Saturday, January 15, 2011
This is a twisted tale of greed and its consequences. Though the basic plot is engaging enough, Hawthorne is exceedingly loquacious, and even pauses at times to apologize for his tangents. For example, after a pages long description of the activities of chickens in the seven gables garden, Hawthorne writes: "The author needs great faith in the reader's sympathy, else he must hesitate to give details so minute, and incidents apparently so trifling, as are essential to make up the idea of this garden life." Indeed!
Hawthorne's prose is also very ornate. I often would read a line or two aloud to Daniel, and then "translate" it into plain English. Here's a line describing a boy eating a gingerbread whale, after having eaten quite a few other gingerbread animals in the days before: "The great fish, reversing his experience with the prophet of Nineveh, immediately began his progress down the same red pathway of fate whither so varied a caravan had preceded him."
While the journey was often arduous, and the ending wrapped events up rather predictibly (though I am still not 100% sure what happened to cousin Judge Pyncheon), I am glad I read it. Not only because it is the first completed novel of my Classics Monthly Challenge, but also because my mother tried to get me to read it for years (even to the point that she sent it to me to Ecuador to read).