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Try and appreciate ol’ Nate

March 31, 2017

 

DILLON

Dillon Nelson
Staff Reporter | djn005@latech.edu

 

read Nathaniel Hawthorne`s first book, “The Scarlet Letter,” all the way through my freshman year of college. The powerful verbosity and strong symbolism of the tale of Hester Prynne, Pearl and Dimmesdale made me want to read more of this author I had regrettably given up on in high school.

 

To others who had to read it in high school and have bad memories of it: I can attest that he gets much better as an adult. His Puritan style was stuffy and dry to me in high school, but when I read “The Scarlet Letter” a couple of years ago, the intensity and beauty of the language really resonated with me.

 

Along with several of his short stories, I have finished two of his novels and parts of the others since then. Though Hawthorne can carry on forever sometimes, his prose becomes enchanting at times and his symbolism is consistently well-used.

 

With “House of the Seven Gables,” his second novel, Hawthorne uses a slower pace to generate an effectively creepy Gothic gem of a novel. The difficulty level of the writing may turn some off, but lovers of challenging literature will enjoy it. I can see why is sometimes used in high school and college like “The Scarlet Letter.”

 

The bloody legend of the cursed Pyncheon family is delightfully denoted in a sort antiquated, fairytale language that is as just as lovely as the language of “The Scarlet Letter.” Though it is a bit slower than its predecessor, readers who enjoy lofty language and light horror elements will enjoy Hawthorne’s way with words in this novel. 

 

With “The Blithedale Romance,” Hawthorne seems to have found a balance somewhere between the heightened, pontificating style of “House of the Seven Gables” and the more substantial narrative leanings of “The Scarlet Letter.”

 

“The Blithedale Romance” is often overlooked but it is the most mainstream novel by Hawthorne. This story about a complicated love quadrangle is oddly romantic, light and beautifully written and is much more easily enjoyable and less intense.

 

Having read enough of his work, I would say the best way to read Hawthorne is to enjoy his works for their eloquent prose as much as you can. Reading his short stories is certainly a great way to get accustomed to his writing because they are easily enjoyable and well-written. They will prime you for his longer, more substantial novels.

 

Ultimately, his penchant for style over substance will come down to a matter of personal taste and you still may not enjoy him after giving him another chance. However, I feel as though his works are way better than people give him credit for due to their previous perception of him from high school. If you are one of those people, give his work another chance please. Your idea of good literature might have changed since then.

 

Dillon Nelson is a senior English literature and communications major from West Monroe who serves as a staff reporter for The Tech Talk.

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