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Books Read In 2019 > The Scarlet Letter - Non-Spoilers

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message 1: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
Please use this thread for first impressions (non-spoilers), background and general information.


message 2: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1160 comments I have read this book three times and discovered something new on each reading.


message 3: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "I have read this book three times and discovered something new on each reading."

I've only read it once, within the past three years and although I did enjoy it, I don't think I would ever consider re-reading it. Nathaniel Hawthorne has a tendency to get very wordy and to me, that translates into slightly dull and boring. It took a lot for me to power through the book.


message 4: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (traceyrb) I have just read it again for the second time and I enjoyed it more and as Rosemarie said, I got more from it. I skipped the introduction which I found wordy and boring. I listened to it on audio and that made it better the second time I think. I will jump in on the discussion with the group.


Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 275 comments I've missed this one somehow in my reading career up to this point, so I plan on giving it a try, though I haven't really cared much for what I've read of Hawthorne up to this point.


message 6: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
Many Goodread members who've read the book all say the same thing. The introduction has absolutely nothing to do with story and skipping it will make your enjoyment of the book that much more. 😌 Needless to say, I skipped it and ended up giving the book four stars.


message 7: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
I'm really perplexed. Where are the 18 members who voted for this book? Are the members who voted for this book reading it???? I'm just curious because no one, with the exception of Tracey, who by the way, nominated the book, Rosemarie, and myself have read it before. Bryan. I commend you for possibly giving the book a try, considering you didn't even vote for it. I know member Jessica is reading the book. Jessica? Would you like to start up the discussion?


message 8: by Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (last edited Apr 07, 2019 05:42PM) (new)

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 275 comments I won't be home to start this till next week sometime. I feel pretty confident that I'll read it though--I've been avoiding it too long.


message 9: by John (new)

John I plan on reading this one once I finish The Invisible Man.

I have a copy of The Scarlet Letter in my office at work. I'm not sure why. It's been here for 12 years.


message 10: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1160 comments That is really odd, John.


message 11: by John (new)

John Rosemarie wrote: "That is really odd, John."

I think it's my wife's. But what I can't figure out is why I brought it to work...like I'm going to have time to read literature.


message 12: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1160 comments Maybe you were going to lend it to someone.
It is one of Hawthorne's shorter works. I read it for the first time in high school and then much later as an a adult. And then a third time as a book discussion leader in another group. I got something different out of it each time.


message 13: by Savita (new)

Savita Singh | 477 comments John wrote: "Rosemarie wrote: "That is really odd, John."

I think it's my wife's. But what I can't figure out is why I brought it to work...like I'm going to have time to read literature."

Quite a scene that would be 😁 ! Your secretary walks in with a sheaf of important papers , that have to be urgently signed . You hold up your hand and say , " Sorry ! I've reached the last paragraph of page 2, and I simply can't put down the book at this stage ! I'll sign another day ! " 😂


message 14: by Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (last edited Apr 25, 2019 09:49AM) (new)

Bryan--The Bee’s Knees (theindefatigablebertmcguinn) | 275 comments I have finally started on this--it's pretty short, so I think I'll be still be able to shoehorn this and The Heart of the Matter into April.

Anyway--I think I'm opposite of what some of the other posters have said--I read the introduction this morning, and while I can see how it doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the story, I thought it was droll and an interesting picture of time and place. It makes me want to read some of Hawthorne's shorter works, like Mosses from an Old Manse. The collection I have is the old Modern Library edition, with all his novels and almost forty of his shorter works, including selections from Manse, so I guess I'll get my chance.

His style is wordy, but maybe I'm at an age where I like that kind of slow unravelling rather than a quick-read. I really was hesitant to start this--I listened to an audio-version of The Blithedale Romance last year, and I did not care for it at all. Part of it was surely because of the narrator, which is always a risk in audio-books. I'd also read Young Goodman Browne in high school (too long ago to be much of a consideration any more), and, predictably, Hawthorne's writing wasn't exciting enough for me then.

The long and the short of it is that I may have been too quick to judge. I'm looking forward to reading the novel, but even if that is somewhat of a let-down (which is suspect, just because of how familiar the story is), I'm still looking forward to reading others of his.


message 15: by Rosemarie (new)

Rosemarie | 1160 comments I like his style too, Bryan. I think that The Scarlet Letter is a better work than A Blithdale Romance. It is certainly a more effective plot, with focussed writing and more consistent character development.


message 16: by Loretta, Moderator (new)

Loretta | 3971 comments Mod
Bryan wrote: "I have finally started on this--it's pretty short, so I think I'll be still be able to shoehorn this and The Heart of the Matter into April.

Anyway--I think I'm opposite of what some of the other..."


Glad you were able to power through the introduction Bryan and that you got something pleasurable out of it.

Although Hawthorne's writing style is a bit tedious and wordy, IMO, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though I was familiar with the story. That said, I have a sneaking suspicion that you'll be a fan as well! Enjoy!

Also, I hope you can fit The Heart of the Matter in as well because I'm sure that you'd enjoy it as well! If not, don't worry, threads stay open and I'm sure members, including myself will pop in and discuss the book with you!

Enjoy your reading Bryan!


message 17: by MK (last edited Apr 28, 2019 03:02PM) (new)

MK (wisny) | 32 comments Carrie wrote: "This is my 4th attempt of this classic. Yet again, I cannot get past the prologue as it is dense and burdensome. I am taking the advice above and skipping the introduction this time. Thanks!"

It is dense, burdensome, and almost entirely unrelated to the story that follows! Skip it! :D


message 18: by WhatIReallyRead (new)

WhatIReallyRead | 371 comments Loretta wrote: "I'm really perplexed. Where are the 18 members who voted for this book? Are the members who voted for this book reading it???? I'm just curious because no one, with the exception of Tracey, who by ..."
Perhaps the popularity of the book, not necessarily the intention of reading it this month, motivates some votes.

As for me, I wish everyone reading it a good time and envy guys you a little. I haven't read The Scarlett Letter, and plan to someday (it's on my "long-list"). Right now I'm focusing on the books I own, so I'll have to get to this one at a later time.


message 19: by John (new)

John MK wrote: "Carrie wrote: "This is my 4th attempt of this classic. Yet again, I cannot get past the prologue as it is dense and burdensome. I am taking the advice above and skipping the introduction this time...."

I agree that it is dense and burdensome. But I do think it provides, very subtly, a worthy introduction. I noticed how Hawthorn described his surroundings at the Customs House and his ancestors. It all seemed dull. He almost dwelt on the dullness and inactivity. We sometimes think of our pasts (as in time before our lives) as dull too. The story of Hester and Arthur though, while not action filled, is certainly not dull. We can see that in the "dull" past, and sometimes compared to our presents, there is possibly more earth-shaking events. The comparison, for me, made the main story itself more alive.

Plus in these gothic stories, there always seems to be a letter, or a story, or a painting, that serves to as a way to put the story into history instead of just being a disembodied story.


message 20: by MK (new)

MK (wisny) | 32 comments True, John.

It can always be read after, tho, if there's interest. I do that with a lot of introductions to classics. Although, usually those intros are later addons by other authors, but still ... I save them for after. Sometimes they're too spoilery, sometimes they're too obtuse, or ... dense or burdensome ;-) ... and make little sense unless you already know the story they're 'introducing'.

In the case of The Scarlet Letter, tho, I'd save it simply to remove the hurdle to reading the story! The story is much more accessible and interesting than the intro. I think many people never read the story because of how dry and awful (one opinion, lol) the intro is :D.


message 21: by John (new)

John MK wrote: "True, John.

It can always be read after, tho, if there's interest. I do that with a lot of introductions to classics. Although, usually those intros are later addons by other authors, but still ....."


I agree with you on introduction spoilers. I usually read them afterwards, especially if it's a novel. And yes, I would be upset if my recommendation to read the introduction made someone give up and not attempt the novel.


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