Bibliophiliac is the space where one passionate, voracious reader reflects on books and the reading life. You will find reviews, analysis, links, and reflections on poetry and prose both in and out of the mainstream.

A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. Franz Kafka

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Scarlet Letter and Stephen King

I think I'm developing an addiction to my own blog. I have three followers, and three is such a satisfying, if small, number. I like the idea of coming home in the evening and tapping out my thoughts on the keyboard; my thought is, why didn't I do this sooner?

I'm in the midst of The Scarlet Letter: try reading this book aloud to thirty adolescents. You can actually see the incomprehension travel over their faces in waves. Yet I persist, because I love this book, with all of its long, periodic sentences and its digressions. This "tale of human frailty and sorrow" is moving to me, no matter how many times I read it. And I fancy I see Nathaniel Hawthorne just behind a diaphanous scrim -- I can feel his intelligence and his sensibility; I can almost see the outline of his profile.

When I teach a classic novel like The Scarlet Letter I try to make connections to more contemporary works. One novel I would like to teach along with The Scarlet Letter is Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. There are two problems: we don't have copies of this book in the book room, and it isn't in the curriculum. But maybe that is the book that would really engage my students. I will probably use the Stephen King short story "The Man in the Black Suit," a vivid, creepy, and frightening story about a boy's encounter with the Devil. It is in the tradition of Stephen Crane and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and presents the Devil as a realistic character in human guise.

I'm also still trying to find time for Phineas Redux. I have to admit, it is a little jarring to one's sensibility to shift back and forth between Hawthorne and Trollope.

1 comment:

thomascalvocoressi said...

The Stephen King story reminds me of the old English lyric, "The False Knight in the Road" in which a knight (actually, our friendly devil) tests a boy by asking him several questions. The lyric has a happy ending (but I can't speak for Stephen King).....