This approach to the history of Victorian England is unusual; the subject is divided into sections such as "Ladies, Gentlemen, and Others" and "The LaThis approach to the history of Victorian England is unusual; the subject is divided into sections such as "Ladies, Gentlemen, and Others" and "The Labouring Nation," but after the author introduces the topic and gives a summary of it, he turns to primary sources to illustrate. Excerpts from Dickens' writing, as well as from other authors, reformers, essayists and politicians, bring the culture of the time to life. The structure means it's not quite so good as reference material, but in itself it's enjoyable reading....more
I liked this better when I was a kid. I still love Huck's voice and perspective, and his adventures on the raft with Jim are fun. But the parts with tI liked this better when I was a kid. I still love Huck's voice and perspective, and his adventures on the raft with Jim are fun. But the parts with the "duke" and the "king" really grated on me this time around. I love stories about con men, grifters, who use their talents to get justice outside the law. These guys are just selfish hacks preying on the innocent and stupid. Worse, Huck and Jim are defenseless against them. One of my favorite moments is when Huck finally takes a stand against them to protect some young ladies they're trying to cheat out of their inheritance--because Huck turns that cunning back on the king and the duke to trick them.
Still, what really pissed me off, what made me furious, was Tom Sawyer waltzing in and forcing Huck and Jim to act out all these prisoner-escape stories he's read about. Here's Jim sitting captive in a shed, waiting to be sold down the river, and with Tom's help they could have sprung him any time, but no, Tom Sawyer has plans. All the time I was reading that last quarter of the book, I couldn't stop thinking about Jim's fate and how stupid it was that they were wasting time to pander to Tom's rich fantasy life. It works out in the end, but even that's a little infuriating: (view spoiler)[Tom knew the whole time that Jim was actually free, manumitted by his owner on her deathbed, so all his cockamamie plans really were just for fun. But naturally it would spoil his fun to tell Huck or Jim the truth, since they wouldn't go along with it if they knew the escape was unnecessary. I had no idea Tom was so selfish. (hide spoiler)]. I have such fond memories of this book that I really hated to have them spoiled in this reading.["br"]>["br"]>...more
I couldn't believe how much I liked this book. I thought it would be your typical early-20th-century Anglocentric sexist thinly-veiled allegory of WesI couldn't believe how much I liked this book. I thought it would be your typical early-20th-century Anglocentric sexist thinly-veiled allegory of Western cultural dominance. Then I got over myself. Like H. Rider Haggard (a near-contemporary of Burroughs, and probably a more direct influence on the Barsoom novels than Jules Verne or H.G. Wells) Edgar Rice Burroughs has some attitudes that modern readers find uncomfortable, but in the context of his time, he's a remarkably liberal thinker.
John Carter is strong but generous of spirit, a powerful warrior but respectful of women, a staunch defender of what he believes to be right, and completely aware of his weaknesses instead of pretending they don't exist. I think his personality is best defined by how he becomes a "chieftain" among the green Martians totally by accident. Among the Martians, status is gained by killing other warriors, usually only for that purpose; John Carter kills to defend himself and then others, completely unaware of how green Martian society works, but doesn't change his behavior once he learns the truth--even though gaining status would help both him and Dejah Thoris, the titular princess. His falling in love with her is so sweet--there's something very touching about a strong man who's completely at a loss before the woman he loves.
Burroughs's world building is at times inconsistent, but since this novel was originally published serially, it's not surprising that he changed his mind about stuff between issues. It was incredibly easy to lose myself in the story, and the only thing I couldn't quite believe was that John Carter was able to control his physical urges even though he and Dejah Thoris were naked the whole time. Seriously? I could buy Dejah Thoris being unaffected on the grounds that it's how her people live, but a red-blooded Virginia boy? Who came from a time when women showed almost no skin below the neckline? Maybe that makes Burroughs even more of a liberal thinker than I thought....more