have been common language in 1850, but trying to decipher it in 2012 was a chore to say the least. Seems like Hawthorne would go on for paragraphs trying to describe a scene or say something meaningful but would usually leave us saying, "huh?" I know this is a classic but I would only recommend it slightly.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 60 more book reviews
Reader's Digest edition with beautiful binding, ribbon placemarker, beautiful patterned endpapers.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 79 more book reviews
From the jacket:
The Scarlet Letter is Nathaniel Hawthornes most famous and highly praised novel. Set in the severe Puritan community of 17th century Boston, it is a deeply moving novel, rich in psychological insight and human truths. Its main character, Hester Prynne, is Hawthorne's greatest creation. Publicly disgraced and ostracized, she draws on her inner strength and certainty of spirit to emerge as the first true heroine of American fiction.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 199 more book reviews
The classic story of Hester Prynne's punishment for adultery by her Puritan judges. Set in New England of the seventeenth century.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 34 more book reviews
Personally, I thought Hawthorne's stories in "Twice Told Tales" were much better than this. The characters's suffering seemed to overt and not at all subtle.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 28 more book reviews
Popular Classics Library hardcover editon of this great classic by Nathaniel Hawthorne
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 718 more book reviews
The summary of the book shown at the top of this page is about another book. Puritans and adultery are the topics of this book, and the primary character is a woman, not a 15 year old boy!
emmaausten7 avatar reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 54 more book reviews
The symbolism struck me quite strongly while reading. Nice story.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 7 more book reviews
This is a wonderful narrative of this classic piece of literature. I would highly recommend this set to any library.
katethegreat avatar reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 69 more book reviews
A terrific book exposing one of man's failures and how it effects those around them.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 39 more book reviews
This book was the bane of my existence in 10th grade. I read it again a few years after seeing and loving the PBS miniseries with Meg Foster and John Heard. I found that I really enjoyed it once I read it at my own leisure and skipped over that boring Custom House introduction.
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 200 more book reviews
This is a wonderful book full of judgement, love, hate, all the raw human emotions. You will thoroughly enjoy it. I did !
reviewed The Scarlet Letter on + 16 more book reviews
The Scarlet Letter
An ardent young woman, her cowardly lover and her aging, vengeful husband - these are the central characters in this stark drama of the conflict between passion and convetion in the harsh, Puritan world of seventeenth-century Boston. Tremendously moving, rich in psychological insight, this tragic novel of shame and redemption reveals Hawthorne's concern with the New England past and its influence on American attitudes. From his dramatic illumination of the struggles between mind and heart, dogma and self-reliance, he fashioned one of the masterpieces of fiction. "the one American literary work which comes as near to perfection as is granted a man to bring his achievements." - Arnold Bennett
With a Foreword by Leo Marx
Published by the New American Library
A signet classic

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