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Publisher's Summary

Hailed by Henry James as "the finest piece of imaginative writing yet put forth in the country", Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter reaches to our nation's historical and moral roots for the material of great tragedy.

Set in an early New England colony, the novel shows the terrible impact a single, passionate act has on the lives of three members of the community: the fiery, tortured Reverend Dimmesdale; the obsessed, vengeful Chillingworth; and the defiant Hester Prynne, who, unwilling to name her partner in adultery, is condemned to wear a scarlet "A" on the breast of her gown for the remainder of her life.

With The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne became the first American novelist to forge from our Puritan heritage a universal classic, a masterful exploration of humanity's unending struggle with sin, guilt, and pride.

(P)1994 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"After hearing this novel, readers will understand why it continues to be a classic." (AudioFile Magazine)

What members say

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  • Overall

Classic story, monotone narration

I was writing an essay that included Hawthorne's classic novel and I wanted to hear it out loud. There are several versions to choose from. If you're interested in listening to the Scarlet Letter, I would not pick this one. There is hardly any inflection in the narrator's voice; she just drones on and on as if she's some kind of machine. Granted this was written in the 19th century, and Hawthorne may be more suited to reading silently in your head. But I can't help but feel someone could pull it off. As for the novel itself, well, it's a work of genius. Hawthorne was interested above all else in the "unpardonable sin."--the violation of the human heart. I've read it about three times, and the ending gets me every time. This is dark, depressing stuff, though, not light beach fare.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tina
  • Nibley, UT, United States
  • 10-23-09

First time reader/listener

I knew nothing of this book prior to listening. The ending surprised me and I did not see it coming. The writing is old English and the listener must follow along conscientiously. I really enjoyed the story and the "stone casting" theme of a time not so different than now. I would recommend. Good narration, it may be difficult to follow if road noise is excessive or traffic is raging. Calm Sunday drives should be fine times for listening.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

true rendition

this version is well done and true to the original text

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Welsh Mafia
  • 08-18-08

An American Charles Dickens?

Dickens and Nathaniel Hawthorne were near contemporariies with the Scarlett Letter appearing in the same year as David Copperfield - interesting then for British readers to do a compare and contrast. London creeping into decay against the aspirant Commonwealth of Massachusetts - and Salem in particular. Today, Salem looks all the more picturesque for its murky background set in the greenery, close to the beautiful New England coastline and 'establishment' to its Democratic core - whilst London is now the post-modern wasteland and Dickens World, the current commercial venture on the cultural horizon offers a family of four one night's bed and breakfast for ?99 plus a chance to thrill to The Great Expectations Boat Ride.
A good reading of a great read.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful