books The House of the Seven Gables By Nathaniel Hawthorne – Avengersinfinitywarfullmovie.de

The illustrious Pyncheon family had quite a useful reign, but that was long ago its founder Col.Pyncheon a stout, merciless Puritan and able soldier, helped wipe out the scourge the evil threat of the abominable witches, in the honorable Salem trials of 1692 For his just reward he happened by pure accident, to take over the property of old Matthew Maule Still a splendid , beautiful area the perfect place to set his building the magnificent Seven Gables,the Colonel s new mansion for his noble The illustrious Pyncheon family had quite a useful reign, but that was long ago its founder Col.Pyncheon a stout, merciless Puritan and able soldier, helped wipe out the scourge the evil threat of the abominable witches, in the honorable Salem trials of 1692 For his just reward he happened by pure accident, to take over the property of old Matthew Maule Still a splendid , beautiful area the perfect place to set his building the magnificent Seven Gables,the Colonel s new mansion for his noble efforts.The wicked Wizard Maule , met his proper end at Gallows Hill Things do not stay the same unfortunately, the family and House of the Seven Gables have seen better days In fact truthfully at one time few would argue against it being ranked among the best edifices in colonial Massachusetts That wasthan 150 years ago this building, shall we reiterate is a little run down a dump in reality Hepzibah Pyncheon, an old maid , with nevertheless a wonderful name is now all alone, the only exception a young boarder, Mr.Holgrave A daguerreotypist, as a resident the poor Hepzibah has to open a cent store, also to make a living what a humiliating situation for an upper class woman, from a formerly prominent family Also visiting a relative Phoebe Pyncheon, a penniless country cousin with all that implies, the girl has no idea why the brother of Miss Pyncheon, Clifford returns home after 30 years, was it for some crime Nobody is talking and the 17 year old girl doesn t ask too many questions, she is a guest after all and very grateful Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, a rich distinguished man once a member of Congress and his son traveling around Europe somewhere, are the last male Pyncheons, not counting the unfortunate and sick Clifford, nobody does People stay away from the strange house rumors about ghosts and unexplained deaths, are a constant source of gossip for the dull town The bored Clifford likes to blow soap bubbles from the second story of the mansion, one hits his haughty cousin the distinguished gentleman on the nose.The prosperous relative now has an excuse to visit, wanting to talk to Clifford, about a vague proposition but the nervous ex inmate, blames the aloof magistrate for his troubles refuses A dark , strange thick atmosphere engulfs the premises, the ancient crumbling House of the Seven Gables, will some sunshine ever brighten it A classic novel not as exciting as when it was first published, yet worth reading still Over a century and a half after being first written, many events have shocked the world making this rather mild in comparison Did Hawthorne s, author of The Scarlet Letter, a monumental work evil ancestors involvement in the notorious Salem kangaroo trials, gullible adults fooled by emotional delusional bad children with no consciousDid these killings of innocent people, haunt the great author The sins of one generation are visited upon another in a haunted New England mansion until the arrival of a young woman from the country breathes new air into mouldering lives and rooms Written shortly after The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables re addresses the theme of human guilt in a style remarkable in both its descriptive virtuosity and its truly modern mix of fantasy and realism Note, March 17, 2018 I edited this again slightly, just to change the formatting of a long quotation.Note, May 14, 2016 I edited this review just now to make a slight factual correction.During the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, when real life accused witch Sarah Good was about to hanged, she pointed at one of the witch hunters, Rev Nathaniel Noyes, who was looking on approvingly, and shouted, I m noa witch than you are, and if you murder me, God will give you blood to drink an allusi Note, March 17, 2018 I edited this again slightly, just to change the formatting of a long quotation.Note, May 14, 2016 I edited this review just now to make a slight factual correction.During the Salem witch hysteria of 1692, when real life accused witch Sarah Good was about to hanged, she pointed at one of the witch hunters, Rev Nathaniel Noyes, who was looking on approvingly, and shouted, I m noa witch than you are, and if you murder me, God will give you blood to drink an allusion to Revelation 16 6 Years later, Noyes suffered a throat aneurism, and did die literally drinking his own blood a fact that wasn t lost on the keepers of New England s traditions.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born and raised in Salem and lived there much of his adult life , a descendant of the Judge Hathorne who was one of the judges in the witch trials, and the only one who never repented of it later The author added the w to his own name to disassociate himself from the judge, and other ancestors who persecuted Quakers, etc His family heritage, and the intellectual debates taking place in the New England of his formative years over the region s inherited Calvinist orthodoxy, prompted him to give a lot of serious attention to questions of predestination, original sin, and inherited guilt The House of the Seven Gables can be seen as his most direct literary exploration of these themes It opens with a recap of the scene described above, but with the names and, in the case of the witch, the gender changed but it then telescopes time, so that Col Pyncheon dies of a throat aneurism soon afterwards on the day of the planned house warming for the great, seven gabled mansion he s built on the land he railroaded Matthew Maule to execution in order to steal That house is a real structure in Salem, and still stands today, though the Pyncheons are fictitious Hawthorne then skips down to his own time, while noting that the intervening generations of Pyncheons have shared their ancestor s nasty personality and, often, his mode of death bloody aneurisms have run in the family But not all Pyncheons share the family s legacy of greedy selfishness Clifford, Hephzibah and Phoebe are decent people, despite being Pyncheons, because they ve made their own choices in life as to what kind of people they d become for them, inheritance wasn t destiny, and therein lies Hawthorne s major point Like Hawthorne himself an Arminian Christian who repudiated the moral outrages his family once stood for they ve exercised their free will to choose good over evil Not everybody does that but everybody can do it, and has a moral responsibility to do it, a view totally opposite to both Calvinist predestinarianism and modern chemical social determinism In his narrative voice, Hawthorne addresses Judge Pyncheon with the clear language of personal moral responsibility and choiceRise up, thou subtle, worldly, selfish, ironhearted hypocrite, and make thy choice whether still to be subtle, worldly, selfish, ironhearted, and hypocritical, or to tear these sins out of thy nature, though they bring the lifeblood with them The Avenger is upon thee Rise up, before it is too late Both of my Goodreads friends who ve reviewed this novel consider it inferior to The Scarlet Letter I ll concede that point its plot doesn t have the dramatic tension of the latter though it has some It s not as strong in that regard as the author s less well known novels The Blithedale Romance and The Marble Faun, either But it has its appeal nonetheless it s perhaps the most Gothic of Hawthorne s novels, and it s message driven without losing sight of the very real, often poignant human story it s telling.Hawthorne s ornate 19th century diction isn t problematic to me, but will be a bane to many modern readers That s a matter of misguided self conditioning and prejudice in most cases, though, IMO Contrary to what many modern readers automatically assume, expanding one s vocabulary and being able to decipher complex sentences doesn t take being born with some kind of genius level IQ it only takes patience, application and motivation, and I think the pay off is worth it.Note 1 Joseph Schwartz s Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804 1864 God and Man in New England, contained in American Classics Reconsidered A Christian Appraisal provides an excellent treatment of Hawthorne s often misunderstood religious thought.Note 2 The 1940 movie adaptation starring Vincent Price as Clifford does not follow the novel very closely big surprise, coming from Hollywood NOT Among other things, the scriptwriters made Hephzibah his love interest rather than his sister Note 3 Though I ve read this book at least twice originally as a teen , I ve never read it in the edition above The one I own and most recently read has no supplementary material except a good short biography of Hawthorne and a brief Forward and Afterword, all by Andre Norton This is the worst book ever written in the English language that is somehow celebrated against far superior novels from the same era, somehow earning him enough respect to have his crusty face emblazoned onto the Library of Congress.If the story were to take place in modern day Atlanta, it would be about some inbred, old money steel magnolia losing her shit up in Buckhead, and dragging her family down with her while she squanders what little remains of their inheritance on palm readers and telem This is the worst book ever written in the English language that is somehow celebrated against far superior novels from the same era, somehow earning him enough respect to have his crusty face emblazoned onto the Library of Congress.If the story were to take place in modern day Atlanta, it would be about some inbred, old money steel magnolia losing her shit up in Buckhead, and dragging her family down with her while she squanders what little remains of their inheritance on palm readers and telemarketers Throw in the distant trailer trash relative from Woodstock, a bum selling Cutco knives, the Gulf War Syndrome addled veteran brother, and Wayne Mason Besides waiting for people to stop talking and describing things, the rest of the plot centers around walking around the house and hearing the characters complain about their lack of money and prestige.You take that story, rewind it about 175 years, add some baroque embellishment to every sentence you write, using the exclamation mark liberally, and you ve got THE HOUSE OF THE SEVEN GABLES I always imagine Nathaniel Hawthorne as being the trust fund baby of his time Having bored himself on sherry and biscuits How exhausting , decides to forgo taking care of his plants, and retire to his study to pen a novel for us He s like the writer of today who leaves his meditation room, hops in his Mercedes Benz to the nearest Applebee s and scrawls another Zen and business book on a cocktail napkin, turning 50 pages of bullshit into 198 in 14 point San Serif font that every pink bubble faced middle manager is going to have on their office shelf by the end of the week Nathaniel Hawthorne was that guy, in his day.Why does he get praise for this crap I think saying that there are dark psychological themes throughout is a nice way of saying having read this, I couldn t decide if I should use the hose to pipe carbon monoxide into my house or to hang myself oh bother, there s another page The only interpretation I have is that his contemporaries just wanted to be nice to him and gentleman like, encouraging him every now and then but for the most part trying to ignore him in the hopes he d find a different hobby to harp about Fast forward and everyone s like Damn, he must be good and for lack of imagination or god forbid, actually reading the damn book to see if it s any good, it s going to appear on every high school student s summer reading list until the end of times I actually enjoyed this one Nathaniel Hawthorne has a unique way of writing and I think it he s hit or miss For instance I didn t care for The Scarlett Letter but I really liked Young Goodman Brown This story explored themes of guilt and generational sin I felt all the characters had connectedness yet they were all trying to either run away from each other and their past sins guilt.I enjoyed the darker gothic tone of the story The dark and shadowy house played a major role and even acte I actually enjoyed this one Nathaniel Hawthorne has a unique way of writing and I think it he s hit or miss For instance I didn t care for The Scarlett Letter but I really liked Young Goodman Brown This story explored themes of guilt and generational sin I felt all the characters had connectedness yet they were all trying to either run away from each other and their past sins guilt.I enjoyed the darker gothic tone of the story The dark and shadowy house played a major role and even acted as a character Several days had passed over the seven gables, heavily and drearily enough In fact, an easterly storm had set in, and indefatigably applied itself to the task of making the black roof and walls of the old house lookcheerless than ever before pg 192The backstory of Salem witchcraft, a curse, and the mysterious deaths gave subtle elements of the supernatural The descriptive imagery helped carry the story the quiver of the moonbeams they dance hand in hand with the shadows pg 241Overall in enjoyed this story The reading sometimes was tedious and slow but helped with the overall story I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good story Thanks This narrative, published in 1850, starts with a preface by Hawthone explaining his concept of the Romance, which is to be distinguished from the Novel because it provides the writer with greater latitude to takes risks The Novel is somehowstraightforward,conservative, less flexible as a vehicle for experimentation.The first chapter gives us the backstory in a kind of lump sum Most contemporary novelists probably write such a backstory but often cut it, since, lacking action and ch This narrative, published in 1850, starts with a preface by Hawthone explaining his concept of the Romance, which is to be distinguished from the Novel because it provides the writer with greater latitude to takes risks The Novel is somehowstraightforward,conservative, less flexible as a vehicle for experimentation.The first chapter gives us the backstory in a kind of lump sum Most contemporary novelists probably write such a backstory but often cut it, since, lacking action and character, it can seem too schematic and impersonal Hawthorne s backstory is perhaps no exception But, it has the virtue of being 160 years old, and that, combined with its antiquated vocabulary, deftly wielded, combines to hook the reader The backstory spills all the beans of this fantastic narrative, including the heinous crime, the resulting curse, the astonishing event at the housewarming and the collective guilt that is said to course through each suceeding generation of the Pyncheon family.When we reach the action of the present day, it s a particularly low moment in the Pyncheon family s fortunes Hepzibah, the permanently scowling seemingly sole survivor of the line, is forced to open what was at the time known as a cent shop in a corner of the grand though decaying house There s nerve wracking suspense here Hawthorne seems to wring it from every word His mode of storytelling is simultaneously achingly and beautifully slow There s one scene, for example, in which he lingers over a simple breakfast Each item seems lovingly revealed there s a sumptuousness to the language that seems to belie the meal s simplicity The gaze throughout smacks of the voyeuristic as if the dead, who are no longer permitted such pleasures, were narrating.The narrative is marked by a number of oppositions in terms of imagery gloom and sunshine, animal and spiritual, age and youth, ugliness and beauty, exhaustion and vitality Clifford embodies many of these He is put forth as the spoiled and decadent figure and symbol of the family s fortunes He is obviously homosexual, something Hawthorne, working in the era he did, could only vaguely touch upon Yet in the end he is mindful enough to turn this clich on its head For Clifford, it turns out, is not the symbol of the decaying family, but an individual, just one, from whose shoulders at the end of the book all unfair connotation seems justly lifted.Clifford has an artist s sensibility without the artistry He is a dilettante The Daguerrotypist, who lives beneath one of the House s gables, is referred to as the artist The contrast is intentional The fellow with the so called artistic sensibilities is not an artist at all, but one who makes his living from a simple mechanical process Clifford, by contrast, lives for beauty It infuses his every happy moment Without it he is corpse like, almost inert A clueless group here in goodreads.com made this this its book of the month read under the Horror genre when there is no horror in it The author called it, instead, a Romance but there is no romance in it, either, except a brief declaration of love for each other of two protagonists towards the end with all its unmistakable phoniness How can you love a simple girl like me Duh, all men profess to love simple girls.This is actually a sex book written under the atmosphere of sexual repre A clueless group here in goodreads.com made this this its book of the month read under the Horror genre when there is no horror in it The author called it, instead, a Romance but there is no romance in it, either, except a brief declaration of love for each other of two protagonists towards the end with all its unmistakable phoniness How can you love a simple girl like me Duh, all men profess to love simple girls.This is actually a sex book written under the atmosphere of sexual repression during the mid 19th century.There is this big, old house with seven gables, of course which has a dark past that can be traced back to a hundred or so years Displayed inside is a portrait of the house s builder and original owner, Colonel Pyncheon Its present occupants are a brother and a sister, both Pyncheons too, descendants of the Colonel, both decrepit and poor The brother, Clifford, had apparently lost his marbles and acts, at times, like a child.They have a border, occupying one of the house s seven gables, a young, good looking artist Later comes for a visit and she eventually became a occupant another Pyncheon, a cousin of the brother and sister She s young and pretty And what would a story be without a villain So we have Judge Pyncheon, another cousin rich, powerful and a look alike of Colonel Pyncheon in the portrait and said to be as evil as the original.Everything needed for gothic sex is here a big, old gloomy house which, in the dictionary, can mean a brothel , reminiscent of the castle in Marquis de Sade s 120 Days of Sodom an unattractive sex starved character the sister, a spinster, with a permanent scowl on her face and with a sado masochistic name Hepzibah one with an infantile taste for sex the brother named Clifford, off in the head the stud the artist border, Holgrave , a permanent fixture in all porn films a nubile object of delectation and ready for corruption the young lady from the country who first came for a visit and with the equally nubile name Phoebe and a villain Judge Pyncheon.The first sex scene symbolically only remember this was in the 19th century when the Philippines was still firmly under Spanish rule is where Hepzibah opened up her small store to earn her upkeep, like she is opening her legs for the first time in her life after she is forced to earn money by prostitution Her first customer is the stud artist He asks her if he can assist her any further in her preparation When Hepzibah saw the young man s smile looking so much the brighter on a thoughtful face and heard his kindly tone, she broke first into a hysteric giggle and then began to sob Ah, Mr Holgrave, cried she, as soon as she could speak, I never can go through with it Never, never, never I wish I were dead, and in the old family tomb, with all my forefathers With my father, and my mother, and my sister Yes, and with my brother, who had far better find me there than here The world is too chill and hard and I am too old, and too feeble, and too hopeless The stud, Holgrave, however gives her words of encouragement Oh, believe me, Miss Hepzibah, these feelings will not trouble you any longer, after you are once fairly in the midst of your enterprise They are unavoidable at this moment, standing, as you do, on the outer verge of your long seclusion, and peopling the world with ugly shapes, which you will soon find to be as unreal as the giants and ogres of a child s storybook I find nothing so singular in life as that everything appears to lose its substance the instant one actually grapples with it So it will be with what you think so terrible The exchange then continues But I am a woman said Hepzibah, piteously I was going to say a lady, but I consider that as past Well, no matter if it be past answered the artist, a strange gleam of half hidden sarcasm flashing through the kindliness of his manner Let it go You are the better without it For Clifford, the retard, nothing isbeautiful than Phoebe He took unfailing note of every charm that appertained to her sex, and saw the ripeness of her lips, and the virginal development of her bosom But since he is such a child, all he can do is to touch her flower and smell it His feeling for flowers was very exquisite, and seemed not so much a taste as an emotion he was fond of sitting with one in his hand, intently observing it, and looking from its petals into Phoebe s face, as if the garden flower were the sister of the household maiden Not merely was there a delight in the flower s perfume, or pleasure in its beautiful form, and the delicacy or brightness of his hue With Phoebe by his side his little weapon comes alive now with the lesson thoroughly by heart, he could with difficulty comprehend his little airy happiness Frequently, there was a dim shadow of doubt in his eyes Take my hand, Phoebe, he would say, and pinch it hard with your little fingers Give me a rose, that I may press it thorns, and prove myself awake by the sharp touch of pain Evidently, he desired this PRICK of a trifling anguish What about the villain Judge Pyncheon Here he is compared with the long dead Colonel Pyncheon and the clear implication is that both were as debauch and cruel as any of Marquis de Sade s sick heroes The Puritan Colonel Pyncheon , again, an autocrat in his own household, had worn out three wives, and, merely by remorseless weight and hardness of his character in the conjugal relation, had sent them, one after another, brokenhearted, to their graves The Judge had wedded but a single wife, and lost her in the third or fourth year of their marriage There was a fable, however for such we choose to consider it, though not impossibly typical of Judge Pynchon s marital deportment that the lady got her death blow in the honeymoon, and never smiled again, because her husband compelled her to serve him with coffee every morning at his bedside, in token of fealty to her liege lord and master What is this, what is this serving him WITH coffee every morning at his bedside like he was her liege lord and master and which was so gross as to be the equivalent of a DEATH BLOW My lascivious readers, your guess is absolutely correct What could bedebasing than forcing your wife to give you a blowjob in the morning while she drinks her coffee ETA A VERY SHORT REVIEWFirst the book was difficult because of dense language Then the language lightened up and I could enjoy parts At the end it went rapidly downhill, being slapstick in style I could have saved myself a lot of time and just written this as my review Halfway down a by street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in th ETA A VERY SHORT REVIEWFirst the book was difficult because of dense language Then the language lightened up and I could enjoy parts At the end it went rapidly downhill, being slapstick in style I could have saved myself a lot of time and just written this as my review Halfway down a by street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst Here is the house Hawthorne is speaking of is The House of Seven Gables It exists still today, in Salem, Massachusetts, built in 1668 by sea captain and merchant John Turner Nathaniel Hawthorne 1804 1864 lived in Salem His cousin, Susanna Ingersoll, was at this time the house s owner, and Hawthorne visited her there Hawthorne has imagined a fictional family, the Pyncheons He has drawn a gothic story about them, their lives and this house In the tale, Colonel Pyncheon has the house built by carpenter Matthew Maule A legal dispute arises, deeds are lost, thereafter follow gruesome deaths and talk of the supernatural Who has the right to live there This information sets the stage Only thereafter does the story really begin two centuries later, in the 1850s.We meet five Pyncheon descendants, Hepzibah, Phoebe, Clifford, Venner and Judge Jaffrey, as well as Holgrave the daguerrotypist and Ned Higgins, a child fond of gingerbread cookies Through flashbacks we learn about the interim years and come to meet Alice and Gervayse Pyncheon, as well as the grandson of Matthew Maule.The introductory section, the first six chapters, does not live and breathe we are being told of previous events The chapters serve as the background to the story that is to unfold, the story set in the 1850s The author is our narrator, he interrupts, explains and voices his opinion on events He is philosophical he has a message to deliver He is longwinded The views expressed are at times difficult to get through perplexing, abstruse, wordy and overblown As the story picks up speed, humor, dialogs and lines of lyrical beauty make the prose lighter and easier to absorb Here follow three examples of lines I like and I love to watch how the day, tired as it is, lags away reluctantly, and hates to be called yesterday so soon the summer eve might be fancied as sprinkling dews and liquid moonlight which contrasts with the clamor of the wind through the lonely house Hawthorne has a knack for creating the feeling of a place, of the pervading atmosphere Humor revolves around the family s chickens and that child in love with gingerbread cookies I even found myself enjoying some of the shorter lines of philosophical bent A man s bewilderment is a measure of his wisdom Life is made up of marble and mud Nothing gives a sadder sense of decay, than this loss or suspension of the power to deal with unaccustomed things, and to keep up with the swiftness of the passing moment Ambition is apowerful talisman than witchcraft Very much a Gothic novel, a sense of gloom and disaster begins to permeate the tone of the novel A sense of impending doom builds, a doom tied to the relentless manner by which the wrongdoings of one generation inexorably shape the doings of the next It is this that is scary In Hawthorne s words The past is but a coarse and sensual prophecy of the present and the future What slaves we are to bygone times He asks Shall we never get rid of the past Then he remonstrates We are not doomed to creep on in the old ways Clearly, Hawthorne is saying we must break free from the past The question is if the characters will have the strength to do this It is this that the book asks.Many state that it is difficult to read Hawthorne s prose In parts it is wordy, but not in all It is for this reason, I have included quotes They are my proof I grew to like the prose style, when it lightens up a bit, once the story picks up, after the tedious start But then came the ending, which I absolutely detested It destroyed everything for me So damn gimmicky, so clash bang boom I d have to admit that many Gothic novels do end in such a manner, but I was mistakenly thinking wow, here is a great Gothic novel that exhibits discernment and intelligence Dear Hawthorne, it is not always necessary to end with a splash view spoiler Where the deed was hidden and that silly spring on the portrait and the need to clear Clifford s name and the rush to solve everything in a jiffy, to smack on a sweet and tidy ending, all of this hide spoiler made the whole book go down the drain for me I recommend it to nobody Read The Scarlet Letter instead The audiobook is superbly narrated by Anthony Heald I believe that a really good narrator can make difficult, abstruse prose intelligible IF you decide you do want to pick this up, I definitely recommend that you listen to it Be sure to listen to the audiobook narrated Anthony Heald.When I look back on this novel, I no longer understand how I could have liked it at all 4 stars for first read 3.5 for secondIn late September I toured the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts Our guide, a knowledgeable and entertainingly wry young man, spoke of two additions made to the house after the woman who bought it decided to turn it into a tourist attraction a room to emulate Hepzibah s little shop and a secret stairway not mentioned in the text that Clifford must ve used to be able to suddenly appear the way he does The latter intrigued me since I didn t 4 stars for first read 3.5 for secondIn late September I toured the House of the Seven Gables in Salem, Massachusetts Our guide, a knowledgeable and entertainingly wry young man, spoke of two additions made to the house after the woman who bought it decided to turn it into a tourist attraction a room to emulate Hepzibah s little shop and a secret stairway not mentioned in the text that Clifford must ve used to be able to suddenly appear the way he does The latter intrigued me since I didn t remember anything along those lines, so I decided upon a reread.As I got further into it, I realized only the beginning seemed familiar and I started to wonder if perhaps I hadn t finished the book that first time, though that didn t seem right either Perhaps it s just that the beginning, with its legend of the Pyncheons and the Maules, and then its description of poor Hepzibah setting up shop are still the most memorable scenes The middle is a lengthy setting the stage for a rather anticlimactic denouement, completed with perfunctory explanations, some of which is apparently known of due to mesmerism I understand why I remember liking itthe first time I read it, as at times I felt that same frisson of gothic ness I felt while reading We Have Always Lived in the Castle Our guide had mentioned he d read the book numerous times, adding in a hushed tone that it wasn t all that great, apologizing when I told him I d read it I think I also reread this to prove him wrong, but I m unable to do so The main feeling I ve come away with that Hawthorne struggled with inherited guilt due to the actions of his ancestor, a hanging judge presiding over the witch trials is what I discerned in that brilliant beginning And what of Clifford s mysterious appearances There s really only one, but it is an important one and a bit later there s the mention of another relative having had secret access to their uncle s room Curiosity satisfied.As I read my old paperback copy, the edges of both the front and back covers shed pieces My 1985 edition has a picture of the house on the front that cover seems to have been removed from Goodreads, though it was here not too long ago Last night, as I settled in to finish, the back cover fell completely off the spine And if I count in a certain way the spaces left behind from the triangles that fell from the front cover, they number seven The House of the Seven Gables begins with a preface by the author that identifies the work as a romance, not a novel That may be the author s preference, but I think most romance fans will be disappointed if they read this book The book is a classic by a famous American author, so it deserves to be read Once you finish the book and look over the complete plot, you can see how romantic love has healed a 200 year family curse Therefore, in that regard it is a romance However, the experience o The House of the Seven Gables begins with a preface by the author that identifies the work as a romance, not a novel That may be the author s preference, but I think most romance fans will be disappointed if they read this book The book is a classic by a famous American author, so it deserves to be read Once you finish the book and look over the complete plot, you can see how romantic love has healed a 200 year family curse Therefore, in that regard it is a romance However, the experience of reading the book islike wondering through a dreary haunted labyrinth I did not find it enjoyable to read I suppose the book can be considered a parable with a message aimed at the stiff necked 19th Century New England descendants of the Puritans They are a people who behave in proper ways, but have an ancestral history of executing their neighbors on trumped up charges of witchcraft They are haunted by a secret guilt of association because of the actions of their ancestors The story told by this book is about the Pyncheon family that parallels this New England story at large.The book s narrative comes as close as possible to being a ghost story while still remaining within the world of realism I can imagine that a reader who believes in ghosts can come away from this story with the impression that it is indeed about ghosts Likewise, another reader who doesn t believe in ghosts will say the story is about people who suspect that there may be ghosts in their lives who are intent on mischief Either way Nathaniel Hawthorne skillfully weaves a family story filled with angst.One feature of the book that surprised me was the role of Mesmerism today we call it hypnotism As described in this book it appears to be occult magic Likewise, a lot of the melancholia described in this book would today be called clinical depression Thank goodness for the character of Phoebe in the story Her young sunny disposition is a breath of fresh air into an otherwise dreary environment She s a reminder of the eternal possibility of renewal brought by young people to human society