May 23, 2015

Review: Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Crystal S. Chan and SunNeko Lee

Manga Review of the Manga Classics The Scarlett Letter
Title: Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter

Author: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Illustrator: SunNeko Lee

Adaptation: Crystal S. Chan

Publisher: UDON Entertainment

Date of Publication: March 18th, 2015

Number of Pages: 312

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary

Nathaniel Hawthorne's powerful tale of forbidden love, shame and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. When Hester Prynne bears an illegitimate child she is introduced to the ugliness, complexity, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit. Though set in a Puritan community during Colonial American period, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility and consuming emotions of guilt, anger, loyalty and revenge are timeless.

This manga retelling of Hawthorne's classic American novel is faithfully adapted by Crystal S. Chan and features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into this tragic saga of Puritan America.

Review

Another Manga Classics of another amazing classic novel! After reading Pride and Prejudice, I just needed to read other adaptations that this series included. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a tragic novel and I was curious to see how it would work out. As it turned out, there wasn't any reason for me to worry, as the manga did justice to this touching story.

Hester Prynne is disgraced publicly after having an affair and an illegitimate child with a man that she refuses to reveal his name. For this reason, she's put in prison and is forced to wear the scarlet letter A, to mark her as a sinner. In the meantime, Hester's husband comes to town and upon learning what his wife has done, he hides his identity and wants to seek vengeance from the mysterious man. Many years pass, the child grows up, Hester lives a life more virtuous than the most respectable of her neighbours, her husband finds the man responsible and makes his life a living hell. The story is well-known and really sad. One of the most touching scenes is when Pearl asks her mother what the letter A means and how she got it. Hester at this points lives quietly and even the town's counselor is thinking about letting her put the letter away, but she has to lie to her daughter, she can't let her know that this marks her as a sinner.

The adaptation of this novel was as good as the one in Pride and Prejudice. Every important scene was included, giving us the chance to witness not only the progression of the story, but the changes in the characters as well. Sometimes the dialogues felt less heavy than in the actual novel, but this fact made it easier to get through, so I wouldn't say that it bothered me. I also thought that some of the dialogues was transformed in a way that would be easier for the modern reader to digest. So, even if someone hasn't read the original novel would be drawn to the story. Of course, if you are a purist you may find this disturbing.

Judging only from the cover I suspected that the illustration would be beautiful. And I was absolutely right! The faces of the protagonists were so expressive that even without reading the dialogue I could guess what they were thinking. The expression Hester had on her face when she was holding baby Pearl, during her public shaming, was astounding. The angry and defensive face transformed into a tender one, just by looking at her baby. The change on Arthur's face, the husband of Hesther, from the beginning of the novel, also showed what he felt and how his need for vengeance transformed him into a different and malicious man, a fiend as he called himself. Baby Pearl was just so cute, and even a little older she was cute as well, with those big innocent eyes and the bright smile. Another aspect that I really loved about the illustration was the letter A. Most of the manga are black and white, but in this one the A was always painted red. This not only underlined the letter that gave its name to the novel, but also stood as a constant reminder of the significance it had on the lives of the protagonists.

The Scarlet Letter confirmed what I thought about Manga Classics and now I seriously need to find and read any other adaptations there are in the series. If you are an old fan of the classic novel or a new reader, I believe you will enjoy greatly this version. It's a different take on the story, but without losing its essence.

So, my advice is...

Read the classics!

4 comments:

  1. Wow the book sounds really cute. Great review :-)

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    Replies
    1. It is really good! Thank you for your comment :)

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  2. Adding this book to my TBR. I've never read a manga fully though I have checked out many. This one seems to be my kind ! Thanks for the insightful review. :)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you :) These Manga Classics are great because they get the essence of the classic novel and turn it into a completely different format!

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