Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Audiobook)

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Read by Elijah Wood

“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain’s sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, became an instant success in the year of its publication, 1884, but was seen by some as unfit for children to read because of its language, grammar, and “uncivilized hero.” The book has sparked controversy ever since, but most scholars continue to praise it as a modern masterpiece, an essential read, and one of the greatest novels in all of American literature. Twain’s satiric treatment of racism, religious excess, and rural simplicity and his accuracy in presenting dialects mark Huck Finn as a classic. His unswerving confidence in Huck’s wisdom and maturity, along with the well-rounded and sympathetic portrayal of Jim draw readers into the book, holding them until Huck’s last words rejecting all attempts to “sivilize” him.”

Mark Twain wrote Huck Finn as a sequel to Tom Sawyer. His original plan was to follow Huck into adulthood but after working on the book for several years he lost interest. When he eventually came back to Huck’s story, he abandoned his idea of telling Huck’s life story and decided instead to write it as a sort of continuation of Tom Sawyer.

Personally, of the two, Huck Finn is by far my favorite. I never really liked Tom. He’s just… annoying. Meanwhile, I find Huck fascinating. He has much more common sense than Tom. He’s deep down a better person I think, than Tom. Sure, he lies and “borrows” but he hates to hurt anyone’s feelings and he has a strong conscience. Even when he logically disagrees with his conscience due to the social constraints of the time period, emotionally, he tends to know what’s right and what isn’t.

It’s been years and years since I read Huck Finn; probably close to twenty years or more. But I read a review online the other day that mentioned this audio edition read by Elijah Wood. I hightailed it to audible.com as fast as possible and bought it. I listen to a lot of audiobooks on my iPod since I drive so much for work. At over ten hours long, this was almost four days worth of listening.

I’m a fan of Twain’s writing. He describes things so well. He uses commonplace descriptions to allow the reader to draw the picture in their head of the scene he’s creating. He also strikes a nice balance between narration and dialogue. I love the fact that Huck tells his own story from his own point of view as well. Twain really brings Huck, as well as the other characters, to life. And listening to Elijah Wood read the story… it was like I was riding down the highway with Huck sitting in the front seat next to me. And the story has laugh out loud funny moments. There were whole sections where I laughed like a fool driving down the road. I can also admit that there were some times that I cried.

Wood did an amazing job with the different accents and dialects that Twain gave his characters. At first I was very aware that I was listening to Elijah Wood but after just a few minutes, it stopped being Elijah and became Huck and Jim and Tom and even Pap.

Huck had it rough there’s no doubt. His Pap was abusive. He felt unloved. He considered himself to be stupid and eventually he came to question his own morals and character. He never sat down and felt too sorry for himself though. He dealt with adversity and made his way the best way he could. Though we know today that Huck had character and morals to spare, in those days he considered himself very close to a traitor to his race for his actions to help Jim. He struggled with his own conscience and the differences between what he felt in his heart was right and what he had been taught was right.

Huck Finn has created controversy for years and years. It is the fourth most banned book in the United States. It has been considered obscene, immoral and racist. As usual, the censors have it all wrong. Twain tells a story of a boy who is anti-racist in a time when it would cause him to be ostracized by society. Because of the use of the “N-word” throughout the book, people assume it must be racist but in actuality Twain used the language and vernacular of the time. If anyone doesn’t read this excellent example of classic American literature because of the use of a word they disagree with, they are missing out.

Audiobook
Published November 9th 2010 by Audible, Inc (first published 1884 in England, first published 1885 in US)
ASIN B004BDL7N6

5 stars

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

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1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die by Peter Boxall

“From Aesop’s Fables to Zeno’s Conscience and from Achebe to Zola, 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die offers concise critical insight into the books and the writers that have excited the world’s imagination. From Billy Bathgate, Billy Bud, and Billy Liar to Calvino, Camus, and Coetzee, here you’ll find the big ideas and the best-sellers. From the popular drama of Louisa May Alcott to the stomach-turning cult fiction of Chuck Palahniuk, you’ll find the writing that has made the world over and over again.”

Discover the stories behind the adjectives: Dickensian, Kafkaesque, Rabelaisian and the writers behind the stories. From the dark recesses of Marquis de Sade’s jail cell to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, from The Awakening and Enigma of Arrival to The End of the Road and The End of the Story, explore the greatest novels of all time.

A must have for all book lovers. I’ve only read a fraction of the books listed here but I’m definitely planning to work my way through the list. The essays about the books and/or authors are also very interesting.

Hardcover
960 pages
Published March 7th 2006 by Universe (first published 2006)
ISBN13: 9780789313706

Jane Eyre

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

“Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.”

I’ve always felt like I should read more “classics” but I’ve always found some excuse not to read them. So, I decided this year I’d read some. Plus, it’ll help me check off more of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

I really enjoyed this book. Bronte tells a wonderful story. I particularly like the way the author has Jane acknowledge us, the readers, as she narrates the tale. I will definitely be picking up some other classics over the next year and I’ll probably be adding Jane Eyre into my rotation of books that I read annually. I finally decided to read it after I saw the preview for the 2011 movie starring Mia Wasikowska and then my bff told me that it was one of her favorite books ever. I recommend a lot of books to her so I figured if she loved Jane I’d give it a shot and I’m glad I did.

Paperback
659 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by HarperTeen (first published 1847)
ISBN13: 9780062015624

5 stars