Young Giovanni arrives in Padua to discover a lush and mysterious garden on the estate of the mysterious Doctor Rappaccini. Amidst the verdant and exotic foliage, Giovanni finds love in the form of Beatrice - the Doctor's daughter. What deadly secret does the young girl and her father keep hidden?
Published in 1844, Rappaccini's Daughter, is one of Hawthorne's most well known works. And, when one reviews the plot, the story can be considered an early example of modern science fiction. Later works, like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and other more contemporary pieces, come back to consider what Hawthorne explored in these pages - does man have the right to shape nature to his own will?
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Not as I remembered it, but very good
Steven Jay Cohen's reading was very suitable to the material, soft, propelling, at times breathless (breath being a dominant motif in Hawthorne's story). I first read the story 40+ years ago in seventh grade and remember liking it almost as much as "The Birth-mark," though I'm not sure what I could have made of either of these stories back then. The Romantic notion's and ideology that permeate " Rappacicini's Daughter" are quite lofty and challenging to follow. That said, Hawthorne's sentences are simply beautiful and are well-suited for being read aloud. I think Hawthorne would have appreciated Mr.. Cohen's reading a great deal.
Mr. Cohen has five character voices to differentiate (3 male and 2 female) and he does an excellent job transitioning from narrator to the various character voices (something that seems to throw a lot of audible book readers off balance.)
My only reason for withholding a fifth star for performance is that Mr. Cohen's reading varied from the printed text (I was following along in the well-respected Library of America edition). Perhaps it was a matter of textual variants, but some were surely flubs that could have been easily fixed in the studio. But nothing so serious to mar the listener's experience of this marvelous Hawthorne tale.
- Charles S. Houser
- Sandra Rae