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When you pick up a Twain you know you'll get a good yarn. This is no exception. This is another book I read in my youth. I remember it more fondly that it appears to me now. I guess this goes to prove that tastes change and, in that sense, they mature.
It's still a good yarn. Not as funny as I remember it to be and more tragic, too. The satire is classic Twain. The wit sharp and, at times, quite brutal. The attack on the Dixie South slavery and serfdom is caustic, for example. The attack on the monarchy (more visceral than mocking) and hereditary privilege is relentless and, I felt, overdone. Perhaps that is because I don't need to be convinced. Another example is Hank Morgan's (aka Twain's) disdain of the Catholic Church. Ironically, Twain's criticism is almost religious. Similarly, his zeal for universeral sufferage is fanatical.
Through it all, there is no mistaking Twain's message. It might be written through the conceit of a Yankee who is struck on the head in the 1890s and wakes up in the 7th Century, but the opinions are still controversial in the 21st Century.
Stangely, I found the message less palatable in 2012 than I did in the 1980s, although I agee with most of Twain's views. Generally, I found it a bit forced for my modern sensibility.
From a performance point of view, William Dufris delivers his customary skilled performance. I particularly liked his Twain and his Sandy. However, there are not enough characters to allow him to shine.
Overall, I'm not sure I should have re-read this book. My memory of it was better, but that's no reflection on the production values or the performance. As a first time read, I think it would have scored better.
32 of 34 people found this review helpful
But "not the best of Twain" is still better than most.
I'd read this many years ago, and picked up the Audio as a daily deal. Dufris is a very accomplished narrator and does a fine job here.
This is primarily a satirical novel, in which Twain lauds the nobility of the ignoble, while excoriating the ignominy of the nobility. His observations on slavery are deeply compelling. One must note that this book was written with the Civil War very much in living memory, and one can only imagine the controversy such writing would evoke. There are also longish passages on economic issues which would have been extremely topical in 1890, but much less so today.
Some will feel that a satirical piece of this length is just one long harangue. Perhaps it is, but Twain's wit and essential gentility keep it from becoming dark.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Great book and the narrator was excellent. He was fantastic at changing his accent to suit the characters.
I spent some time listening to the samples for the different unabridged versions of this book and finally chose William Dufris. Am very pleased with my choice, he makes an excellent Connecticut Yankee and delivers the brilliant and witty dialogue in just the right way. A great story and a pleasure to listen to.