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The House of the Seven Gables
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly (joselitohonestlyandbrilliantly) | 372 comments A clueless group here in made this this its book of the month read under the "Horror" genre when there is no horror in it. The author called it, instead, a "Romance" but there is no romance in it, either, except a brief declaration of love for each other of two protagonists towards the end with all its unmistakable phoniness ("How can you love a simple girl like me?" Duh, all men profess to love simple girls!).

This is actually a sex book written under the atmosphere of sexual repression during the mid 19th century.

There is this big, old house (with seven gables, of course) which has a dark past that can be traced back to a hundred or so years. Displayed inside is a portrait of the house's builder and original owner, Colonel Pyncheon. Its present occupants are a brother and a sister, both Pyncheons too, descendants of the Colonel, both decrepit and poor. The brother, Clifford, had apparently lost his marbles and acts, at times, like a child.

They have a border, occupying one of the house's seven gables, a young, good-looking artist. Later comes for a visit (and she eventually became a occupant) another Pyncheon, a cousin of the brother and sister. She's young and pretty. And what would a story be without a villain? So we have Judge Pyncheon, another cousin: rich, powerful and a look-alike of Colonel Pyncheon in the portrait and said to be as evil as the original.

Everything needed for gothic sex is here: a big, old gloomy "house"(which, in the dictionary, can mean a brothel), reminiscent of the castle in Marquis de Sade's "120 Days of Sodom"; an unattractive sex-starved character (the sister, a spinster, with a permanent scowl on her face and with a sado-masochistic name "Hepzibah"); one with an infantile taste for sex (the brother named Clifford, off in the head); the stud (the artist/border, Holgrave), a permanent fixture in all porn films; a nubile object of delectation and ready for corruption (the young lady from the country who first came for a visit and with the equally-nubile name "Phoebe"); and a villain (Judge Pyncheon).

The first sex scene (symbolically only; remember this was in the 19th century when the Philippines was still firmly under Spanish rule) is where Hepzibah opened up her small store to earn her upkeep, like she is opening her legs for the first time in her life after she is forced to earn money by prostitution. Her first customer is the stud/artist. He asks her if he can assist her any further in her preparation. When Hepzibah--

"saw the young man's smile--looking so much the brighter on a thoughtful face--and heard his kindly tone, she broke first into a hysteric giggle and then began to sob.
"'Ah, Mr. Holgrave,' cried she, as soon as she could speak, 'I never can go through with it! Never, never, never! I wish I were dead, and in the old family tomb, with all my forefathers! With my father, and my mother, and my sister! Yes, and with my brother, who had far better find me there than here! The world is too chill and hard--and I am too old, and too feeble, and too hopeless!'"

The stud, Holgrave, however gives her words of encouragement:

"'Oh, believe me, Miss Hepzibah, these feelings will not trouble you any longer, after you are once fairly in the midst of your enterprise. They are unavoidable at this moment, standing, as you do, on the outer verge of your long seclusion, and peopling the world with ugly shapes, which you will soon find to be as unreal as the giants and ogres of a child's storybook. I find nothing so singular in life as that everything appears to lose its substance the instant one actually grapples with it. So it will be with what you think so terrible.'"

The exchange then continues:

"'But I am a woman!' said Hepzibah, piteously. 'I was going to say a lady, but I consider that as past.'
"'Well, no matter if it be past!' answered the artist, a strange gleam of half-hidden sarcasm flashing through the kindliness of his manner. 'Let it go! You are the better without it....'"

For Clifford, the retard, nothing is more beautiful than Phoebe--

"He took unfailing note of every charm that appertained to her sex, and saw the ripeness of her lips, and the virginal development of her bosom."

But since he is such a child, all he can do is to touch her flower and smell it--

"His feeling for flowers was very exquisite, and seemed not so much a taste as an emotion; he was fond of sitting with one in his hand, intently observing it, and looking from its petals into Phoebe's face, as if the garden flower were the sister of the household maiden. Not merely was there a delight in the flower's perfume, or pleasure in its beautiful form, and the delicacy or brightness of his hue..."

With Phoebe by his side his little weapon comes alive--

"now with the lesson thoroughly by heart, he could with difficulty comprehend his little airy happiness. Frequently, there was a dim shadow of doubt in his eyes. 'Take my hand, Phoebe,' he would say, 'and pinch it hard with your little fingers! Give me a rose, that I may press it thorns, and prove myself awake by the sharp touch of pain!' Evidently, he desired this PRICK of a trifling anguish..."

What about the villain Judge Pyncheon? Here he is compared with the long dead Colonel Pyncheon and the clear implication is that both were as debauch and cruel as any of Marquis de Sade's sick "heroes":

"The Puritan (Colonel Pyncheon), again, an autocrat in his own household, had worn out three wives, and, merely by remorseless weight and hardness of his character in the conjugal relation, had sent them, one after another, brokenhearted, to their graves. ...The Judge had wedded but a single wife, and lost her in the third or fourth year of their marriage. There was a fable, however--for such we choose to consider it, though not impossibly typical of Judge Pynchon's marital deportment--that the lady got her death blow in the honeymoon, and never smiled again, because her husband compelled her to serve him with coffee every morning at his bedside, in token of fealty to her liege lord and master."

What is this, what is this "serving him WITH coffee every morning at his bedside" like he was her liege lord and master and which was so gross as to be the equivalent of a DEATH BLOW? My lascivious readers, your guess is absolutely correct! What could be more debasing than forcing your wife to give you a blowjob in the morning while she drinks her coffee?

Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly (joselitohonestlyandbrilliantly) | 372 comments I read your review and it is indeed a defensible interpretation of this novel. Good job!

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