I attempted reading Huckleberry Finn probably fifteen years ago, and what I remember is that I had so much trouble stumbling over the dialect that I abandoned it. I’ve wanted to pick it up again for years, but never did until recently when I received an Audible newsletter announcing The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn read by Elijah Wood. “That’s the ticket,” I thought. “If I listen to someone else read it, I won’t have any trouble with the dialect.” Plus, we were headed out on a family road trip, so it seemed like the perfect driving companion.
I wasn’t disappointed. I am vastly underqualified to offer any analysis or critique of a classic great work such as this, so I’ll just say that I loved it. If you haven’t ever read it yourself (and I know it’s required reading for many a high school student; my own son will be reading it for his high school senior English class this year. I was required to read Tom Sawyer in school, but not Huckleberry Finn), it tells the story, as narrated by Huck Finn himself, of his adventures escaping his abusive, drunken, no good “Pap” and hooking up with a runaway slave by the name of Jim. Full of danger, high adventure, and colorful characters, it’s a story for the ages.
Elijah Wood does a fabulous job performing the story. His reading of it is fluid and seamless, and he does the backwoods, southern dialect beautifully. I discovered after I finished it that he had actually played Huck Finn in a Disney production of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in 1993, and I wonder if this allowed him an intimacy with the story that he might otherwise not have had.
I really loved this story and am sorry I waited so long to read it.