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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Mask of Beauty Hides the Beast: Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hello, everyone!  We've had a small influx of newbies (I mean this term with the fondest conotations) to the sight after my last posting (thanks @becfitzpatrick!) so....to all of those first time visitors, welcome!  Make yourselves at home!  For those returning travelers...nice to see you (okay, technically read, or maybe display for you?), and feel free to leave your (virtual) coat with the (virtual) doorman. 

After my last read, I was in a quandary for a new book.  So many in the TBR mountain, but alas, they were not within reach.  Lucky for me...I carry a spare.  (No, I wasn't a Girl Scout, but I was a Brownie for like three meetings!)  Being prepared, I was able to successfully sustain my insatiable habit for the day...or at a least a few hours anyway....which leads to this new post.  Today's book choice is....

Rappaccini's Daughter
by
Nathaniel Hawthorne

STOP RIGHT THERE.  No, you can't runaway from the screen just because this is a classic novel, not a new release (okay, well you really can since it's a free country and all but I ask you nicely to pause and give it a chance).  For those that love this particular subcategory of fiction, you are in for a treat!

Handsome young man (Giovanni Guasconti) moves to a new city to seek out the world's knowledge.  Same said young man meets a striking young beauty (Beatrice Rappaccini) that bewitches his heart like no one before.  He is both drawn to her and repulsed by her.  (Confused?  Hang on...keep reading.)  Seemingly unable to put the two visages together to make up the sum of what his eyes see versus what his heart feels, he finds himself in her company time and time again.  It begins with subtle glances from his window perched high over her father's wondrous (yet creepy!) garden the likes of which Giovanni had neither seen nor read about, and advances to shared time mere feet from her actual being within the exotic playground itself.  Tie this pleasant supposedly random (NOT!) romance together with Signor Giacomo Rappaccini (father of Beatrice, and wacko-extrordinare) and you suddenly find yourself in the presence of the mad-scientist pulling the strings behind the curtain.  See what happens when science becomes your one true love ...


After seeing the movie for this title back in grade school, I was fascinated by the story. Why, I really can't say...I just was. I didn't seek the book out for reading enjoyment until many years later (read as about a month ago), but it still evoked the same imagery as before. True, Nathaniel Hawthorne's more famous work lies in the novel entitled "The Scarlet Letter", but this short story does stand on its own.  With rich detail and elegant wording, the author transports you back to these simpler times to uncover old world truths still applicable today.  Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but it can also be a wonderful disguise for what's really hiding underneath.

COMMENT CREATOR:  So, now that you've read the review, it's time for a comment creator...something to make you think.  If you've read this story before, what was your take on the book?  If not, what is your favorite classic and why?

Feel free to leave your comments and feedback!
Until next time...happy reading!

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