Hawthorne 101

Witch City Writers offers a free “House of the Seven Gables” primer followed by a treasure hunt at The Gables.

The House of the Seven Gables, along with Witch City Writers, help demystify Nathaniel Hawthorne’s iconic novel.

It’s a safe bet that few readers have added Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The House of the Seven Gables, to their summer beach reads list. The 1851 thriller — replete with ghosts, mysterious deaths, a family curse and accusations of witchcraft — is, nonetheless, not an easy read.

Salem’s Witch City Writers to the rescue. On Saturday, July 21, at 10:30 a.m., at The Gables’ Visitor Center, members of the literary group will demystify Hawthorne’s vocabulary and syntax. After a short, fun lesson, participants will set off to find and photograph iconic spots referenced in the bestselling novel. The person who uncovers the most references wins a prize. Participation is free, thanks to the generosity of Mass Humanities. To take part, register and bring along a camera or smart phone. 

“I love Hawthorne’s writing, but The House of the Seven Gables is hard,” says Jess Haberman, co-founder of Witch City Writers. “Once you get into it, it flies along. There’s so much spookiness. It’s quite an adventure but you have to get past the voice. It takes a few minutes to look things up, so we’ll help people learn how to put things in context.” No one will be expected to have read the book. 

Haberman and her Witch City Writer colleagues want to help readers interact a little more easily with the novel. “Hawthorne used a very different language in a very different time,” she says. “We’ll start off with a synopsis and explain the era. Those who live in the Salem area, especially, want to learn a little bit more about this important book. This is the way to do it. We’re going to make it lots of fun.”

Those interested may reserve a spot at 7gables.org. For more information, email jarrison@7gables.org or call 978-744-0991, ext. 152.


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