Sunday, November 21, 2010

Review: The Scarlett Letter

The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Wayne Josephson

Publication Date: November 2009
Publisher: Readable Classics
Format: Paperback, 210 pp
Genre: Classic
ISBN-13: 9780615332017
ISBN: 0615332013

(For review from the author)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Author's Website:

Excerpt: Click Here!

Other Readable Classics: Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, The Odyssey, Moby Dick, The Red Badge of Courage

Other books by the author: Emma and the Vampires

Readable Classics gently edits great works of literature to provide study aids for students and make the classics less frustrating for modern times.

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

Puritan Boston, 1600's - Beautiful, defiant Hester Prynne commits adultery, refuses to name the father of her illegitimate child, and is condemned to sear a scarlet A on her breast for the rest of her life. Her character becomes the first true heroine of American fiction.

Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1850 masterpiece was the first American novel to explore the moral struggle with sin, guilt, and pride; the conflict between the heart and the mind; and the deadly consequences of not being able to forgive ourselves and others.

The Scarlett Letter is one of my favorite classics of all time. It was required reading when I was in high school and I must admit I really struggled with it because of the language. It was hard to understand and when we had to read aloud in class it was embarrassing to stumble over the words, needless to say it wasn't my favorite at the time.

If perchance, as students we would have had access to a book like, Wayne Josephson's Readable Classic of The Scarlett Letter, I'm sure it would have been a much more enjoyable experience. Josephson has taken a classic and modernized it so that the language and the plot are much more understandable. Students and readers who have long wanted to read the classics but found them daunting will be very happy to find Readable Classics.

Hester Prynne was a young married woman sent ahead to the new world to prepare for the coming of her husband. When he is believed to be lost at sea she moves on with her life in a new community, but she commits a crime in the eyes of the town and is given a harsh sentence. Because she bares an illegitimate child and refuses to name the father she must wear the scarlet letter on her dress for the rest of her days.

When her husband re-emerges and finds that Hester has betrayed him, he will stop at nothing to find out who the man is that fathered her child. It's a harrowing story during a time in history when the witch trials were close at hand and punishment for sins was harsh. The characters are not only tortured by the community but within themselves for the sins they have committed.

Nathaniel Hawthorne created a masterpiece when he wrote The Scarlett Letter and Wayne Josephson has edited it in such a way that none of the original potency of the manuscript is changed. Josephson has a knack for knowing exactly what language and syntax needs to be updated without taking anything away from the original but enhancing it and making it easier for readers to understand. I certainly wish I had, had this version when I was in school.

I recommend this one to anyone who wants to cultivate a love for the classics in their children as students or in themselves. It's an easier way to make the classics enjoyable and entertaining as well as educational.

The Scarlett Letter and other Readable Classics are available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

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