Thursday, July 3, 2008

The House of the Seven Gables: The Official Haiku Review

After struggling through Moby Dick's 700 whale-detail-filled pages, it was a pleasant change of pace to open up Nathaniel Hawthorne's 300-page romance. (Strangely enough, it was published the same year, 1851, as Melville's epic, which he dedicated to Hawthorne "in token of my admiration for his genius.") So here is my Official Haiku Review:

Suits not the New World's temper
Love is the best wealth

Granted, there were some places where Hawthorne's prose approached the lavender, if not downright purple. But this story, which on the surface is about a New England family cursed by an ancestor's greedy land grab, really explores the American temperament of the mid-1800s. Were we to be a country where family wealth or prestige (for good or ill) predetermined the course of our lives? Or were we to truly embrace the brave American experiment, where "all men are created equal" and an individual could achieve his own destiny through hard work and determination? It is clear where Hawthorne stands on the matter. That he explores these questions through a story which involves mystery and romance made it all the more fun to read. It may not be a grand epic, but I'm glad I included it in my summer Remedial Lit Project. I think next I shall tackle another American writer I overlooked, JF Cooper, and see if he breaks the tie.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the Melville opus had that effect on me too; I never thought I'd be so excited to open up Jane Eyre.

    Am looking forward to the Hawthorne. The Proust sadly may be more Melvillean than I'd like...