The Scarlet Letter (Manga Classics), by Nathaniel Hawthorne/adapted by Crystal Chan/illustrated by SunNeko Lee (2014, Udon Entertainment/Morpheus Publishing), $19.99, ISBN: 9781927925331
Recommended for ages 13+
Reading the story of Hester Prynne and her scarlet letter is a rite of passage in high school, but that doesn’t always make it an accessible book. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale of adultery and a small New England Puritan town can be difficult for reluctant or struggling readers. Udon Entertainment’s Manga Classics line reaches out to those readers with beautiful art and drills the story down to the main points and action, drawing a reader in and, in essence, teaching them how to read the novel.
As with Udon’s manga adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, the main story is faithfully intact, merely abridged for easier storytelling. This is by no means a replacement for the novel, but it serves two tremendous purposes: 1) to bring new readers to the story who may never have picked the book up before, and 2) to serve as a companion read to readers who have trouble with the novel. Manga is a popular art medium that’s been reaching beyond purely Japanese titles and finding a firm audience in American adaptations, from popular YA series like Twilight and Beautiful Creatures to classics like Les Miserables, Pride and Prejudice, and now, The Scarlet Letter.
I will be adding this book to my burgeoning manga classics collection. It would a fun display idea to feature the original and its manga adaptation side by side – I’d love to see how it affects my circulation.
The Scarlet Letter will be out in March, but you can pick up copies of Udon’s manga adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and Les Miserables right now.
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