The Scarlet Letter

Got around to reading this over the past few days. (Warning: full post is a little image-heavy.)

As far as I can tell, it was printed in 1887. I bought it at a local thrift shop, about a month ago, for $0.75.

This is written very faintly in pencil on the first page of the book (I had to really jack up the image’s contrast to make it visible). I was really surprised when I found this. It made the book so much more intriguing to me to see that it was a 122-year-old Christmas gift for someone that has probably been dead for a good while.

Opposite the title page, under a sheet of protective tissue paper, is a beautiful graphic which I believe to be a woodcut.

The photo does not really do it justice, and will be redone when I learn how to take a non-blurry photo without flash (same goes for a couple other photos in this post).

The title page.

Publication info page; contents. I don’t know what number this edition is, but it’s obviously not the first, and I kinda doubt it’s very valuable.

One thing I noticed when I found it in the shop was the postcard tucked between pages 270 and 271.

I still don’t know what this really means, but I think it’s supposed to be a phonetic representation of someone speaking with an exaggerated Dutch accent: “Love is __?__ two hearts with the same __?__.”

Edit: OK, upon further discussion I’m starting to think this may either mean “Love is something that tickles two hearts with the same somethings,” or “Love is a nothing that tickles two hearts with the same somethings.” If you’re reading this, I’d love to hear any other interpretations you have to offer.

Publisher’s book lists in the back of the book, part 1 of 3.

Publisher’s book lists in the back of the book, part 2 of 3.

Publisher’s book lists in the back of the book, part 3 of 3.

The book is in adequately readable condition. Its binding is evidently deteriorated to the point that a few pages seem loose, but I’ve seen far, far worse in much younger books. No missing pages, only a few minor tears, dogears, faded pencil marks, etc. Here and there is a printing hiccup which made a letter or two go missing, but it’s never enough to render any words unable to be inferred.

The novel itself was a fairly good read. Somewhat predictable as to the roles of the characters, but contrarily, unpredictable as to the plot.

There were some very well-written, highly quotable passages which I enjoyed but did not keep track of. They’re certainly listed in many other places on the internets anyhow.

The writing was not dusty or flowery enough to frustrate me in attempting to comprehend it. A few times I was forced to reread a sentence or two because Hawthorne’s sentence structure waxed sufficiently long and winding to throw me. There is the occasional arcane “spake”, “wherefore”, and my favorite, “must needs” to be savored. I must admit there was a handful of old-fashioned words I had never seen, and which, in laziness, I didn’t look up.

I’m very happy to have discovered such a gem amongst the wide array of L. Ron Hubbard paperbacks littering the shelves of the thrift shop where I found this novel.

This entry was posted in Literature. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.