In the final years of the seventeenth century in a small New England town, the venerable Colonel Pyncheon decides to erect a ponderously oak-framed and spacious family mansion. It occupies the spot where Matthew Maule, 'an obscure man', had lived in a log hut, until his execution for witchcraft. From the scaffold, Maule points his finger at the presiding Colonel and cries 'God will give him blood to drink!' The fate of Colonel Pyncheon exerts a heavy influence on his descendants in the crumbling mansion for the next century and a half. Hawthorne called his vel a 'Romance', drawing on the Gothic tradition which embraced and exploited the thrills of the supernatural. Unlike The Scarlet Letter, with its unrelentingly dark view of human nature and guilt, Hawthorne sought to write 'a more natural and healthy product of my mind', a story which would show guilt to be a trick of the imagination. The tension between fantasy and a new realism underpins the vel's descriptive virtuosity. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful tes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.