Richard Hughes High Wind in Jamaica

ISBN 13: 9780451504227

High Wind in Jamaica

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9780451504227: High Wind in Jamaica

A daring classic tale of childhood adventure on the high seas Written in 1929, this is the story of the Bas-Thornton children, whose parents send them to safety in England following a hurricane in the post-colonial Jamaica they call home. Their voyage turns from a peaceful farewell to their idyllic carefree lives to a perilous adventure when their ship is captured by pirates. The novel is often called one of the best of the 20th Century. Hughes was praised for his portrayal of children; they are subject to violence and not beyond committing terrible acts themselves, and in writing children without emotional reduction he paved the way for later masterworks such as Lord Of The Flies. This recording also includes an original recorded interview with Richard Graves, the only biographer of Richard Hughes. Unabridged.

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Review:

A High Wind in Jamaica is not so much a book as a curious object, like a piece of driftwood torqued into an alarming shape from years at sea. And like driftwood, it seems not to have been made, exactly, but simply to have come into being, so perfectly is its form married to its content. The five Bas-Thornton children must leave their parents in Jamaica after a terrible hurricane blows down their family home. Accompanied by their Creole friends, the Fernandez children, they board a ship that is almost immediately set upon by pirates. The children take to corsair life coolly and matter-of-factly; just as coolly do they commit horrible deeds, and have horrible deeds visited upon them. First published in 1929, A High Wind in Jamaica has been compared to Lord of the Flies in its unflinching portrayal of innocence corrupted, but Richard Hughes is the supreme ironist William Golding never was. He possesses the ability to be one moment thoroughly inside a character's head, and the next outside of it altogether, hilariously commenting.

Irony finds a happy home indeed in the book's mixture of the macabre and the adorable. The baby girl, Rachel, "could even sum up maternal feelings for a marline-spike, and would sit up aloft rocking it in her arms and crooning. The sailors avoided walking underneath: for such an infant, if dropped from a height, will find its way through the thickest skull (an accident which sometimes befalls unpopular captains)." In that "such an infant" lies a world of mordant wit. In fact, throughout, Hughes's wildly eccentric punctuation and startling syntax make just the right verbal vehicle for this dark-hearted pirate story for grownups.

Hughes enjoys some coy riffing on the child mind, as with this description of the way Emily handles an uncomfortable social situation: "Much the best way of escaping from an embarrassing rencontre, when to walk away would be an impossible strain on the nerves, is to retire in a series of somersaults. Emily immediately started turning head over heels up the deck." Even so, Hughes never sentimentalizes his subject: "Babies of course are not human--they are animals, and have a very ancient and ramified culture, as cats have, and fishes, and even snakes." Children, as a race, are given rough treatment: "their minds are not just more ignorant and stupider than ours, but differ in kind of thinking (are mad, in fact)." That madness is here isolated, prodded, and poked to chilling effect. But Hughes never loses sight of his ultimate objective: A High Wind in Jamaica is, above all, a cracking good yarn. --Claire Dederer

From the Publisher:

New edition of a classic adventure novel and one of the most startling, highly praised stories in English literature--a brilliant chronicle of two sensitive children's violent voyage from innocence to experience.

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Hughes, Richard
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Richard Hughes
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Richard Hughes
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ISBN 10: 0451504224 ISBN 13: 9780451504227
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