Introduced by Brenda Wineapple
Illustrated by Francis Mosley
Pyncheon family live in a creaking New England mansion and as the brooding atmosphere grows, they realise that their ancestors bequeathed them a lot more than bricks and mortar; the sins of the past are coming back to haunt them.
'God will give him blood to drink!’ A noose about his neck, the ‘wizard’ Matthew Maule curses his enemy with his dying breath. So begins Nathaniel Hawthorne’s suspenseful gothic romance, a story that explores the legacy of guilt, the folly of greed and land-lust, the unreliability of memory and the elusive influence of the past on the present.
'A great work of fiction'
Like his earlier novel, The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables reflects Hawthorne’s ambivalence towards the confident ideals of the New England Puritans. By birth, he was accustomed to their vision of America as a ‘New Jerusalem’ – one of his ancestors was a judge in the Salem witch trials of 1692. But this also made him wary of Puritan shibboleths, from the danger of rigid social mores to the potentially catastrophic fusion of religious fervour, isolationism and fear. In The House of the Seven Gables, an accusation of malign magic precipitates two hundred years of misfortune. Disposing of his rival for land by prompting his execution, Colonel Pyncheon builds a ‘great house’, but bequeaths his descendants a moral stain that is renewed in murder and deceit.
'The illustrations and cover are just right-- gloomy and inviting-- and I'm thrilled to be a part of this marvelous series. Thanks again Folio for all you've done.'
It is often said that the novel’s central character – depicted with great poignancy – is the family’s crumbling abode: ‘It was both sad and sweet to observe how Nature adopted to herself this desolate, decaying, gusty, rusty, old house… and how the ever-returning Summer did her best to gladden it with tender beauty, and grew melancholy in the effort.’ Even when love redeems the burden of sin, the house, ‘like a great human heart’, lives on stoically as a monument to the tragedies of the past. In her introduction to this edition, award-winning Hawthorne biographer Brenda Wineapple notes the novel’s rapturous reception in England, its impact reportedly matching that of Jane Eyre. We commissioned Francis Mosley to illustrate our edition because of his narrative style and gothic sensibility. His etchings fully capture the suspense and emotional intensity of the story.
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Review by sibilum on 17th Feb 2013
Review by Raikoh_911 on 14th Mar 2012
"I have always been a fan of Nathaniel Hawthorne and bought this on the day it came out. The binding of the book is well made and slightly different to folio's usual covers. The paper has a grippy fee..." [read more]