Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne – 5 stars
Thanks to Udon Entertainment for letting me have a copy!
I’ve never read the original Hawthorne novel – it’s always looked a bit heavy and intimidating to me – so when I found the option to read it in manga form, I jumped at the chance. I’m completely new to manga, so I found the instructions at the beginning invaluable. You read from the back of the book, and from right to left. It hurt my brain at first, but you soon get into the swing of things!
The story basically follows a young woman called Hester Prynne, who is found guilty of adultery and is the mother of an illegitimate child. The punishment at that time for such a sin was a term of imprisonment, and the perpetrator was forced to where a badge bearing the letter ‘A’ in red, marking her out as a sinful woman.
Having never read the original novel, I obviously can’t comment on how closely this adaptation sticks to it. I was, however, so impressed by the richness of the characters, and by how much life the beautiful art breathed into the story. Obviously the pictures aren’t drawn to be true-to-life depictions of human beings, but in that freedom there was no less truth. Does that make sense? This story is told by cartoons, but it’s the most complex and moving thing I’ve read in a while.
I’m coming to realise that I’m probably the worst person to review this: I have no idea whether the dialogue was especially sharp (I thought it was great), or whether the page design was anything special (I loved it), or even if the length was normal (I gobbled it up in one sitting – figuratively). I am, however, really glad that this was my introduction to manga. I thought it was tight, well-crafted, and a really beautiful adaptation of a novel that I’m sure I’ll get round to reading…some time. I think it will inspire a lot of people to give the chunkier version a chance.
If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Also, if you have any recommendations for a beginner manga reader, please let me know 😛
Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!