butterflywings3 (butterflywings3) wrote in english_majors,

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The Scarlet Letter and Walden

Hi, all,
I don't like to admit this as a former English major and current English MA student, but I've never read Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and I've only read bits and pieces of Thoreau's Walden. That said, can anyone recommend websites that explain these two works in enough detail that I'll know what I'm talking about if I need to say anything about these two works in upcoming classes?

We write a post each week to the prof and other students and then talk about the posts in class, but since the post will be about two books I've never studied in depth, I'm not sure that will go over well. I don't want to seem completely incompetent, but I'm a little worried about grasping the material. Not sure I want to look at Wikipedia for this, so I wanted to check here as I continue look for other sources of information.

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Speed read the books, perhaps? Sparknotes, Wiki, other classmates who have read them? Your best bet if you don't have the time to read 'em is either Sparknotes or Wiki I think.
Yeah, reading them both isn't possible; my work is having a week of meetings that I'm required to attend, so that puts my schoolwork on a backburner until the weekend. I didn't even think of SparkNotes, though, and they may give a more study-guide approach. Thanks, much appreciated!

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I agree that you could read excerpts of Walden and probably get the gist of it. When we studied Walden in one of my undergrad English classes, I and two of my classmates had to lead the discussion on it. I don't think any of us were able to read the whole book without skimming, and we seemed to pull off a good presentation. I'd suggest just reading a couple of chapters and finding something to focus on.

As for the Scarlet Letter, I don't remember it being that long. So unless your schedule is absolutely insane, I'd think you could read it quickly enough. I read it my junior year of high school, so I don't think it was very difficult reading.

Also, just as an idea for something to talk about in class, have you read other works that would be comparable to Walden and Scarlet Letter? Like other Hawthorn books/short stories, or writers like Emerson or Whitman? You could always sparknotes the works your class is discussing, but try to flesh out what you say in class by bringing in works you *are* familiar with.
Thanks for this! Yeah, I've read many of Hawthorne's short stories and The House of the Seven Gables, so those should help, too. We're talking about Hawthorne, Thoreau, and Emerson next week, and I have access to the readings by Emerson, so I'll be able to talk about some of the material at least.
I cannot recommend any particular sites, but I will say that, with the exception of reading it in an AP English 11 class, The Scarlet Letter never came up in my college career. Walden received less attention. That said, I remember The Scarlet Letter being short enough that a focused weekend of reading it would actually be worth your time. Walden, I cannot say. Perhaps spark notes.
Much luck.