Sunday, May 8, 2011

Book 14-The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

I have just finished Book 14- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It was a fast read and an engaging story. After reading so many 800+ page novels this short childrens story practically flew by. I enjoyed the book for the adventure but didn't find anything of too great substance in it. I suppose that makes sense given the inscription at the front of the book. "Person's attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banaished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot" !!!

I didn't realize before I read the book, that I didn't know anything about it. I had assumed since I recognized the name and knew of parts of Tom Sawyer that the story would seem familiar but it wasn't. I loved the adventure where Huckleberry Finn floats down the river with a slave that has escaped from the family that took him in. It seemed like such a great adventure.

I was particularly excited about the whole story because two summers ago I drove by Mark Twain's boyhood home in Missouri and also took a steam boat tour on the Mississippi river. I could picture the river as it was described in the book. I also loved that it was written in a variety of dialects because my favorite part of being in St. Louis was listening to the accents from the south. I think that Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) did a fabulous job with writing out the dialect. I could here the talk in my head.

The beginning of the book describes Tom Sawyer and his gang of pirates that he starts up. He sees things that arent' there and tells the boys that they can't see them because of an enchantment and referes to Don Quixote when he mentions this. I am beginning to discover the more I read off of this list that they are truly a part of culture, as this isn't the first book that has mentioned another of the ones I have read.

(photo of the muddy mississippi)

I found a few good quotes in the book including these:

Speaking of the widow's (who took him in) God:

"I thought it all out, and reckoned I would belong to the widows, if He wanted, though I couldn't make out how He was a-going to be any better off than what He was before, seeing I was so ignorant and so kind of low down and ornery"

There were two fantastic quotes about having a conscience that I loved:

"whether you do right or wrong, a person's conscience ain't got no sense and just goes for him anyway" This was tlaking about someone else doing wrong and Huck feeling bad just by watching it.

"It takes up more room than all the rest of a person's insides and yet ain't no good, no how"

The book has a lot to say about Slavery but it says it mostly subtely through Huck's actions in defending Jim and fighting for him. Jim is shown to be a stellar guy as well by how he looks after Huck. It is still appalling to think that people are bought and sold even today (in other parts of the world but also in Canada and the US through the sex trade which is often referred to as modern day slavery).

Jim said this quote of himself which I liked:

"I owns myself, en I's wuth eight hund'd dollars"

The last thing I have noticed about the last two books is they have had a lot to say about war. I guess I have been thinking about it a bit lately what with Osama Bin Laden's death so they have perhaps stood out more.

Here is quote from Huckleberry Finn that rang true for me:

"The pitifulest thing out is a mob. That's what an army is-a mob. They don't fight with courage that born in them, but with courage that's borrowed from their mass"

There was a good one in Anna Karenina as well that I will quote now. I didn't in the last review because I thought I was rambling on a bit too long!

"He cold not agree because, he in common with the people, did not know and could not know wherin lay the general welfare, though he knew beyond a doubt that this welfare could only be achieved by strict observance of that law of right and wrong which has been revealed to every man, and therefore he could not wish for war or advocate for war for any public advantage.

I am on to Book 15 which is Tom Jones. I leave for the UK in a little over a month and really want to be reading the next novel which is Great Expectations while there so I will try to motor through this one, at a steady clip. Watch my blog for the update and also for my day to day blog from the road. Although my blog is a book blog, it is also a travel blog as well.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Book 13-Anna Karenina

Wow! I am stunned. I liked most of the book, but I LOVED the ending.I have always loved Russian novels (having read Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy)but never figured out why until now. I have discovered that the reason I like Russian novels so much is that I find there faith real and down to earth. Although all the Russian novels I have read have a Christian theme to it, the books are about real people, with real struggles living life in a difficult world....I like that.

I wasn't sure what I would think about Anna Karnina with the topic being a woman who was pursuing adultery and ending in suicide (hope thats not a spoiler as I am pretty sure that is common knowledge) but I enjoyed it. I have always experienced joy so immense that it makes me want to scream at the top of my lungs when faced with things so true they resonate with my soul. The last 50 pages of this book was like that for me, and I don't even know where to begin to talk about my favorite parts.

I suppose I will start with one of the themes of the book about the difference between love and lust. Levin and Kitty's real love is contrasted with Vronsky and Anna's lust which is a fire that burns them up and destroys them. Levin and Kitty in comparasion are a beautiful example of a love that brings meaning to their lives. There are some fantastic quotes sprinkled through the book on love. Here are just a few:

"Love is like scarlet fever-one has to go through it to get over it. Then they ought to find a way of being inoculated against love, like vaccinated for small pox"

"I've always loved you, and if one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be"

"She spoke with that gleeful knowing smile with which women often talk of the secret characteristics known only to them, of the man they love"

I love this quote! It is so true that there is great joy in knowing someone better than anyone else. There is also great joy in finding teh good in someone when the world can only see the faults.

The last one is so sad to me, but I think it is too true:

"That's why most of us prefer our claras, the women of the demi monde. If you don't succeed with them it only means you've note enough cash; but with the others its our merits that are weighed in the balance"

There are several good quotes about the affair and what it feels like to sin in a horrible way against another person.

"He felt what a murderer must feel when he looks at the body he has robbed of life"

This quote was said of Vronsky the first time Anna and he commit adultery.

"Shame at her spiritual nakedness crushed her and infected him"

"We all want what is sweet, what is nice. If we can't have bon bons, then dirty icecream"

My favorite part of the whole book was Levin's spiritual journey back to faith. The main essence of the book can be summed up in Levin's confusion about the meaning of life.

"I cannot live, without knowing what I am and why I am here"

When Kitty married Levin her dad was concerned that he wasn't a Christian. Kitty wasn't worried about this because she saw his soul and knew that he was on the right path. The quote that was said of her, is probably my favorite in the whole book.

"Through her love she knew his whole soul, and in his sould she saw what she wanted"

I LOVE that. Can I just say that I am in love with Levin too?! He is such an excellent man, in this book that if he actually lived and breathed I am sure that I would hunt him down and pursue him!! I was so glad when he was finally able to come to rest on what he believed. Levin's faith was simple he knew that he had always known what was right and wrong and when he submitted to God he finally felt at peace with the world. It was a peasant who finally made the point that opened his eyes:

"Fokanic is an upright old man. He thinks of his soul. He does not forget God"

My favorite quote Levin utters about his new found faith is this:

"I have come to the recognition of that Power that not only in the past gave me life, but now too gives me life. I have been set free from fallacy, I have found the Master".

The whole last 50 pages made me so happy. I would highly recommend this book to anyone. There are so many parts that are beautifully portrayed. Kittys child birth experience, Levin's love for working the land and the joy that comes with it, and the real, raw emotions of both Anna and Vronsky in the situation they find themselves in

I am on to The Adventure of Hucklebery Finn now. I am sure that I will not be as happy at the end with that book, although the story will be good.