Nathaniel Hawthorne's masterpiece, an iconic fable of guilt and redemption set in Puritan Massachusetts, has long been considered one of the greatest American novels.
The story of Hester Prynne found out in adultery, pilloried by her Puritan community, and abandoned, in different ways, by both her partner in sin and her vengeance-seeking husband possesses a reality heightened by Hawthorne's sympathy and his unmixed devotion to his supposedly fallen but fundamentally innocent heroine. "The Scarlet Letter" rightly deserves its stature as the first great novel written by an American, a work of moral force and narrative power that announced a literature equal to any in the world.
About the Author
Nathaniel Hawthorne s (1804 1864) ability to weave worlds of plaintive beauty is somewhat at odds with his family background. His ancestry, which stems back to the Salem witch trials of 1692, contains a bloody, judgmental history used to dramatic effect in his novels and short stories. For Hawthorne, the sins of the father being passed on through subsequent generations was a haunting image, which he believed shadowed his own family.
"[Nathaniel Hawthorne] recaptured, for his New England, the essence of Greek tragedy." --Malcolm Cowley