850 of 880 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A controversial masterpiece
Okay, we all know the plot, so there's no sense in rehashing it; but this book has generated a great deal of heat and very little light lately, it's been banned in some school districts and attacked as racist garbage, so this review will address the question: Is "Huckleberry Finn", in fact, a racist book?
The charge of racism stems from the liberal use of...
Published on February 10, 2000 by JLind555
59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shameful and pathetic...
It's shameful and pathetic that any publisher would presume to censor Mark Twain by sanitizing Huckleberry Finn as Barron's has done. I urge anyone who loves literature to boycott this travesty of an edition.
Published on January 5, 2011 by Bigmouth
Most Helpful First | Newest First
850 of 880 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A controversial masterpiece,
This review is from: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Konemann Classics) (Hardcover)Okay, we all know the plot, so there's no sense in rehashing it; but this book has generated a great deal of heat and very little light lately, it's been banned in some school districts and attacked as racist garbage, so this review will address the question: Is "Huckleberry Finn", in fact, a racist book?
The charge of racism stems from the liberal use of the N word in describing Jim. Some black parents and students have charged that the book is humiliating and demeaning to African-Americans and therefore is unfit to be taught in school. If there has been a racist backlash in the classroom, I think it is the fault of the readers rather than the book.
"Huckleberry Finn" is set in Missouri in the 1830's and it is true to its time. The narrator is a 13 year old, semi-literate boy who refers to blacks by the N-word because he has never heard them called anything else. He's been brought up to see blacks as slaves, as property, as something less than human. He gets to know Jim on their flight to freedom (Jim escaping slavery and Huck escaping his drunken, abusive father), and is transformed. Huck realizes that Jim is just as human as he is, a loving father who misses his children, a warm, sensitive, generous, compassionate individual. Huck's epiphany arrives when he has to make a decision whether or not to rescue Jim when he is captured and held for return to slavery. In the culture he was born into, stealing a slave is the lowest of crimes and the perpetrator is condemned to eternal damnation. By his decision to risk hell to save Jim, he saves his own soul. Huck has risen above his upbringing to see Jim as a friend, a man, and a fellow human being.
Another charge of racism is based on Twain's supposed stereotyping of Jim. As portrayed by Twain, Jim is hardly the ignorant, shuffling Uncle Tom that was so prevalent in "Gone With the Wind" (a book that abundantly deserves the charge of racism). Jim may be uneducated, but he is nobody's fool; and his dignity and nobility in the face of adversity is evident throughout the book.
So -- is "Huckleberry Finn" a racist book? No. It's of its time and for its time and ours as well, portraying a black man with sensitivity, dignity, and sympathy. If shallow, ignorant readers see Jim as a caricature and an object of derision, that's their problem. Hopefully they may mature enough in their lifetime to appreciate this book as one of the greatest classics of American literature.
And for those who might be wondering -- this reviewer is black.
98 of 104 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twain at his best!,
This review is from: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)Back during my school days this was still not a book that was considered to be politically incorrect and so I was supposed to read it. As was far too often the case, I got by on little more than watching the movie version and never bothered to read this masterpiece. A few months ago I picked up a copy to put in my library for my grandson to use when he got old enough to go to school. Unfortunately this has been classified as a children's book and so I had little intention of reading it when I bought it.
After discussing a book about President Grant and Mark Twain with a friend I decided that I should read this book and I soon found out just how much of an adventure I had been missing. Twain's well deserved reputation as a storyteller is on clear display in this book from cover to cover. The reader is drawn into the lives of the characters to the point of being really disturbed when something bad happens to them. Sure, they steal and they lie but you will love them in spite of everything.
The story basically follows the adventures of young Huckleberry Finn and a runaway slave named Jim. Finn is trying to escape has father and the efforts of the townspeople to civilize him while Jim is trying to escape slavery. More to the point, Jim is trying to escape being sold down the river, which was always a worry for slaves in the upper south.
There is a strong moral point to this book as Huck slowly learns to love Jim as a friend and not think of his skin color. Early on Huck is worried about helping a runaway slave and isn't sure what to do. Having been raised in Missouri, Huck has been taught that helping a slave run away is one of the worst sins imaginable and that African-Americans are pretty much worthless except as slaves. It takes a while for the truth to come to Huck but he finds that he is determined to help his friend get his freedom, no matter what. Huck ends up risking his own life to do just that.
This book is a pure joy to read and I suggest you read it without looking for a political agenda. Just let the story flow and enjoy each word. The dialects used may slow you down a bit at first but they add so much to the flow of the book that they are quite indispensable. This is a wonderful story, full of youthful innocence and backwoods charm. Just one little warning though, once you start reading you won't be able to put this book down.
59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Shameful and pathetic...,
This review is from: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The (Barron's Classic Novels) (Paperback)It's shameful and pathetic that any publisher would presume to censor Mark Twain by sanitizing Huckleberry Finn as Barron's has done. I urge anyone who loves literature to boycott this travesty of an edition.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:Unabridged and Illustrated,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Unabridged and Illustrated (Paperback)CLASSIC. I wanted a copy before new versions may be "abridged" to remove the "n" word. It's all a part of history at that time and is a classic to keep.
60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Audio CD of Classic,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (The Classic Collection) (Audio CD)Finally, a reading of a classic that is worth the money.
This story's narration covers a total of 9 Cds, and each disc has about 97 tracks (each track is only about 30 to 45 seconds). The good aspect of this is that it is quite easy to find your spot and, then pick up where you left off, if you happen to stop reading in the middle of a chapter. The negative aspect of short tracks is that it is difficult to skip around to particular chapters without "guessing" where a chapter might end (because there is no insert to tell which chapters are contained in each disc).
Overall, Dick Hill does a superb job of reading in this unabridged version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Hill's voice personifies Huck's narrative, and he keeps the Southern flavor of Twain's novel intact. What makes this reading particularly great is that Hill has a great ability to not only take on Huck, but other characters as well. Hill changes his voice for other characters such as Tom Sawyer, Jim, the Duke and the king, Pap and others. For this reason, this CD is a great tool for the reluctant readers in classes, and serves as a great supplement for the study of this novel.
I have found that buying audios to classic to be a gamble because you never really know what you are getting, but this is one of the best I've gotten.
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT!!,
This review is from: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Audio CD)I have to say that this is one of the best audiobooks I've ever heard; Patrick Fraley's voice characterizations are SO good I feel like I'm listening to a full cast!! His dialects are spot-on, and, as a child of the South land, I should know! Listeners should be aware that this is an UNabridged copy, and, as such, contains the word "[...]." The relationship between Huck and Jim, the escaped slave, is respectful, so the words seem to be just a product of both dialect and the verbage of the times.
In my opinion this is an incredibly enjoyable listen that shouldn't be missed.
40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely edition of a timeless classic,
This review is from: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: The only authoritative text based on the complete, original manuscript (Mark Twain Library) (Paperback)Not only is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn a brilliant and funny story of an adolescent boy, it is the story of an adolescent nation: the United States circa 1885. It raises broad, moral questions whose answers still elude us today, as it addresses the question of slavery in terms that are deeply personal, moral, political, social and economic.
Through Huck and the fugitive slave Jim, Twain looks at important issues of marginality, not just for people of color, but for people of all sorts who live outside of social norms, either by accident of race and class, by virtue of fate, or by a choice they have made. Some are outlaws and con men. Others are honest souls whose luck just ran out. Still others are merely independent-minded people who refuse to bend to stereotypes of race, class and gender. All share circumstances that put them outside of the societal norm and onto the road less traveled.
The first great novel that was written in the vernacular, this novel has been criticized for its use of slang and pejoratives, especially for its liberal use of "the n word." For me, it's important to remember that Twain was reflecting the language of the times and of the social class that Huck came from, as it is he who narrates the story. While I understand the objections, in the end, for me, they do not hold up if the choice is between reading or not reading this great American classic.
I adored this book at age 7 and again at age 19 when I read it in college. And I continue to adore it as an adult, for each time I read Huck Finn something different and important is revealed to me. I can't recommend this book highly enough and think that there is no better time to (re)read it than on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of its publication.
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Edition of a Classic Work,
This review is from: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Third Edition) (Norton Critical Editions) (Paperback)Mark Twain's 1885 novel, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," has had a long history, during which it has been and still is both reviled and celebrated. Essentially the story of the picaresque travels and adventures of a young Missouri boy and his friend Jim, a runaway slave, in 1840's America. Taking cues from books like "Don Quixote" and Jonathan Swift's works, and a fraught relationship to Sir Walter Scott's historical romances and those of his protege, James Fenimore Cooper, Twain constructs a masterful first person narrative, through the eyes of 14 year old Huckleberry and a profound and hilarious satire on American culture.
"Huckleberry Finn" begins in tension - Huckleberry's fortune and wardship with the well-meaning widow Douglas has him in a bind. The widow wants to 'sivilize' him, taking him out of the happy go lucky, easy going lifestyle he loves, while his fortune of six thousand dollars has him living in perpetual anxiety of his father, a violent drunkard whose absence only makes Huck more anxious about his return. When Huck's pap does return, sure enough, Huck is remanded, more or less, to Pap's custody, and kept prisoner in a secluded cabin. Though he is no longer being 'sivilized,' his time with Pap becomes more and more tense and lonely, driving Huck to stage his own death and run away from Pap and from civilization. Early in his escape, on a small island in the Mississippi River, he meets Jim, a slave from his town of St. Petersburg, who has run away, planning to raise money in the north to buy his family out of slavery. Together, Jim and Huck form a friendship that will take them up and down and all around the Mississippi River.
"Huckleberry Finn" deals with a great many social issues, and none more interestingly than with conventional morality. With Huck, he effectively creates an outside position from which to view American culture as he sees it, with all of its pretentions and faults. Huck doesn't put much stock in widow Douglass' or Miss Watson's strictly defined notions of religion or morality - throughout the novel, we see him in constant conflict with himself over the fine line between what is considered right and wrong, and what is accepted as such. Huck's inner negotiations with prayer and morality, good and evil, are at the heart of the novel. His post-Emersonian, proto-Nietzschean manner of dealing with himself and his relationship to society is fascinating and compelling. His relationship with the runaway slave Jim, of course, is also a focal point of the novel - the ways in which Jim and Huck depend on and care for each other is both moving and of course, socially and politically suggestive and significant, especially in the historical context of the novel, both the setting, prior to the Civil War, and its published era, at the tail end of Reconstruction. Those who would be offended by racial epithets in common parlance during this time period would be advised to take historical context into account before railing against the novel's racial politics - if one gets unduly caught up in nitpicking such things, one falls into the trap of the satire, become a target in the process.
As satire or black comedy, "Huckleberry Finn" has at every moment the ability to make us laugh out loud at ourselves and at the situations in the novel - from the fraudulent actions of the King and the Duke, to Tom Sawyer's needlessly elaborate scheme to free Jim from slavery, to well-born cultured families feuding, to all the cross-dressing that goes on in the novel (and there is a lot of it!). Again, though, as black comedy, we may often catch ourselves laughing, then wondering, hey, that isn't very funny - this is the brilliance of Twain's artistic achievement; to make us laugh while looking critically at ourselves. A book that is uniquely American, Twain's humour, wit, and style contribute to give us a look at both Antebellum and post-Reconstruction America through the eyes of innocence and experience, to see how far the nation had come since the days of Washington, and how far it still had (and has) to go.
This 1998 Norton Critical Third edition of "Huckleberry Finn" is truly amazing. It restores the entire text from the manuscript, including among other things, the "Raftsman's episode" and all of the original illustrations. The supplementary materials in this edition are top-shelf also, with excerpts covering the controversy surrounding the novel, from its publication to the present. The critical selections are excellent as well, especially the incisive and yet startlingly personal essays by T.S. Eliot and Toni Morrison. This is probably the best current edition out there of this tremendous, and tremendously complicated American classic.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At least the children can write, a little...,
This review is from: Adventures of Huck Finn Cassette (Audio Cassette)It amuses me no end to see so many irate reviews, obviously written by spoiled schoolkids resenting their stoopid 'ol teacher making them read this stoopid 'ol book by some stoopid 'ol dead guy.
There's rich material there for a cynic like Twain, or even more for one the likes of Ambrose Bierce or H. L. Mencken. Tiny, immature, ill formed minds incapable of grasping a truth deeper than Nintendo or Playstation lash out in outrage at a genius who holds up a mirror to expose their ignorance.
The fact is, this is THE American experience of the 19th century, a microcosm of the defining characteristic of our country's beginning and of our national shame and curse. How did a nation, conceived in liberty, holding self evident so many truths about Man's rights, institutionalize the degredation of Black Americans, the utter denial of their very humanity? How could the noble idealistic American eagle ever swallow such a poisonous pill?
Huck's bitter determination to "go to hell" in order to save his friend Jim is to me the most moving and courageous moment in all literature. Huck "knows" that Jim is not really human, that he is mere property, that he has no rights and deserves no consideration, and that Huck's social duty is to return the slave owner's lost property. Yet he knows even more deeply that Jim is his friend, mentor, companion, and in not saving him he will lose his own soul, regardless of what his society holds to be true. Thus Huck makes himself an outcast and outlaw in civilized society, and thus he prefigures the cataclysm of the Civil War, in which this vile contradiction nearly destroyed our nation. All the blood spilled during that war, however, has not expunged our Original Sin, and we have been paying for it ever since, and perhaps always shall.
So try to expand your mind, at least accept the concept that the past is not a Real World episode in period costume, that people of another time did think and talk and act differently, that what "everybody knows" today will surely be as ludicrous a century hence as slavery may seem to us now. Reflect, also, on the courage of those who recognized evil ahead of their time and stood up to it, even though in this case such a hero is a fictionalized semi-literate boy.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the one.,
This review is from: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Unabridged and Illustrated (Paperback)UPDATE/BUYER ALERT! (The below review is for the UNABRIDGED AND ILLUSTATED copy. Amazon is using this review on a different version of the book too).
If you are going to buy the book Huckleberry Finn, then this is the one you want.
Other than being in paperback, this is the original version of the Mark Twain classic.
It's basically a photographic copy of how the book appeared when it was first published in 1885.
For me, reading this book and viewing the illustrations, while thinking to myself, "this is exactly what those first readers saw and read 127 years ago", makes this book that much more special.
Most Helpful First | Newest First
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bantam Classic) by Mark Twain (Mass Market Paperback - March 1, 1981)