One of the most important novels in classic literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter tackles the subject of adultery, with the notorious Hester Prynne at the forefront of the scandal in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the beginning of the novel, Hester is serving time in prison for having a child out of wedlock and is forced to wear a scarlet A on her clothing at all times, so she cannot run from her sin no matter where she goes. Her husband has been away for around two years, and she refuses to name the father of her daughter, Pearl. The father is actually Reverend Dimmesdale, a timid man who keeps his secret from the community.
Hester's husband returns to the colony, where he finds out what has happened and makes it his personal goal to torment the father of Pearl. He discovers that it is Dimmesdale and tries to intimidate him. The pressure becomes too much for Dimmesdale, and after seven years of torture the reverend eventually admits what he has done and dies before a crowd of people. Not long after, Hester's husband also passes away, leaving Hester and her daughter enough money to escape the colony and finally have some peace. At the end, however, Hester decides to come back to the colony, and when she passes away, she is buried next to the reverend, with whom she had been in love.
Public Domain (P)2015 A.R.N. Publications
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"'Thou Wast Not Bold! Thou Wast Not True!'"
This faithful audio version of Hawthorne's timeless classic is by far the best available; Kate Petrie is an excellent narrator and does admirable justice to the novel's gorgeously wrought prose, somber tone and yet hopeful spirit. My only qualms in recommending it as a 5-star performance across the board are minor quibbles with the production (why does the three-minute introduction come at the END of the book?) and the editing (on at least one occasion, Petrie reads the same line twice), although I must admit these to be very minor flaws indeed in a recording so otherwise seamless as to give the impression that the narrator never ceased reading for one moment to draw a deep breath, much less ever stopped for several minutes together to drink a glass of water or stretch her legs.
The English teacher in me must give one final word of warning to the educated, word-loving listener: Just know in advance that there will be a few mispronunciations of individual words, so you won't be unduly startled and dismayed when you hear them. Some may be British pronunciations, but most are clearly actual errors, often of the sort where a syllable is added or deleted. These errors include "GREE-vee-us"/grievous; "con-TIDJ-you-us"/contiguous; "INK-witty"/iniquity; "Er-RUDE-it"/erudite; "uh-TRIB-yutes"/attributes (as in, the attributes of the wearer of the scarlet letter); "ig-NOM-uh-nee"/ignominy; "miss-CHEE-vee-us"/mischievous; "scorge"/scourge; "PURR-pert"/purport; and, perhaps most dismaying, "DIM-mizz-dale"/Dimmesdale.
But don't let that stop you from using a credit on this gorgeous page-turner. Hawthorne, the most anti-religionist of the American Romantics, a man who was haunted and obsessed by the subject of dubious Puritan "morality" due to his ancestor's pivotal and horrific role in the Salem Witch trials, here weaves such a spellbinding and suspenseful tale that it can't possibly be tarnished by a few minor mispronunciations.
Thank you, thank you, Audible, for this thoroughly engrossing, lovingly embroidered audio experience of one of the finest works of American literature. Grade: scarlet A-plus.
"Interesting and Great For Literary Examination"
The story is very wealthy in literary themes and would be fairly easy to write essays on. The Narrator is pleasant and portrays several voices very well. The story is interesting and also not too terribly long. My only distaste is Hawthorne's "try-hard" diction and excessive flowering in scene description.
"For the Narrator"
Fantastic voices for the different characters. especially pearl. made me be able to imagine a little girl right at her mother's feet and begging her for something.
"lovely story and telling"
A crime of adultery and such an excavation of the affected souls that Dostoevsky might have been inspired. The narrator's lovely voice burnishes the narration and brings to life the characters.
A puritanical novel written in the most construed, convoluted language of the time which for me casts this work as an irrelevant antique
There is nothing in the plot that pulls the novel out of its mediocrity and historical relevance
"A predictable story, very like any Thomas Hardy story."
There's a short and concise summary to the story, intended as an introduction, right at the very end of the recording. Damn I wish I had started with that instead of suffering through the entire book.
Full marks to Kate Petrie who diligently articulated sentences that lasted entire minutes and managed to give each character something distinguishing but there was nothing to do about the book, I'm afraid. It was obvious from the start who her baby's father was and the way he and the husband met their respective ends was utterly predictable.
I wonder if the modern age has hardened me to such behaviour? Would a reader 100, 150 years ago have been any more shocked by it all?
The book itself was very wordy. But was nevertheless enjoyable. A book of its time.
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