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 Salem, Massachusetts, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) is one of America's greatest writers. His classic novels include The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, both in the dark romanticism genre, with moral messages and a Puritan influence. He also wrote short stories and non-fiction. Hawthorne, who spent significant parts of his life in The Berkshires and Concord, Massachusetts, was born with the surname Hathorne. He added the "w" to distance himself from his great-great-grandfather John Hathorne, the unrepentant Salem magistrate and chief interrogator of the accused witches during the Salem witch hysteria of 1692.
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