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The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N Paperback – March 20, 1968
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Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, those rules only rarely coincide with those of grammar, spelling and pronunciation. And so he eternally flunks the beginners' grade in English despite awing both friend and foe.
What moves me to write a review is what the other reviewers seem to miss: H*Y*M*A*N, for all his mistakes, is a winner of a character, not a loser. This book is true testimony to the talents of immigrants as well as their tribulations.
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.
The stories all revolve around a group of immigrant adults attending the American Night Preparatory School for Adults in New York City in the 1930s. Under the tutelage of the fastidious, but patient and kind, Mr. Parkhill, the book chronicles their challenges in learning the English language. This is in and of itself a masterpiece: Leo Rosten (who had to publish the stories under a pseudonym since he wrote them while living off a fellowship and did not want to let his professors know that he was working on totally unrelated research) has found humor in GRAMMAR!! He not only shows how difficult English is to master, but how irrational and arbitrary the grammatical rules are that we all, as students, desperately try to commit to memory. Moreover, he writes with an expert ear, hearing the subtle differences in the accents and common foibles of English speakers from various language backgrounds. The fact that these passages are life-out-loud funny (and not at all in the sense of laughing at any character's mistakes but at the English language itself for torturing non-native speakers so) is astounding enough.
But this is the story, however, of a true comic hero - Hyman Kaplan.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A step back in time (1930's) when immigrants came to America to assimilate. Humor and love for those aspirants. Leo Rosten wrote a wonderful book which we can relate to. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Florence S. Neis
All time fav, but I gave it as a gift. Read it in the 60's & never forgot.Published 6 months ago by Douglas Howard
Story about immigrants during the 1930's in America and how difficult it is to learn English. Funny, entertaining and heartwarming at the same time.Published 8 months ago by Faye M. Salomone
Hilarious! I taught English as a Second Language and many of the characters are spot on.Published 9 months ago by Charles
This is a wonderful, light-hearted romp about some of the experiences of the many European immigrants after WWII as they struggle to assimilate and adapt to life in America. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Valerie K. Lerman