Introduction by Kathryn Harrison
Commentary by Nathaniel Hawthorne, W. D. Howells, and Carl Van Doren
A stark tale of adultery, guilt, and social repression in Puritan New England, "The Scarlet Letter" is a foundational work of American literature. Nathaniel Hawthorne's exploration of the dichotomy between the public and private self, internal passion and external convention, gives us the unforgettable Hester Prynne, who discovers strength in the face of ostracism and emerges as a heroine ahead of her time. As Kathryn Harrison points out in her Introduction, Hester is the herald of the modern heroine.
Includes a Modern Library Reading Group Guide.
About the Author
Born in 1804, Nathaniel Hawthorne is known for his historical tales and novels about American colonial society. After publishing The Scarlet Letter in 1850, its status as an instant bestseller allowed him to earn a living as a novelist. Full of dark romanticism, psychological complexity, symbolism, and cautionary tales, his work is still popular today. He has earned a place in history as one of the most distinguished American writers of the nineteenth century.
Kathryn Harrison is a graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writer's Workshop. She is the author of the novels The Binding Chair, Thicker Than Water, Exposure, and Poison. She has also written a memoir, The Kiss. Her personal essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and other publications. She lives in New York with her husband, the novelist Colin Harrison, and their children.
"[Nathaniel Hawthorne] recaptured, for his New England, the essence of Greek tragedy." --Malcolm Cowley