(M47'12) The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne

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(M47'12) The House of the Seven Gables, Nathaniel Hawthorne

Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu": L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.

jul. 10, 2012, 7:50pm

Another instance of keeping track. Back in a while..

jul. 19, 2012, 9:46pm

I had nearly 50 notes and marks in this one, so hang in there with me as I put them all up here. It'll probably be more like 25...

"I sha'n't have the new story ready by November," he explained to his publisher, on the 1st of October, "for I am never good for anything in the literary way till after the first autumnal frost, which has somewhat such an effect on my imagination that it does on the foliage here about me-multiplying and brightening its hues."
This was in the introductory note and I couldn't help saving it. I loved the notion, being someone who understands the idea of inspiration.

He would be glad, therefore, if-especially in the quarter to which he alludes-the book may be read strictly as a Romance, having a great deal more to do with the clouds overhead than with any portion of the actual soil of the County of Essex.
This was also from the intro... I thought it was a great old school example of saying people and places in this novel are a work of fiction, any similarity to actual people or places is pure coincidence... or whatever they say. :)

On the triangular portion of the gable, that fronted next the street, was a dial, put up that very morning, and on which the sun was still marking the passage of the first bright hour in a history that was not destined to be all so bright.
I'm going to say this a lot in this book, but I loved this.

The company, tremulous as the leaves of a tree, when all are shaking together, drew nearer, and perceived that there was an unnatural distortion in the fixedness of Colonel Pyncheon's stare; that there was blood on his ruff, and that his hoary beard was saturated with it.
It was more the trembling people compared to the leaves that I felt on in this one.

His character, indeed, might be traced all the way down, as distinctly as if the Colonel himself, a little diluted, had been gifted with a sort of intermittent immorality on earth.
I just love the way people describe things back then... Such great words to say so much...

The tradition was, that a certain Alice Pyncheon had flung up the seeds, in sport, and that the dust of the street and the decay of the roof gradually formed a kind of soil for them, out of which they grew, when Alice had long been in the grave. However the flowers might have come here, it was both sad and sweet to observe how Nature adopted to herself this desolate,decaying, gusty, rusty old house of the Pyncheon family, and how the ever-returning Summer did her best to gladden it with tender beauty, and grew melancholy in the effort.
Welcome to life after people.

Ever since the old gentleman retired from trade, and fell asleep under his coffin-lid, not only the shop-door, but the inner arrangements, had been suffered to remain unchanged; while the dust of ages gathered inch-deep over the shelves and counter, and partly filled an old pair of scales, as if it were of value enough to be weighed.
Yet again, I loved this description. The dust having value on the scales...

There, again, she has upset a tumbler of marbles, all of which roll different ways, and each individual marble, devil-directed, into the most difficult obscurity that it can find.
They just don't talk like this any more... *sigh*

Without giving herself time for a second thought, she rushed into the shop, pale, wild, desperate in gesture and expression, scowling portentously, and looking far better qualified to do fierce battle with a housebreaker than to stand smiling behind the counter, bartering small wares for a copper recompense.
More of they don't write like this any more.

Okay, I'm not going to quote the whole thing, but at location 808 there comes a description of one of the characters, who hasn't been doing anything. "Must the whole world toil, that the palms of her hands may be kept white and delicate?" That's the end of it... and It's as true today as it was then.

She had dwelt too much alone,--too long in the Pyncheon house,--until her very brain was impregnated with the dry-rot of its timbers.
More "/love/ it."

His had had relation to no other part of his dress, and but very little to the head that wore it. Thus Uncle Venner was a miscellaneous old gentleman, partly himself, but, in good measure, somebody else, patched together too, of different epochs; an epitome of times and fashions.
It's getting so late in my mind that all I can say is how I love a line. Maybe it's the book, maybe it's my head... maybe I /really/ need to try and cool down... Take a break... and come back in the morning. There was a visual aspect to this that simply had to be saved, though.

jul. 21, 2012, 8:18pm

But--Whether it were the white roses, or whatever the subtile influence might be--a person of delicate instinct would have known at once that it was now a maiden's bedchamber, and had been purified of all former evil and sorrow by her sweet breath and happy thoughts. Her dreams of the past night, being such cheerful ones, had exorcised the gloom, and now haunted the chamber in its stead.

After arranging matters to her satisfaction, Phoebe emerged from her chamber, with a purpose to descend again into the garden. Besides the rosebush, she had observed several other species of flowers growing there in a wilderness of neglect, and obstructing one another's development (as is often the parallel case in human society) by their uneducated entanglement and confusion.

This is just a section I highlighted for the enjoyment of women... And I mean enjoying women as someone else. They really do have a way about them that changes your life. Change the area around you, change your heart... All that.

The eye of Heaven seemed to look down into it pleasantly, and with a peculiar smile, as if glad to perceive that nature, elsewhere overwhelmed, and driven out of the dusty town, had there been able to retain a breathing-place.
I just liked that bit. Didn't make a note on it or anything.

The half-starved rats, at any rate, stole visibly out of their hiding places, and sat on their hind-legs, snuffing the funny atmosphere, and wistfully awaiting an opportunity to nibble.
Awh! A writer from back in the day writes rats as cute as they are! Isn't that sweet?

Life, within the doors, has few pleasanter prospects than a neatly arranged and well-provisioned breakfast-table. We come to it freshly, in the dewy youth of the day, and when our spiritual and sensual elements are in better accord than at a later period; so that the material delights of the morning meal are capable of being fully enjoyed, without any very grievous reproaches, whether gastric or conscientious, for yielding even a trifle overmuch to the animal department of our nature.
I just liked this, that's all.

This remarkable urchin, in truth, was the very emblem of old Father Time, both in respect of his all-devouring appetite for men and things, and because he, as well as Time, after ingulfing thus much of creation, looked almost as youthful as if he had been just that moment made.
This is describing a boy who's come to the store to eat gingerbread figures. He

As is customary with the rich, when they aim at the honors of a republic, he apologized, as it were, to the people, for his wealth, prosperity, and elevated station, by a free and hearty manner towards those who knew him; putting off the more of his dignity in due proportion with the humbleness of the man whom he saluted, and thereby proving a haughty consciousness of his advantages as irrefragably as if he had marched forth preceded by a troop of lackeys to clear the way.
I thought this a very true description of people who sort of look down on those who don't have things.

The sick in mind, and, perhaps, in body, are rendered more darkly and hopelessly so by the manifold reflection of their disease, mirrored back from all quarters in the deportment of those about them; they are compelled to inhale the poison of their own breath, in infinite repetition.
I also thought this was true.

If a tear--a maiden's sunshiny tear over imaginary woe--dropped upon some melancholy page, Clifford either took it as a token of actual calamity, or else grew peevish, and angrily motioned her to close the volume. And wisely too! Is not the world sad enough, in genuine earnest, without making a pastime of mock sorrows.
They just don't /write/ like this any more. Not only that, people don't /think/ this way any more...

The daguerreotypist had found these beans in a garret, over one of the seven gables, treasured up in an old chest of drawers by some horticultural Pyncheon of days gone by, who doubtless meant to sow them the next summer, but was himself first sown in Death's garden-ground.
Loved this thinking. Very cool.

For, what other dungeon is so dark as one's own heart! What jailer so inexorable as one's self!
I highlighted this, so did 100 other people.

Behold him, scattering airy spheres abroad from the window into the street! Little impalpable worlds were those soap-bubbles, with the big world depicted, in hues bright as imagination, on the nothing of their surface. It was curious to see how the passers-by regarded these brilliant fantasies, as they came floating down, and made the dull atmosphere imaginative about them. Some stopped to gaze, and perhaps, carried a pleasant recollection of the bubbles onward as far as the street-corner; some looked angrily upward, as if poor Clifford wronged them by setting an image of beauty afloat so near their dusty pathway. A great many put out their fingers or their walking-sticks to touch, withal; and were perversely gratified, no doubt, when the bubble, with all its pictured earth and sky scene, vanished as if it had never been.
I LOVED this. It made me want to write something about bubbles being little worlds.

But the sympathy or magnetism among human beings is more subtile and universal than we think; it exists, indeed, among different classes of organized life, and vibrates from one to another. A flower, for instance, as Phoebe herself observed, always began to droop sooner in Clifford's hand, or Hepzibah's, than in her own; and by the same law, converting her whole daily life into a flower fragrance for these two sickly spirits, the blooming girl must inevitably droop and fade much sooner than if worn on a younger and happier breast. Unless she had now and then indulged her brisk impulses, and breathed rural air in a suburban walk, or ocean breezes along the shore,--had occasionally obeyed the impulse of Nature in New England girls, by attending a metaphysical or philosophical lecture, or viewing a seven-mile panorama, or listening to a concert,--had gone shopping about the city, ransacking entire depots of splendid merchandise, and bringing home a ribbon,--had employed likewise, a little time to read the Bible in her chamber, and had stolen a little more to think of her mother and her native place--unless for such moral medicines as the above, we should soon have beheld our poor phoebe grow thin and put on a bleached, unwholesome aspect, and assume strange, shy ways, prophetic of an old-maidenhood and a cheerless future.
I must have just liked this bit because I didn't make a note on it.

But these transparent natures are often deceptive in their depth; those pebbles at the bottom of the fountain are farther from us than we think.
There was more to this than just this line. I think you'd have to read the whole thing.

"For example, then" continued Holgrave: "a dead man, if he happens to have made a will, disposes of wealth no longer his own; or if he die intestate, it is distributed in accordance with the notions of men much longer dead than he. A dead man sits on all our judgement-seats; and living judges do but search out and repeat hid decisions. We read in dead men's books! We laugh at dead men's jokes, and cry at dead men's pathos! We are sick of dead men's diseases, physical and moral, and die of the same remedies with which dead doctors killed their patients! we worship the living Deity according to dead men's forms and creeds. Whatever we seek to do, of our own free motion, a dead man's icy hand obstructs us! Turn your eyes to what point we may, a dead man's white, immitigable face encounters them, and freezes our heart! And we must be dead ourselves before we can begin to have our proper influence on our own world, which will then be no longer our world, but the world of another generation, with which we shall have no shadow of a right to interfere. I ought to have said, too, that we live in dead men's houses; as, for instance, in this of the Seven Gables!"
Aside from all the dead stuff... I loved the way this was written, because it's so very true. We use dead men's machines too... It's just so much to think of how much the dead influence our lives. A unique perspective on this now a days.

"But we shall live to see the day, I trust," went on the artist, "when no man shall build his house for posterity. Why should he? He might just as reasonably order a durable suit of clothes,--leather, or guttapercha, or whatever else lasts the longest,--so that his greatgrandchildren should have the benefit of them, and cut precisely the same figure in the world that he himself does. If each generation were allowed and expected to build its own houses, that single change, comparatively unimportant in itself, would imply almost every reform which society is now suffering for. I doubt whether even our public edifices--our capitols, state-houses, court-houses, city-hall, and churches,--ought to be built of such permanent materials as stone or brick. IT were better that they should crumble to ruin once in twenty years, or thereabouts, as a hint to the people toexamine into and reform the institutions which they symbolize."
Yes, other than the waste of material, I actually think this is kind of a good idea. Odd, though it may seem.

It will take a tighter workman than I am to keep the spirits out of the Seven Gables.
This is much more telling if you understand the book... the house was built on land that was once owned by a man who was accused of being a witch /just/ so that the land could be taken from him by the person who build the house. As the "witch" died, he threw out a "curse" on the accuser and his family, who have all "choked on their own blood" or some such. Every generation hands down the house to the next... and gets the disease too. Now the place is empty except for an old maid, her brother who is mentally unstable and their young niece... And a lot of memories.

The Judge followed his cousin from the shop, where the foregoing conversation had passed, into the parlor, and flung himself heavily into the great ancestral chair. Many a former Pyncheon had found repose in its capacious arms: rosy children, after their sports; young men, dreamy with love; grown men, weary with cares; old men, burdened with winters,--they had mused, and slumbered, and departed to yet a profounder sleep.
There, you see.

It brought her up, as we may say, with a kind of shock, when she beheld everything under the same appearance as the day before, and numberless preceding days, except for the difference between sunshine and sullen storm.
Just a line I highlighted.

A party of girls, and one young man, on opposite sides of the car, found huge amusement in a game of ball. They tossed it to and fro, with peals of laughter that might be measured by mile-lengths; for, faster than the nimble ball could fly, the merry players fled unconsciously along, leaving the trail of their mirth far behind, and ending their game under another sky than had witnessed it.
This whole description of the train going along is great stuff, but this part stuck out at me the most.

"The past is but a coarse and sensual prophecy of the present and the future."
I liked that line too.

"Why, therefore, should he build a more cumborus habitation than can readily be carried off with him? Why should he make himself a prisoner for life in brick, and stone, and old worm-eaten timber, when he may just as easily dwell, in one sense, nowhere,--in a better sense, wherever the fit and beautiful shall offer him a home?"
Again with this idea of being travelers, not permanent.

"It is as clear to me as sunshine,--were there any in the sky,--that the greatest possible stumbling-blocks in the path of human happiness and improvement are these heaps of bricks and stones, consolidated with mortar, or hewn timber, fastened together with spike-nails, which men painfully contrive for their own torment, and call them house and home! The soul needs air; a wide sweep and frequent change of it. Morbid influences, in a thousand-fold variety, gather about hearths, and pollute the life of households. There is no such unwholesome atmosphere as that of an old home, rendered poisonous by one's defunct forefathers and relatives."
He goes on to say that he's talking of what he knows... because, of course, he lives in the house of Seven Gables... and is finally free of its curse, so he thinks. Such as this example:
A man will commit almost any wrong,--he will heap up an immense pile of wickedness, as hard as granite, and which will weigh as heavily upon his soul, to eternal ages,--only to build a great, gloomy, dark-chambered mansion, for himself to die in, and for his posterity to be miserable in.
All saying the same, but differently, in a way.

Well; it is absolutely too late for dinner! Turtle, salmon, tautog, woodcock, boiled turkey, South-Down mutton, pig, roast-beef, have vanished, or exist only in fragments, with lukewarm potatoes, and gravies crusted over with cold fat.
This whole description of the man's life going on without him... I really liked. I can only put up part of it for plot reasons. Don't want to ruin it for those who haven't gotten to this classic yet. ;)

Death is so genuine a fact that it excludes falsehood, or betrays its emptiness; it is a touchstone that proves the gold, and dishonors the baser metal. Could the departed, whoever he may be, return in a week after his decease, he would almost invariably find himself at a higher or lower point than he had formerly occupied, on the scale of public appreciation.
This is so true, dang it. Why are people judged by the turnout at their funeral? Why are wrongs ignored in death? Why are rights not /put/ right to honor those dead? It's all a public opinion thing and you can say and do whatever you want because the people /are/ dead... it's their last chance to be popular, good... whatever.

And that, anyway, is the end of my notes and such. The book goes on, but I'm not giving anything away... Other than it has always claimed to be a romance... and it isn't much of one... More CSI, I'd say... Without the who-done-it.

oct. 6, 2012, 12:56pm

I'm kind of ashamed to say that I haven't read many of the 'classics' - having always had a penchant for speculative fiction (as it's now called) that's been mostly what I've read.

You say at one point in your notes that you love the way people describe things 'back then' and I think one of the things that strikes me when I read your notes on the classics is that you're right. They just don't write things the way they used to.

The half-starved rats, at any rate, stole visibly out of their hiding places, and sat on their hind-legs, snuffing the funny atmosphere, and wistfully awaiting an opportunity to nibble.
Awh! A writer from back in the day writes rats as cute as they are! Isn't that sweet?

That /was/ very well written. I love it when things like this are written in books. Rats so often get a bad press, it's good to see them getting a good one for once!

They just don't /write/ like this any more. Not only that, people don't /think/ this way any more...
This was a note you wrote about one of your quotes and I think you have hit the nail on the head. Peope /don't/ think that way any more, so maybe that's why writers don't write that way now too.

I LOVED this. It made me want to write something about bubbles being little worlds.
I loved this comment, and the quote that inspired it. All I can say is that I would like to read your writing about bubbles being little worlds.

But these transparent natures are often deceptive in their depth; those pebbles at the bottom of the fountain are farther from us than we think.
This is my favourite quote from the book that you have noted here. There is so /very/ much in it. It's the kind of quote to meditate on.