MANGA CLASSICS: The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne, SunNeko Lee, Crystal S Chan, Stacy King
Comics & Graphic
Experience CLASSIC tales in MANGA format!
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 the Colonial American period, the moral dilemmas of personal responsibility and consuming emotions of guilt, anger, loyalty and revenge are timeless.
This manga retelling of Hawthorn’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.
Available in both hardcover and paperback formats.
I haven’t had the chance to read the original novel, and I was honestly a bit worried that this would ruin my experience. That maybe, in order to enjoy this version, I’d have to read the original unabridged story first. However, the greatly condensed manga does a very good job of serving its purpose. As the adaptors said, it makes the new reader want to read the original in order to understand the story better. It certainly made me feel that way.
Hester gives us the image of strength in the face of adversity from the very first panel. The sharp contrast of the red ‘A’ she wears to the rest of the story (in black and white) has a very subtle yet firm effect on the story. While it is obvious how she could very easily blend in with the rest of the village, the mark of her sin bears down on almost everything she does. However, the meaning of the letter transforms as she becomes wiser, from “adulterer” to “able” and even to “angelic”. The subtle ways in which Manga incorporates the aura the characters have about them is maintained, best portrayed in the cases of Chillingworth and Pearl. Chillingworth’s snake is shown more than once, and Pearl’s spooky eyes up until the point when her father dies. Also her abnormal questions and abnormal observations. Dimmesdale also has this repentant sympathetic sinner vibe to him that had me wondering about the mystery from the very first scene. The absence of the unrealistic humorous characteristics usual to manga contributed a lot to the mood of the story.
Also, the highly detailed authors’ note at the end brought a lot of things into light. While I didn’t really spot the many intricate details, and that didn’t really take away from the story, noticing them would have made it that much more fascinating.
Someday, I’ll read the Manga Classics version of Pride and Prejudice. The other Manga Classics sound pretty enjoyable too. By using this form of storytelling for these revered stories makes them more approachable, especially for the younger generation, with our short attention spans.
Should I mention that manga is read from right to left? Yes, you start where you would conventionally find the end of the book.
Disclaimer: I received this book free of cost from the publisher through the NetGalley review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”