The House of the Seven Gables (Introductory Note)

 
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In September of the year during the February of which Hawthorne had

completed "The Scarlet Letter," he began "The House of the Seven
Gables." Meanwhile, he had removed from Salem to Lenox, in Berkshire
County, Massachusetts, where he occupied with his family a small red
wooden house, still standing at the date of this edition, near the
Stockbridge Bowl.

"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." But by vigorous
application he was able to complete the new work about the middle of
the January following.

Since research has disclosed the manner in which the romance is
interwoven with incidents from the history of the Hawthorne family,
"The House of the Seven Gables" has acquired an interest apart from
that by which it first appealed to the public. John Hathorne (as the
name was then spelled), the great-grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne,
was a magistrate at Salem in the latter part of the seventeenth
century, and officiated at the famous trials for witchcraft held there.
It is of record that he used peculiar severity towards a certain woman
who was among the accused; and the husband of this woman prophesied
that God would take revenge upon his wife's persecutors. This
circumstance doubtless furnished a hint for that piece of tradition in
the book which represents a Pyncheon of a former generation as having
persecuted one Maule, who declared that God would give his enemy "blood
to drink."

 
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