Nathaniel Hawthorne has been of my favourite writers since my schooldays. His short stories are a great source of inspiration for writers and readers alike. The simplicity in his style combined with the uniqueness in his voice makes him a remembered writer even today. ‘The Scarlet Letter’ published in 1850 was a highly acclaimed work of his along with several others like ‘The House of the Seven gables’.
The dark romanticism evident in his works attracts a lot of varied readers. So, I chose to read ‘The House of the Seven gables’ as my second book for the RIP VI reading challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.
The story revolves around a mansion that was built after a prosperous landowner Pyncheon kills Matthew Maule, the resident at a piece of land which captures his fancy. The owner too dies mysteriously on the opening day of the mansion and people conclude that the place is cursed with Maule’s blood. Then the prosperity of the mansion slowly dies out and Hepzibah Pyncheon, the cousin of a Pyncheon descendant lives alone an old maid. The rest of the story takes shape along the lines of romance with a tinge of darkness always in the background.
I always look out for Hawthorne’s signature extracts which delight and astonish at the same time.
“We read in Dead Men’s books! We laugh at Dead Men’s jokes, and cry at Dead Men’s pathos! . . . Whatever we seek to do, of our own free motion, a Dead Man’s icy hand obstructs us!”
Hawthorne always has a good balance of morbid thoughts and very wise observations of life. It is this aspect of his writing that I really love and admire.
“…Life is made of marble and mud”
This is especially one of my favourite lines from the book:
“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”
I was balled out by this line and it kept me thinking about its truth for a long time. Nothing in life is so horrific or great after one has had an encounter with it. These observations make Hawthorne’s books a very valuable read.
His marginally political comments are also equally exceptional. This is one such line that kept me nodding for far too long than necessary.
“These names of gentleman and lady had a meaning, in the past history of the world, and conferred privileges, desirable or otherwise, on those entitled to bear them. In the present- and still more in the future condition of society- they imply privilege, but restriction”
The eerieness that flows with the story also satisfied my craving for the Ghoulish. On the whole, I really enjoyed another of Hawthorne’s genius creation.