The House of the Seven Gables (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

The House of the Seven Gables (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Greed, treachery, mesmerism, and murder are just some of the bricks Hawthorne uses to build The House of the Seven Gables. Generations before the present story begins, wealthy Colonel Pyncheon covets Matthew Maule’s land. When Maule is hanged for witchcraft, he puts a curse on the Colonel—and all his descendants. Now the menacing Judge Pyncheon continues the family tradition of hiding cruelty under a dazzling smile, while his scowling niece, Hepzibah, and half-mad nephew, Clifford, are reduced to poverty by his machinations. But the younger generation, embodied in their distant cousin, Phoebe, becomes a ray of hope penetrating the dark house.

Though Hawthorne openly discusses his book’s “moral” in its preface, The House of the Seven Gables is no dry sermon. In fact, a strong stream of poetic fantasy runs through it, which the author acknowledges by calling it a “romance,” rather than a novel. Like his other great works, The House of the Seven Gables reflects Hawthorne’s rich understanding of complex motives, of individuals caught in the unending struggle between our highest aspirations and our basest desires.

Gordon Tapper, Associate Professor of English at DePauw University, is the author of The Machine That Sings: Modernism, Hart Crane, and the Culture of the Body. He also wrote the Introduction and Notes to the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of Willa Cather’s My Ántonia.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593082314
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 02/01/2007
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 607
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.84(d)

About the Author

One of the greatest authors in American literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was a novelist and short story writer born in Salem, Massachusetts. Hawthorne’s best-known books include The House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter, works marked by a psychological depth and moral insight seldom equaled by other writers.

Date of Birth:

July 4, 1804

Date of Death:

May 19, 1864

Place of Birth:

Salem, Massachusetts

Place of Death:

Plymouth, New Hampshire


Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, 1824

Read an Excerpt

From Gordon Tapper’s Introduction to The House of the Seven Gables

Secrecy, history, crime, and retribution: These subjects fascinated Nathaniel Hawthorne from the very beginning of his career, and they merged with particular force in his third novel, The House of the Seven Gables, which Hawthorne wrote during 1850 and 1851 while enjoying his first flush of celebrity as the acclaimed author of the recently published The Scarlet Letter (1850). Hawthorne was at this time forty-six years old, with more than two decades of writing behind him, having produced close to one hundred meticulously crafted works of short fiction, many of which grapple with the nature of evil, the reverberations of the past, and the psychological ramifications of sin. And yet, despite this impressive output, Hawthorne was exasperated with how long it had taken him to achieve literary fame. “How slowly I have made my way in life!” (quoted in Mellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times, p. 367; see “For Further Reading”) he complained shortly before Seven Gables appeared in April 1851. In part, however, this delay in public recognition was self-imposed, a result of Hawthorne’s congenital reserve. He had in fact begun his career at the auspicious age of twenty-four, when in 1828 he published Fanshawe, though he was so dissatisfied with this derivative novel that he did his best to suppress it. More significant, however, were the stories he began placing in periodicals in 1830, yet all of these early works were published anonymously, and it was not until the 1837 appearance of Twice-Told Tales, his first collection of stories, that Hawthorne was identified as author of any of his texts. Although unsigned publication was fairly common during this period, Hawthorne was more reluctant than most writers to bring this anonymity to an end. Moreover, just as he concealed his name from the public, his fiction is pervaded with secrets and unresolved ambiguities. In his disturbing tale “The Minister’s Black Veil,” for instance, the mysterious veil worn so stubbornly by the protagonist is, on one level, a fictional echo of the psychological barrier that Hawthorne himself was loathe to remove. After his death in 1864, even his wife Sophia declared that “to the last he was in a measure to me a divine Mystery, for he was so to himself” (quoted in Wineapple, Hawthorne: A Life, p. 380).
Born into a family that traced its lineage to the Puritan settlements of New England during the 1630s, Hawthorne was imbued from a very early age with what he termed “a home-feeling with the past” (“The Custom House,” p. 7). This pronounced historical consciousness merged in Hawthorne’s writing with an attraction toward the shadowy recesses of human nature. Herman Melville—with whom Hawthorne developed a remarkable friendship during the 1850s—identified this strain in his fellow writer’s work as a “great power of blackness” (Pierre, Israel Potter, The Piazza Tales, The Confidence-Man, Uncollected Prose, Billy Budd, p. 1159), a faculty that Melville attributed to Hawthorne’s preoccupation with the Calvinistic theology of his Puritan ancestors, with its unforgiving emphasis on the doctrines of innate depravity and original sin. Hawthorne was, however, deeply ambivalent about the legacy of Puritanism. On the one hand, his fiction reproduces the rigorous inspection of conscience so central to Puritan theology, yet it also often satirizes the ideological intolerance and class inequities that Puritanism helped spawn in the United States. This divided view of Puritanism and its foundational role in shaping the national culture are precisely what lend Hawthorne’s fiction much of its depth and complexity.
Hawthorne’s obsession with the nation’s colonial origins was inextricable from his equally intense absorption with his family heritage. As he puts it in his journal, “the spirit of my Puritan ancestors was mighty in me” (quoted in Wineapple, 231). The first of these ancestors to emigrate from England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony was William Hathorne, who arrived in Salem in 1636 and played a prominent role in colonial politics, serving as selectman and speaker of the House of Delegates. This forefather was especially admired by his descendants for his indomitable will, which was epitomized by his defiance of King Charles II’s command to return to England in order to answer for colonial disobedience. As Hawthorne confides in his autobiographical essay “The Custom House,” written just one year before he composed The House of the Seven Gables, this ancestral figure was “invested by family tradition with a dim and dusky grandeur . . . present to my boyish imagination, as far back as I can remember” (p. 6). Yet if this patriarch stirred the imagination of the young writer-to-be, he also filled Hawthorne with shame for the less noble acts recorded in colonial annals, such as his persecution of the Quakers, which included commanding that a woman be publicly whipped as punishment for her religious nonconformism. Hawthorne was both intrigued and troubled by the fact that this “persecuting spirit” (“The Custom House,” p. 7) re-emerged in the next generation through the actions of Colonel John Hathorne, who earned notoriety as one of the judges presiding over the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, which involved the prosecution of hundreds and the execution of twenty individuals. For Hawthorne, this recurring impulse to victimize others was disturbing, not only because it compounded his sense of inherited guilt, but also because it suggested that the propensity to sin is transmitted across generations just as surely as physical traits. In Seven Gables, he explores more thoroughly than anywhere else in his fiction the chilling possibility that evil is historically determined, the consequence of an inescapable family legacy.
Not surprisingly, Hawthorne responded to his family’s role in national history with a contradictory mixture of reverence and revulsion, and this deeply felt engagement with the past led him to become what Michael Colacurcio has called a “moral historian” (The Province of Piety, p. 13) of American culture.

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The House of the Seven Gables Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
AnakinFanatic More than 1 year ago
One of Hawthorne's best works. It explains through fiction, what Hawthorne truly believed of the Salem Witch Trials.
MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What can I say? I thought this book was a great Gothic novel that was very apposite for a Halloween read. One thing that contributed to this being a wonderful reading experience for me is now that I¿m finished with the 999 challenge I really treasured the leisurely pace of the story and the long, lush sentences. I loved the way the characters were revealed bit by bit, often with little homilies on their quirks. For those who are looking for a fast paced thriller with twists and turns in the plot this is not the book to choose. If you enjoy stories that are built on atmosphere and character with some philosophy thrown in for good measure I recommend this as a fine example of that type of novel. I also have to admit, that sometimes I suspected that Hawthorn was writing with a little ¿tongue in cheek¿ attitude toward the reader and having a sly laugh on us¿or perhaps inviting us to laugh with him.
SandSing7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pales in comparison with Hawthorne's masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter; however, if you're familiar with The Scarlet Letter, it is interesting to see how certain themes and symbols interact between the texts, especially Hawthorne's fascination/repulsion with his Puritan past.
kant1066 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This review contains spoilers.I have a vague memory of reading ¿The Scarlet Letter¿ sometime in middle school, and coming away feeling like you would expect after you¿d read a novel about Puritan repression (that¿s all I thought it was about at the time). ¿The House of the Seven Gables¿ was like finding a Hawthorne I¿d never known before ¿ one of ghosts, the eternal return of historical memory, and high Gothic romance. This time, it reminded me more of Horace Walpole and Matthew Lewis than it did the cold Puritanism that I once associated with Hester Prynne. In this sense, it stood up to what Hawthorne identified most of his longer fiction as, that is, ¿romance.¿ In the late seventeenth century, the eponymous house (actually inspired by an historical 1688 colonial mansion in Salem) served as the residence of Colonel Pyncheon, who once accused a man named Matthew Maule of sorcery in order to have him hanged, and then stole the land upon which he would eventually build his house. One day, the Colonel keels over at his desk under mysterious circumstances, but his presence and his nefariousness seem to haunt the Pyncheon house in various ways.Several generations later, Hepzibah and her intellectually challenged brother Clifford come to occupy the house. They are both descendants of the Colonel, but now the family fortune and good reputation have withered away so much that Hepzibah has to open a store in her house to make some extra money, and thinks herself an abject failure because of it. Holgrave, a daguerrotypist, rents a room from Hepzibah upstairs. One day, a distant relation to both Clifford and Hepzibah named Phoebe Pyncheon visits and manages to quickly change the whole tenor of the house: she is able to bring vim and vigor to the Hepzibah¿s failing penny shop, and she gives Clifford the companionship and attention that he needs. Just as soon as she appears, however, she leaves again and the house falls into its former dilapidated state.Judge Pyncheon, another member of the family and a wealthy man about town with an eminent reputation, appears at Hepzibah¿s house and announces that he wants to institutionalize Clifford. The Judge claims that Clifford knows the whereabouts of certain documents that will allow him access to vast tracts of land in Maine. While waiting to talk to Clifford, the Judge dies in much the same way that the Colonel did so many generations before. Hepzibah and Clifford head to a train station to leave their outre circumstances. Later, Phoebe returns to the house with only the artist Holgrave in residence, and he admits how he has (admittedly, somewhat predictably) always loved her. Hepzibah and Clifford soon return to live there, with Phoebe having inherited all of the Judge¿s ill-gotten land. Holgrave proclaims that he is himself a distant relative of Matthew Maule, so long ago accused of conjury. The House of Seven Gables, so long riven by tumult and strife, is finally exorcised by that ultimate mage, love. I read this mostly as a meditation on the transgressions of history and our inevitable tendency to bear them witness no matter how far removed in time we are from them, two of Hawthorne¿s pet concerns. Indeed, it¿s interesting how the sins of Colonel Pyncheon seem almost to take place in a prelapsarian past while at the same time having such a profound effect on the characters presently at hand. Hawthorne wonderfully blends the oppressiveness of the past with the stark newness of the present throughout the novel: the figures of the Salem witch trials (one of whom was Judge John Hathorne, Nathaniel¿s great-great-grandfather, who found many of the ¿witches¿ guilty) haunt the novel in spirit, but so do all kinds of (then) modern technologies, from Holgrave¿s daguerreotype, to the train that Hepzibah and Clifford use to escape the ghosts of their pasts. Published in 1851 and with the possibility of freedom from the past being central to the novel, Hawthorne might have meant for
lindseyrivers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read somewhere that trying to read Hawthorne is like trying to run through mud. This book is no exception. I couldn't get through two pages without falling asleep, and I NEVER fall asleep while reading. Absolutely nothing but character development happened until the last three chapters... and most of the character's weren't worth that much development. Some may be a fan of his fantastic use of words to paint a picture, and while I agree it is fantastic, it is also boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book, House of Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne tried to connect the past to the present, using generations of family. Back in the colonial era, a Colonel Pyncheon slayed a supposed wizard named Matthew Maule. Pyncheon bought the land and died suspiciously with bloody-hand print on his neck. The story then fast-forwards 3 generations, to a women named Hepzibah Pyncheon. She lived alone in the massive house, except for a tenant named Holgrave. Hepzibah is a lonely old woman, with no friends except Mr. Holgrave. Because of her vision problems, she scowls and everybody has mistaken her for a mean, grumpy lady. In her little store, she spots her cousin Judge Jeffrey Pyncheon, who is blamed for Clifford’s murderous accusation. A relative of theirs, Pheobe Pyncheon arrives that night, staying in the House. Both men, Clifford and Judge Jeffrey fall in love with Phoebe, causing another huge conflict. As Jeffrey tries to kiss Phoebe, things heat up once again between the families. With things getting out of hand, Holgrave decides to write a book about the family. Judge Jeffrey dies from a stroke suddenly, with the town assuming it with Clifford once again, and not knowing what to do, Clifford retreats into the house. I rated this book 3 out of 5, because of the confusing order. In the beginning, it goes back and forth from the colonial era to the present (late 1800’s to early 1900’s). Every now and then, it switches focus from each person, from the Colonel to Mr. Holgrave. Even though it might be confusing at first, once you get into the book, it is hard to put down. The reading goes by fast and the book hooks you. Overall, the book was an okay book, but if you like history and romantic books, you’ll love The House Of Seven Gables.
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Yes another book. : )
Guest More than 1 year ago
BORING...This book was very slow! I did not enjoy it and had a hard time finishing. It is a well written classic, just not my favorite.
maryelena More than 1 year ago
LIked the music.