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Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne


Image result for demi moore the scarlet letter
Demi Moore played Hester Pyrnne in the famously terrible 1995 movie version of The Scarlet Letter.
The Scarlet Letter (1850)
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

  The Scarlet Letter is another fun read from high school English class.   Published in 1850, it is, I think, the first published American novel still widely read. The Last of the Mohicans was published two decades earlier, but I don't think people really read that book anymore. The Last of the Mohicans is also too long to be read in the context of a modern high school schedule, and The Scarlet Letter has almost the perfect length to be read in full by a high school student.

   Listening to the audiobook this time around, I was struck by at just how very dark The Scarlet Letter is.  It's one thing to know that the language is "darkly romantic," another to actually hear the language spoken aloud.  Were it not for the Puritan wilderness location, you could call The Scarlet Letter gothic. And even if The Scarlet Letter isn't technically gothic, you could forgiven for describing it that way.

   Honestly, it's hard to find much of the dialogue comical when heard aloud.  Again, I was struck that listening to The Scarlet Letter instead of reading it raised the possibility of a satirical element that I totally missed reading it in school.  Googling satire in The Scarlet Letter brings up a wide range of sources, so that's one point against high school me.  Like I said, hearing it, the humorous/satirical intent is apparent. 

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