28 Ramadhan, 1439
Finished reading Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables just now, whilst visiting Mak at Alor Gajah Hospital. Surprised at just how good the novel was (not sure why I should be surprised, but I was, so there you are) and delighted to see Mak looking a good deal better than I expected, and out of Intensive Care.
Hawthorne treads a very fine line in his novel between straightforward realism, in that all the events have completely rational explanations, and the world of the supernatural, the gothic, the Romantic. His sustained balancing act is impressive, suggestive of a writer in assured control of his material. I was particularly impressed by the chapter comprising a sustained meditation upon the death of Judge Pyncheon. The notion that the only spirits involved are those of the readers and we are the ones conjuring the procession of the various dead of the Pyncheon family that bear witness to the death of Jaffrey Pyncheon was done neatly and convincingly. Hawthorne is very good indeed at engaging the reader in the static. Not much happens in the novel, but it happens in a genuinely satisfying manner.
In fact, in some ways The House of the Seven Gables is really a tightly wrought short story given room to breathe.