The 2015 Classics Challenge set up by Stacey over at The Pretty Books. The goal is to read one classic a month and to blog about the experience. I've always wanted to read more classics and since I'm in a monthly classics book group, I thought this would be a great way to combine the two! This month, I've read The Scarlett Letter and yes I've read it in March and yes, I'm slow with posting!
WHEN I DISCOVERED THIS CLASSIC + WHY I CHOSE TO READ IT
I've read this book because it was the pick of the month for my book club. Besides that, which is kinda a lame reason to read a book, I really have always wanted to read this book. I'm not sure when I first heard about it, but it seemed like one of those books that was always referenced in other books (even in The Duff, which I just finished) and I never understood the references. Another thing that annoyed me was that ALL my friends had read this book. I like to be a smartass and the only way to do that is to read the books everyone else has read so I can tell people they're completely wrong about them.
WHAT MAKES IT A CLASSIC
If I must guess what makes this book a classics, it's the historical context of the book. I've heard it's the first mass produced American novel and it was progressive for its age. Even now, I had to appreciate the feminist undertone of the novel, with the depiction of Hester, and the amount I've learned about colonial America. I've studied American History in uni but this book really shed a light on how people lived back then and I think this will forever draw readers to the book.
WHAT I THOUGHT OF THIS CLASSIC
Having said all that praise for why The Scarlett Letter is a classic, and I would never argue that it isn't, I personally could not enjoy this book at all.
Where is the dialogue in this book? It was all tell - tell - tell and nothing was showed to the reader which made it an exhausting read for me. On top of that, there was a very strong moralistic undercurrent in the story and I felt like Hawthorne was just shouting at me "LOOK AT THE MORAL! LEARN YOUR LESSON". That in itself is annoying enough, but I also struggled with what the moral was. I spend two hours with my book group talking about what exactly Hawthorne is critiquing / praising and we just couldn't figure it out. If you want us to take a moral away from the story, and the writing makes clear that that was the plan, at least make it a clear moral.
WILL IT STAY A CLASSIC
How can it not? As long as America exists, people will read it to find out what America was like in the beginning. If America somehow magically ceases to exist, people will read it to find out what America used to be like. And as long as gender issues will exist in this world, which I unfortunately think is forever, this book will be used to discuss these issues.
WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO
Americans. I think this book is so American and has so many references to that society, and really shows how the contemporary society was developed, that American readers will appreciate this book even more than any other readers. Or people obsessed with America so you can pretend you live there.