Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The House of the Seven Gables - ( Item 124369 )
Published in London by Folio Society. 2012. First Thus. Fine Hardback. No inscriptions or bookplates. Fine slipcase. Introduced by Brenda Wineapple. Illustrated by Francis Mosley. Bound in cambric grain paper, blocked with a design by Francis Mosley. Set in Adobe Garamond. 304 pages. Frontispiece and 8 colour illustrations. Book size: 9" × 6¼". 'God will give him blood to drink!' A noose about his neck, the 'wizard' Matthew Maule curses his enemy with his dying breath. So begins Nathaniel Hawthorne's suspenseful gothic romance, a story that explores the legacy of guilt, the folly of greed and land-lust, the unreliability of memory and the elusive influence of the past on the present. Like his earlier novel, The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables reflects Hawthorne's ambivalence towards the confident ideals of the New England Puritans. By birth, he was accustomed to their vision of America as a 'New Jerusalem' – one of his ancestors was a judge in the Salem witch trials of 1692. But this also made him wary of Puritan shibboleths, from the danger of rigid social mores to the potentially catastrophic fusion of religious fervour, isolationism and fear. In The House of the Seven Gables, an accusation of malign magic precipitates two hundred years of misfortune. Disposing of his rival for land by prompting his execution, Colonel Pyncheon builds a 'great house', but bequeaths his descendants a moral stain that is renewed in murder and deceit. It is often said that the novel's central character – depicted with great poignancy – is the family's crumbling abode: 'It was both sad and sweet to observe how Nature adopted to herself this desolate, decaying, gusty, rusty, old house… and how the ever-returning Summer did her best to gladden it with tender beauty, and grew melancholy in the effort.' Even when love redeems the burden of sin, the house, 'like a great human heart', lives on stoically as a monument to the tragedies of the past. In her introduction to this edition, award-winning Hawthorne biographer Brenda Wineapple notes the novel's rapturous reception in England, its impact reportedly matching that of Jane Eyre. We commissioned Francis Mosley to illustrate our edition because of his narrative style and gothic sensibility. His etchings fully capture the suspense and emotional intensity of the story.
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