First Lines: The Scarlet Letter

Picking up a copy of The Scarlet Letter was a honest mistake: just after finishing my list of 40 books to read before my 40th birthday, I apparently couldn’t quite recall which book made the final cut. Turns out that Lady Chatterley’s Lover did, and this one did not.

Sadly, I did not quite enjoy it. As I read novels for my enjoyment—deep meanings and symbolism and themes and all that literary high school crap be damned (sorry, love)—The Scarlet Letter did not seem to offer me a lot. The story is pretty thin (In Puritanical New England, a young adulteress is forced to wear a scarlet letter A as punishment for her sins. There is symbolism and themes and in the end, she is redeemed by her good deeds.) and I found Hawthorne’s prose a bit too stuffy for my liking, even after having read a fair share of 19th century prose.

Book Read
Nathaniel Hawthorne — The Scarlet Letter: A Romance
First Line
A throng of bearded men, in sad-coloured garments and grey steeple-crowned hats, inter-mixed with women, some wearing hoods, and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.