I’ll put my hand up and admit that when I started in the world of books I used to pretend that I had read some of the “that’s a classic” books when I hadn’t.
I did it because I had this perception that to be a good bookseller you had to have literary cred.
Since then I’ve realised that you don’t have to have read it, but at least heard of it.
Now, if I haven’t read that “classic” I admit it.
Currently in my TBR pile are the “classics” Moby Dick and To Kill a Mockingbird and there are even more that haven’t even made it to TBR stage, which brings me back to the point of this post – The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
It ended up in TBR pile as a 3-for-2 deal with the other two classics because I watched the movie Easy A.
Set in the puritan state mid-seventeen century Boston The Scarlet Letter is the (cautionary) tale of Hester Prynne. Hester has committed the sin of adultery, her penance, to wear her shame in the form of the letter A embroidered on her chest. Hester suffers on her own, refusing to name her co-sinner, and father of daughter Pearl. Throw in the minister Arthur Dimmesdale, a man of medical science Roger Chillingworth, religious rules, a hint of mystery and witchcraft and a lot of guilt and you have the rest of the story.
I had a real issue last year re-reading Great Expectations (yes, that was a classic I had read) and actually stopped reading it (a first for me), and, if The Scarlet Letter had been longer I would have stopped reading it. I wasn’t attached to any of the characters. – I admired Hester and her ability to keep quiet about such a big thing, to take all punishment and stigma attached to it and only get outraged on the prospect of loosing her daughter, but at the same time I want to shake her and say ‘what the?!’ … Everything was flat and matter of fact without much emotion to it … I guess given when it was set that is the way of it.
So in summary, I’m indifferent to The Scarlet Letter – not glad to have read it, but not upset enough about it to hate it. The “Seen on Screen” connection is a little thin, but, if I were choosing between re-reading or re-watching I’d be getting the popcorn out.