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The Education of Hyman Kaplan (Harvest Book) [Paperback]

Leonard Q. Ross
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

31 Dec 1968 Harvest Book
In the 1930s, the hilarious Hyman Kaplan, student of English at The American Night Preparatory School for Adults, is busy wrestling with the rudiments of the language and outwitting his classmates and tutors.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 158 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Publishers Ltd (31 Dec 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156278111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156278119
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 13.2 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 560,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Closer Look 9 Dec 1997
By A Customer
The Education of Hyman Kaplan is an almost lost creation of Leo Rosten, a book I discovered a few years ago. On the face this book is a comedy of language set among the immigrant students of an adult language school in New York. There is no doubt the Rosten has a flair for bringing out the hilarious subtleties of the English language, and the book moves so quickly it seems unfairly short. Mr. Parkhill's beginners grade classroom is the scene of countless battle and wars, where the students struggle against syntax, diction, and each other. Some of the botched quotes from Shakespeare are masterpieces in themselves. I had no idea a book of this kind could be such a riot, and never knew our language was so close to lunacy.
The hapless hero, Kaplan, provides a wonderful vehicle for Rosten to maneuver through the pitfalls and traps of the many idiomed English Language. However, behind the books' mangled metaphors, garbled grammar, and reinvented history, lies the world of the immigrant in New York City. The light-hearted episodes are interspersed with an occasional look into the difficult life of a brand new American. These chapters show the optimism and the will to succeed that Kaplan's fellow students brought with them to America. Kaplan himself is an emblem of endurance; forever doomed to stay in the beginners grade, yet never despairing of the always elusive verb tenses.
This book has only one "weakness": it does not cater to cynicism. It looks ahead, from the eyes of each of the characters, to a better time, a better place, with better pronunciation. This is a glimpse of the Dream of America that I had not seen, a different view that fascinated me. I think the strangest thing is that the book is never preachy. It is likely this is because Rosten wrote this book as a mature writer, with many other works under his belt. His tendency to constant revision has left this book a polished gem. Read, laugh, and enjoy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, intelligent, winning. 4 April 2000
By A Customer
This is one of the best and most memorable books I have ever read. It charms you because it is funny without being vicious, something increasingly rare nowadays. My mum read it as a teenager having picked it up in the local library, and when I reached the same age at which she had read it, she gave it to me. Recently I loaned a tape version of it to my boyfriend, and he found it as funny as I do, but as he studies linguistics and is an assistant teacher of German, I'm not surprised!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Hyman Kaplan is unique. He is an immigrant in 1938 New York learning English, except his ability to misconstrue and mispronounce almost everything to do with the language is hilarious.

There are fifteen vignettes describing his difficulties, difficulties as seen by his instructor Mr Parkhill, but not by Hyman, who sails happily above all such trifles oblivious to the auditory anguish felt by those around him.

Read it out loud to enjoy the flavour of his language to the full. I've owned this little book since 1961, it was a Christmas present from a fellow Punch enthusiast, one of my best ever Christmas presents.

Highly Recommended!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unbearable Wierdness of the English Language 28 Sep 2000
Oh, eau, O! Does Hyman have a field day with the sometimes complex and sometimes downright ridiculous weigh sum English words work, look and sound! In a fine attempt at attaining citizenship of the United States of America, Jewish immigrant Hyman Kaplan entertains us at the same time as he reduces his tutor to a drivelling wreck. He possesses an unshakeable belief in saying what he means, misunderstanding what he reeds, and righting what he insists are sentences, and not sentences. Sentences should consist of words and not years to serve in a penitentiary. A wonderful view of the smorgasbord of Ewe Ess Aye's invited guests from The Rest of the Whirled, struggling to become part of the American dream. A laugh a paige, this book will encourage me to read more of Leo Rosten's work. (Eau, bye the weigh, Leo was the guy who rote the book.)
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book Ever 6 April 1999
By A Customer
This is the best damn book I've ever read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So funny! 28 Jun 2014
By Jilko
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I greatly enjoyed this book which my father read to me and my sisters as youngsters. As an immigrant in France I can appreciate laughing at mistakes foreigners can make.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent service 11 April 2013
Verified Purchase
Just what you hope for. Punctual and correct. Will use again if possible - difficult to find book so very pleased
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5.0 out of 5 stars Charm and laughter 10 Mar 2013
By Dawn D
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a lover of the English language, I found myself reading the accented parts out aloud. I also fell in love ith Hyman! A warm story that made me laugh out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed this story!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by trevor sargison
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading
I enjoyed the humour in this book despite being very different from my usual reading matter. If you have a love of words & the misunderstandings dialect etc. Read more
Published 20 months ago by P. A. Rowberry
3.0 out of 5 stars Didn't do it for me
This book came highly recommended by several friends but it didn't work for me - which is probably my loss.
Published 21 months ago by S E A
1.0 out of 5 stars Funny in parts, but mostly "superior"
Mono-linguists often think that struggling bi-linguists are stupid. Never having to really learn and really use a foreign language they laugh at the mistakes of the person trying... Read more
Published on 21 July 2012 by Ransen Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars Time to Laugh out Loud!
A friend told me about how funny this book was and I agree entirely. It's not possible to read these stories without laughing, so definitely worth looking for a copy. Read more
Published on 19 July 2011 by P. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic
You need a New York jewish accent in your head to fully enjoy these stories. A Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for jews. Funny and clever. It still makes me laugh,
Published on 13 Feb 2011 by Magical Miss M
2.0 out of 5 stars A making-fun-of-people-who-are-not like-us book
This book describes the problems immigrants in New York at the beginning of the last century have when learning English. Read more
Published on 23 July 2010 by GunillaB
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, but not entertaining enough
I use the word 'nice' deliberately. The book is moderately funny in a safe way but the punchlines which end every chapter remind you of tea at your aunt's, where Doris made some... Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2004 by Maclennane
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