J.A.A. Purves's Reviews > Freddy and Fredericka

Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin
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's review
Aug 01, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: own
Read in July, 2012 — I own a copy

This is probably the most comical book of Helprin's with a number of laugh-out-loud moments in it. But it's not just a comedy. There are a whole collection of beautifully written and inspiring passages. Reaching the ending, I can't help leaving the book convinced more than ever that I've been cheated by my modern education. The reason the two main characters become the heroes that they do is because they are educated (and then proceed to educate themselves further) in a wide swath of history, literature, philosophy, culture and theology.

Freddy and Fredericka are able to have the discussions that they do, and they are able to do the things that they do because of what they know and have learned about the world around them. The adventures that they have in this book are necessary. But these adventures are also application - application of the large and glowing sense of the world around them that their being raised in the arts & humanities gives them. Freddy is initially more educated (or at least appears to be) than Fredericka, but she is able to apply things like her childhood Shakespeare reading in ways that he never could.

They have so much trouble with the modern world because the America they find themselves in has lost what they still have. This is what makes the story so interesting.

And this is just one of many fascinating ideas that the book leaves you pondering.
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