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Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
(Classic works have few, if any, mainstream press reviews online. See Amazon and Barnes & Noble for helpful customer reviews.)

The Scarlet Letter, a romantic work of fiction in a historical setting is considered Nathaniel Hawthorne's magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.... The book's immediate and lasting success are due to the way it addresses spiritual and moral issues from a uniquely American standpoint. In 1850, adultery was an extremely risque subject, but because Hawthorne had the support of the New England literary establishment, it passed easily into the realm of appropriate reading. It has been said that this work represents the height of Hawthorne's literary genius; dense with terse descriptions. It remains relevant for its philosophical and psychological depth, and continues to be read as a classic tale on a universal theme.
Literary Classics Press


The style of Hawthorne is purity itself. His tone is singularly effective—wild, plaintive, thoughtful, and in full accordance with his themes... We look upon him as one of the few men of indisputable genius to whom our country has as yet given birth.
Edgar Allan Poe (said of Hawthorne generally)


It is beautiful, admirable, extraordinary; it has in the highest degree that merit which I have spoken of as the mark of Hawthorne's best things--an indefinable purity and lightness of conception...One can often return to it; it supports familiarity and has the inexhaustible charm and mystery of great works of art
Henry James


If we have a national heroine of our version of the Protestant will in America, then it must be Hester Prynne, Hawthorne's triumph.
Harold Bloom




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