The House of the Seven Gables (Norton Critical)

The House of the Seven Gables (Norton Critical)

by WW Norton $ 19.99

A gloomy New England mansion provides the setting for this classic exploration of ancestral guilt and its expiation through the love and goodwill of succeeding generations.
Nathaniel Hawthorne drew inspiration for this story of an immorally obtained property from the role his forebears played in the 17th-century Salem witch trials. Built over an unquiet grave, the House of the Seven Gables carries a dying man's curse that blights the lives of its residents for over two centuries. Now Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon, an iron-hearted hypocrite and intellectual heir to the mansion's unscrupulous founder, is attempting to railroad a pair of his elderly relatives out of the house. Only two young people stand in his way — a visiting country cousin and an enigmatic boarder skilled in mesmerism.

"Contexts" brings together a generous selection of primary materials intended to provide readers with background on the novel's central themes. Historical documents include accounts of Salem's history by Thomas Maule, Robert Calef, Joseph B. Felt, and Charles W. Upham, which Hawthorne drew on for The House of the Seven Gables. The importance of the house in antebellum America--as a manifestation of the body, a site of genealogical history, and a symbol of the republic's middle class--is explored through the diverse writings of William Andrus Alcott, Edgar Allan Poe, and J. H. Agnew, among others. The impact of technological developments on the novel, especially of daguerreotypy, is considered through the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gustave de Beaumont, and Alexis de Tocqueville, among others. Also included are two of Hawthorne's literary sketches--"Alice Doane's Appeal" and "The Old Apple Dealer"--that demonstrate the continuity of Hawthorne's style, from his earlier periodical writing to his later career as a novelist.

"Criticism" provides a comprehensive overview of the critical commentary on the novel from its publication to the present. Among the twenty-seven critics represented are Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry James, Nina Baym, Eric Sundquist, Richard H. Millington, Alan Trachtenberg, Amy Schrager Lang, and Christopher Castiglia.

A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included.

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