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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (Collins Classics)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2012
Really enjoyed this book, very amusing and entertaining, nice easy read when you want to relax.This is a classic,and is worth reading again even if you have read it before.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2012
The book is not too colorful and not too big. Instead, it has a very readable print for a 6 year-old who is now intensely practicing his reading. Though he likes books about transformers and other similar stuff, his favorite reading book is this one. I am very happy with the choice. Good value for money.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 24 August 2011
Was really looking forward to listening to this with the kids on a car journey, but was truely disappointed with ridiculous accents. The quality of the recording was fine as were the sound effects, but the accents of the actors were truely cringe-worthy. Kids not as bothered as I was.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 23 April 2011
whats so sad is that it is such a great story but so badly told, i gave up and turned it off after about 5 mins. the voices are fake and the sound effects are rubbish-i would rather listen to a times tables CD than this! the only thing that was good was how amazon sent it so fast in the post. I would really reccomend the 'twins at st. clairs' CD instead!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2002
True, this novel is over the heads of many high school English students. This is the "darkest" American novel I know of, which is probably one of the reasons that induced Hemingway to say that American literature begins and ends here. Like Conrad's Marlowe, Huck is journeying "upriver" into a region of the human psyche best left unobserved by any but the most stalwart heart. His eyes are opened on the voyage. His ultimate character is shaped by what he experiences. His is a passage from naivete to wide-opened observer.What begins as an idyllic raft trip turns more and more turbulent the closer to Illinois he gets. What begins as a Tom Sawyer lark becomes more and more Faulknerian. Yes,it is a voyage from inexperience to experience.
Yes, it is a quest story. Yes, it is a novel about man's inhumanity to man, etc. etc. But there is so much more at work here..Twain shared much in common with Swift. We are looking primarily at the underbelly of humanity here, not its bright spots.
The ending, as pointed out by numerous critics,is problematical. Exactly what is Huck's position vis-a-vis Jim? Has all that has occured previously been given up in the moment he is counseled by Tom? Is Huck so ready to overthrow his hard-fought allegiance in order to conform to society's dictums? Twain offers no clear resolution, but this should not keep this novel from being taught in secondary shools or University classrooms, when students are given the liberty to consrtuct their own conclusions.
Personally, I believe what Twain is telling us is that we can never exhibit our true natures in society without risking being stoned to death. Conventional pressures have not really changed that much from Twain's day to the present. Just by espousing my support for this novel I am opening myself up to criticism aimed my way from the righteously correct.
Society hasn't changed all that much. Religious piety and indignation has been supplanted by political correctness. Harriet Beacher Stowe, bless her, is alive and well. There are people out there convinced that Uncle Tom's Cabin is a more significant work than Huck Finn. What would Vonnegut say here?
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At the end of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, we left Huck Finn, now comfortably well-off, being 'sivilised' by the Widow Douglas. But when Huck's Pap comes back, wanting to get his hands on Huck's new-found wealth, Huck finds himself at his father's mercy, locked up in their shanty and subjected to beatings. So he hatches a plan to escape. Meantime, Miss Watson's slave Jim has decided to run away because he's overheard Miss Watson say she's going to sell him down to Orleans. When the two meet up they decide to throw in their lots with each other and set off down the Mississippi on a raft. This is the story of their adventures. (Please note there are some spoilers in this review on the basis that almost everyone will already know the story.)

I am currently reading my way through some of the classics of American literature as part of a 'quest' on my blog to find the Great American Novel. There was always going to come a point at least once in the quest when I would hit a book that didn't seem to me to live up to its reputation. Sadly, this is that book. I'm quite sure that if I had read it not knowing of its status, it would never have occurred to me to rank this as anything more than a fairly enjoyable adventure yarn - showing its age, certainly, but with a fair amount of satirical humour.

However, even reviewing it as an adventure, I found it compared unfavourably to its predecessor. The few chapters at the beginning are pretty much a reprise of Tom Sawyer, with the gang again getting together to play at being robbers, and much of the humour here is simply a repeat of the first novel. The next section - Huck's cruel treatment at the hands of his father - is treated so lightly that it didn't generate any real emotion in me; and Huck's pretence at having being murdered in order to escape is again very similar to what happened in the previous book.

Once Jim and Huck get together, the story improves greatly for a while and the first section of their journey is the best bit of the book, as we see these two unlikely companions begin to form bonds of affection and loyalty. It's here that Twain shows most clearly through Huck's narration the acceptance of slavery as an almost unthinking norm in the society he's portraying, and we get brief flashes of Jim as a real person when he tells about how he will be separated from his wife and children if he's sold.

Then unfortunately the two con-artists - the Duke and the King - come on the scene and from there on the whole thing seems to lose any narrative drive. To be honest, while at first it seemed clear that Huck and Finn were heading north to the free States, after this mid-way point I had no clear idea what their plan was, if they had one. The book, like the raft, seems to drift aimlessly as we are given little humorous set-pieces at each of the towns they visit. But not humorous enough, I'm afraid, to compensate for the repetitiveness of the section nor for the overdrawn caricatures of these two characters.

When Tom finally re-appears, the story picks up for a bit as they each take on false identities to fool Tom's unsuspecting aunt. But then we get to the long-drawn out and frankly tedious final section where, instead of rescuing Jim, Tom goes off into another of his fantasies and stretches the whole thing out to an extent where I found I was beginning to skim whole chapters in a desperate bid to get to the end.

So as a novel, I'm afraid this would rate no more than 3 stars for me.

Trying to look at it a bit more deeply as a contender for Great American Novel status, the two things that are most often mentioned are the innovative use of dialect and the satirical look at attitudes towards slavery. Certainly, the dialect is done wonderfully well - Twain never misses a beat, and makes each voice not only distinct, but an unmistakeable indicator of the different class each character occupies. So Tom's voice clearly shows he's of a better class and level of education than Huck, while Jim and the other slaves share a dialect all of their own - a dialect that is recognisable from most of the early Hollywood films portraying slavery, such as Gone With the Wind. This made me wonder if the dialect was authentic, or a Twain creation that influenced later culture. Either way, it's a virtuoso performance from Twain and certainly raises the artistic level of the novel. (Honestly, though, I found it irritating after a while - frequently having to re-read Jim's dialogue to catch the meaning. Perhaps that's my Britishness showing through.)

I found the slavery question more complex, oddly because Twain makes it seem so simple. He makes the tolerance of slavery a universal thing, accepted unquestioningly by everyone in the novel. I found this unconvincing - the book is set only a couple of decades before the Civil War, and surely there would have been more shades of grey over it, even in the South, by that period? Also, although he shows the basic inhumanity and emotional cruelty of one man owning another, somehow he also shows the owners as fundamentally good-natured and mostly quite kind to the slaves. I'm sure that was also true of some owners, but I'm equally sure there was a lot more physical cruelty and abuse than this novel suggests. It all seemed strangely sanitised, especially since the point was presumably to show the plain wrongness of the practice. And, while there's no doubt every character in the book regardless of colour is displayed as, shall we say, intellectually challenged, the slaves really do come off as almost terminally stupid. It felt almost as if Twain was really highlighting something more akin to animal cruelty than endorsing any suggestion of true equality between the races, and as a result left me feeling quite uncomfortable. I really, really wanted Jim to tell Tom and Huck to grow up and stop messing him about, rather than to continue metaphorically wagging his tail at his masters, as he did even once he discovered that he had been a free man, while Tom indulged his own selfishness.

Hmm..I'm guessing you can tell I wasn't convinced by this one...sadly, for me, it doesn't achieve Great American Novel status.
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on 16 December 2013
Lets be honest, most kids books, like most adults books, are stupefyingly bad. Even most of the better ones do little more than give a sentimental warm feeling before bedtime.
But there are a precious few that genuinely enrich your childhood, and even broaden your mind and your spirit for the rest of your life, and this is one of those.

I can still see why, if I was black, I would have difficulty reading this to my kids. Not so much because of the n-word, but because the portrayal of Jim certainly starts off with plenty of the old "lordy-lordy!" type of stereotypical stuff. (The book is written from Huck's perspective - he is the narrator - and this basically is his perception of black people at the start of the book. It is only as the story progresses that he gradually realises how stupid this perception is.) But it also has to be acknowledged that although the book is ultimately anti-racist, it is still written from a white person's perspective ( inevitable given Twain was a white person) and so, for example, Jim is somewhat substantially more passive than an actual escaped slave would be. It is a more problematic text for a black reader than some of the reviewers on here would acknowledge, and it would be tricky too for a teacher reading it to a class.

But it is nevertheless a truly great book - funny, romantic, insightful, gripping, and basically just rich in robust, vital humanity. Twain passes on plenty of his experience of life and of people in this book, and he does without too much in the way of sanitising or disneyfying ( so if your preconceptions of this book are coloured by some of the godawful TV movie versions, you'll get a pleasant surprise).
This is a book that has the heart and courage to take your imagination out into a big wide world with plenty of the ugly, beautiful, contradictory real world in it.
Its a genuine classic, and maybe even the best of that small group that really are childrens' classics.
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on 8 September 2013
Huckleberry Finn escapes his alcoholic father and teams up with runaway slave Jim in this story of their adventures along the Mississippi river in mid-19th century America. Both Huck and Jim are searching for a new life. Huck has good intentions but no heart for the education or religion which would be his fate if he returns to the pious sisters who have offered him a stable home. Jim, having learned that he is to be sold to a new owner and separated from his family, wants to earn an income with which he can buy the freedom of his wife and children. They hunt and fish on an island near their hometown before setting off on a raft when they discover that their hideout is about to be searched.

Twain had the brilliant idea of making Huck Finn the narrator of the novel. The 14-year-old is so innocent and naïve that his deadpan accounts of the hypocrisy and callousness of life along the river have made the book a hilarious adventure story that appeals to children as well as a realistic report that influenced the style of subsequent American literature and a social critique that has kept academics analysing its content.

The dialects of Huck, Jim and the other Mississippi characters who come in and out of focus in this picaresque novel provide additional local colour and flair. The last quarter of the novel, in which a puerile and cruel Tom Sawyer returns as the main character, is disappointing in terms of the story's evolution, but does serve to illustrate how far Huck and Jim had evolved and how backward Tom remains. Perhaps this part is best understood as Twain's effort to highlight how little attitudes have changed from the pre-Civil War period in which the novel is set to the mid-1880s when it was published.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I read this book as a child and thoroughly enjoyed it as a ripping adventure story. I'm now seventy and decided to read it again. This time, I found that it is one of those two-level stories, fine for children to dash through and absolutely marvellous for adults to take the time to enjoy Twain's wonderful prose. His treatment of the slavery issue is non-judgemental and matter-of-fact. It reflects things as they were at that time. The final chapters regarding Jim's escape are extremely funny and made me laugh so loudly that I woke my wife up. No mean feat.
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on 17 October 2014
Ashamed to say that I had reached my 60s before actually reading the whole of Huckleberry Finn (after having read Tom Sawyer, also for the first time, and you do need to have read that first). I hadn't realised how good a story-teller Mark Twain was, and if you haven't already done so I would thoroughly recommend them to you. OK, the world is rightly more politically correct now and you have to remember the culture that Twain was writing into, but even this is something of an eye-opener on the white-black divide in Mississippi at the time, but with a good deal of humour mixed in. The story requires you to suspend reality checks to some extent; for example, Huck is totally uneducated and in his early teens, but seems to have an excellent grasp of the geography along the river; perhaps he had just hitched rides on the riverboats and kept his ears open. Unlike 'Tom Sawyer', this book is written in first-person and with phonetic spelling; you just have to read with a Deep South accent!

The loss of one star is for the Kindle version, which had an irritatingly large number of words joined together - e.g. 'I tellyouifI catchyoumeddlingwithhimagain' - which you become surprisingly quick at decoding but was a bit wearing.

If you've not read it - now's your chance.
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