Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Christian Guides to the Classics-Scarlet Letter (Review)

Hawthorne's <i>The Scarlet Letter</i>The new Christian Guides to the Classics, published by Crossway, are study guides for Classic literature. I received a copy of Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter to review.

The introductory pages describe:

  • The Nature and Function of Literature
  • Why the Classics Matter
  • How to Read a Story

These pages are a nice introduction to the study of any classic literature. The explanations of what exactly makes a book a classic, the value of quality literature, and what to think about as you read a story will be helpful for the reading and/or study of any novel.

Next follows:

  • The Scarlet Letter: The Book at a Glance—This two-page summary describes the story line, characters, cultural context, and common misconceptions about the book.
  • The Author and His Faith—This article helps the reader to understand the point of view that Hawthorne wrote from. It explains that he was a Christian who dabbled in Transcendentalism. His notebooks are filled with references to God and he was very knowledgeable about Biblical theology. Christian practices and themes abound in The Scarlet Letter.

The bulk of the book consists of chapter plot summaries, commentaries, and questions for reflection and discussion. Each 2-3 page chapter is helpful for a quick review of the story and for pointing out imagery and themes that the reader might miss on his own.

We haven’t yet used this little book, since Emily isn’t quite ready to study The Scarlet Letter yet, but it appears to be a great guide to the book. For a novel like The Scarlet Letter, discussion of the Christian themes of sin, repentance, and morality is crucial to understanding the symbolism and intent of the author. I think our enjoyment and understanding of the novel will be enhanced with this guide and look forward to using this resource in the next year or two.

The other books in the series include The Pilgrim’s Progress, Great Expectations, The Odyssey, Paradise Lost, and Macbeth.

I received a free copy of this book from the Crossway Homeschool Book Review Program in exchange for my honest review.

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