Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wasn't Wild About This One, But It's Still Classic

Nathaniel Hawthorne's "House Of The Seven Gables" is not one of my favorites. It's a Gothic classic, but not one of those books that "dropped my anchor" personally (so to speak).

Suggested by a very real house in Salem, Massachusetts the first chapter of Hawthorne's fiction published in 1851 lays the foundation of the dark story, delivering through a kind of twisted excitement the mystery and the curse on the family that resided therein, who in the end find their freedom by abandoning the house. This work is perhaps simultaneously both unknown and most well known influences of idea of "the haunted house." Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft are among those inspired by Hawthorne's novel.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called the book, "weird" and "wild." Another critic called the book "an affliction . . . [that] affects one like a passage through the wards of an insane asylum." Though a friend of Hawthorne, Herman Melville offered what is perhaps the most accurate review of Hawthorne's work stating, "There is a certain tragic phase of humanity which, in our opinion, was never more powerfully embodied than by Hawthorne. We mean the tragicalness [sic] of human thought in its own unbiased, native, and profounder workings. We think that into no recorded mind has the intense feeling of the visible truth ever entered more deeply than into this man's."

If one desires to be exposed to good literature, this work should not be overlooked, but be prepared for the journey. Read it in daylight, with the windows open.

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