- Publisher: Pan Books; First Printing edition (1961)
- ASIN: B0035U8CH0
- Package Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 296 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,077,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Education of Hyman Kaplan Paperback – 1961
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This book is absolutely great. Taking place entirely within the confines of an English class for prospective American citizens, it captures the essence of a remarkable generation of immigrants. Of course, this is not a sociology book. It is good-natured humor, and a good look at human nature. Anyone with a sense of humor will enjoy this book, and if you are any kind of linguist it is even better. The poor souls in the beginners class are characters for the ages, including, of course, the inimitable and irrepressible H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N. This book is warm and humorous with no ridicule or mean-spiritedness at all. If written today it might be characterized as belittling to immigrants, but anyone who reads it in its true spirit will find it enjoyable and uplifting.
Recommended to everyone who loves people and is interested in language and enjoys genuine humor..
The humor isn't vicious, exactly, but it's patronizing, and of course the scorn is misplaced. Any Jewish immigrant from Europe in the 30s would have almost certainly spoken more than one language; all the folks of my grandparents' generation spoke Yiddish and Hebrew in addition to one or two European languages. No reason to look down on them because their pronunciation of English was funny. This kind of humor is gentle on the surface but underneath it's cruel and unfair, the way the Three Stooges is superficially funny because guys hitting each other is funny but at a deeper level it's about parodying the yokel ways of untutored immigrants. Malapropisms are funny when little children make them. Making fun of foreigners earnestly trying to learn the language of their new country, which they've reached after God knows what hardship, just doesn't strike me as cute.