With an essay by D. H. Lawrence.'Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, - stern and wild ones, - and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss'Fiercely romantic and hugely influential, The Scarlet Letter is the tale of Hester Prynne, imprisoned, publicly shamed, and forced to wear a scarlet 'A' for committing adultery and bearing an illegitimate child, Pearl. In their small, Puritan village, Hester and her daughter struggle to survive, but in this searing study of the tension between private and public existence, Hester Prynne's inner strength and quiet dignity means she has frequently been seen as one of the first great heroines of American fiction.The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1804, into a family which had come to America with the first Puritan settlers. While still a boy, Hawthorne wrote to his mother that " I do not want to be a doctor and live by men's diseases ; nor a minister to live by their sins ; nor a lawyer and live by their quarrels. So I don't see there is anything left for me but to be an author.' After college, Hawthorne returned to Salem and wrote stories, including some for children, and a novel, but he did not achieve success quickly. For a time he worked in the Boston custom bouse, and later in the port of Salem. In 1850 he had his first big success with The Scarlet Letter, drawing on his knowledge of New England and Puritan life. The house of the Seven Gables (1851) also dealt with problems of guilt and sin. From 1853 to 1857 Hawthorne was American consul at Liverpool in England, and then spent two years in Italy, the setting for his novel The Marble Faun (1860). He then returned to America, where he died in 1864. Hawthorne is considered one of the great American writers. Questions of sin, crime, suffering, and guilt are never far away in his work, and his view of life is a dark one. The Scarlet Letter is still one of the mort respected works of American literature. It has been made into a play and a musical, and filmed eleven times, though one film, made in the 1990s and starring Demi Moore, annoyed many Americans. This film version had an attack by Indians, naked swimming, and Arthur and Rester riding away together in a happy ending, which of course changes Hawthorne's story completely.
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