Let’s Get Literal – The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

List Item: Read 100 of the greatest works of fiction
Progress: 60/100Title: The Scarlet Letter
Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne
Year: 1850
Country: USA

It’s been over a month since I last read a book from this list, so to get back into it I figured why not go for the entry right at the bottom. After all, there are a number of books high up in the list that did very little for me so placement means very little. Also this is one of those stories where I know next to nothing despite it being fairly big in US pop culture, so it’d be good for me to get to know The Scarlet Letter a little bit better.

Well get to know it I did and, ultimately, I enjoyed it. It’s one of those rare books that, when you read it, you can really understand how the the core idea became so instantly iconic. I mean, the image of a woman being shamed in public with a scarlet letter stitched in gold, that’s something that evokes a very specific and somewhat original image.

It’s pretty impressive that the rest of the book is able to live up to this initial sequence.  This is one of those books that’s part historical novel, part doomed romance and part magic. The last of the three doesn’t really come in until the latter half, but the build up of omens do make for a rather fantastical ending that makes good on the overall themes of stigma, shaming and the idea of a person’s outsides reflecting the interior turmoil.

I want to stick with the literary train for a while, so I don’t think this is the right time to pull out Finnegans Wake as that will likely put me off the written word for the next 12 years. Given that I am in the midst of listening to You Must Remember This where the topic is Song of the South – I think that I am going to finally start on Huck Finn. I really hope I can shield my Kindle every time I come across the n-word…

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