About the Book
Many remember The Scarlet Letter as required reading for reluctant sixteen year olds. The unnamed, elusive narrator of Hawthorne's ""tale of human frailty and sorrow"" is--some readers might say maddeningly--indirect, ambiguous, and inconsistent. Readers who hope to arrive at satisfying judgments about the book's four iconic characters--Hester, Arthur, Roger, and Pearl--are often left to arrive at their conclusions by guess and inference. The narrator provides what seems to be willfully incomplete information. His point of view shifts from one moral or historical perspective to another without announcement or apology. Reading Like a Serpent invites readers to reconsider this American classic as Hawthorne's challenge to the American public to become more generous, versatile, and responsible readers--especially of the Bible, a book Hawthorne hoped to rescue from moralistic literalists and legalists, reminding us that ""the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."" ""Marilyn McEntyre's meditation on The Scarlet Letter offers fresh insights on every page, in a lively invitation to reflect on the way words constrain--and convey--our apprehension of mystery. Ultimately, McEntyre invites us to read not just Hawthorne but the Gospels afresh, with an ear to hear the subversive, sly, cryptic, life-giving words of Jesus in ways that impel us toward generosity and grace."" --Paul Delaney Professor of English, Westmont College Author of Tom Stoppard: The Moral Vision of the Major Plays (1990) ""Whether Nathaniel Hawthorne is a profound theologian can be debated, but the case is clear as far as . . . McEntyre is concerned. Once again, she opens the world of literature to penetrating theological insight, exposing the many dimensions of the human way as they are reflected in Hawthorne's classic The Scarlet Letter. The literary quality of her interpretation may rightly be classed with that of Hawthorne himself."" --Patrick Miller Professor of Old Testament Theology Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary ""McEntyre tells us at the very beginning of Reading Like a Serpent that Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter is one of her favorite books. Her love for Hawthorne's novel and her delight in the crafting of words combine in happy circumstance for her readers. Read Hawthorne again with this book by your side, especially if you savor complex and elegant writing--his and her own."" --Rev. L. Ann Hallisey, DMin Organizational and Leadership Consulting ""I first began Reading Like a Serpent on the morning when I was to teach the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. With manuscript in hand, I flew to my class to discuss the sin of bad reading and its deathly consequences. Each of these prescient and elegant essays invites readers to dare a radical rereading of the times through Hawthorne's hermeneutic, which is at once complex, polyvalent, paradoxical, and wise. Moreover, McEntyre's prose will preach!"" --Cynthia A. Jarvis Minister at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia Coeditor of The Power to Comprehend with All the Saints (2009) Marilyn Chandler McEntyre is a former professor of English and Fellow of the Gaede Institute at Westmont College. She teaches at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Her most recent books include Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies (2009) and The Color of Light (2007).
About the Author: Marilyn Chandler McEntyre is a former professor of English and Fellow of the Gaede Institute at Westmont College. She teaches at UC Berkeley and UC Davis. Her most recent books include Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies (2009) and The Color of Light (2007).