Editor reviews

For many readers, William Hootkins's narration of Longfellow's classic nineteenth-century poem will evoke memories of elementary or middle school. Longfellow's extended narrative is set in a regular, easily recognized rhythm. This rhythm guides Hootkins's delivery, as this is more of a performance than a simple narration. He powerfully underscores the moments of import, giving the impression of a traditional storyteller revisiting a familiar piece. The one weakness in Hootkins's performance may come from matching Longfellow's poetry too closely. At times, the poem seems to drive on in the same vein for too long, with too many attempts at peak moments.
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Summary

Longfellow's great narrative poem has been unjustly neglected in recent years though it gives a sympathetic portrait especially of Hiawatha, reared by Nokomis, daughter of the Moon, and his bride Minehaha. It is famously underpinned by its hypnotic rhythm, which makes it ideal listening.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.
Public Domain
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Francis on 13-07-06

To be taken in small doses

Many people may have come across extracts from Hiawatha and - haunted by the cadence of its repetitive rhythm -may be curious to sample the whole poem.This audio book provides an excellent opportunity.William Hootkins proves to be an ideal reader:he judges well the flow and variety of the narrative,not disguising the monotonous, hypnotic quality of the verse but using this to create a coherent and convincing heroic world.Some listeners may be put off by the pervasive repetitions and often slow narrative but those who persist and become acclimatised to the world of Hiawatha will be rewarded by getting to know a most enjoyable poem. It is not Homer alas -no memorable characters, profound insight or masterful structure - and I very much doubt whether it is an authentic guide to Native American culture -but it is something unique in English poetry and there were good reasons why it was once so popular.It deserves revisiting - but I do advise listening to short extracts or one episode at a time -more extensive listening might lead to boredom or even sleep.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Kindle Customer on 10-02-18

Time passers

Have always enjoyed Hiawatha, first read
When I was in my teens, Very well read
By the narrator really enjoyed

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Doris on 22-08-08

More fascinating than I expected

I bought this audio mainly because I was going to Alaska, wanted SOMEthing about Native Americans, and had never read it in high school, so I thought listening to it would be less painful than reading it. To my surprise, it turns out to be a fascinating string of legends about the mythical Hiawatha, his coming of age, taking a wife, enduring hardships, and his eventual leaving his tribe for an unknown land.

The author's skill in telling these stories within the poetic meter is matched by the narrator's ability to read the poetry in a very natural way, making the listener almost forget that the beauty of the words falls always within the meter. Any literature student assigned this poem should listen to this version, to really appreciate the best in American poery.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Erez on 11-11-12

The narrator is amazing

It is difficult to think of a narrator better suited for The Song of Hiawatha than the late, great William Hootkins. I believe he reads the poem almost better than it's written, with such feeling, grace and timing, perfect pathos and emotion. And the poem? It's enchanting, with its clear, hypnotic meter. It evokes a clear sensation of an ancient, hallowed story, of an ancient native legend. Sure, it's parodied quite widely (I myself am almost tempted to compose this humble comment in trochaic tetrameter) but it doesn't really matter.

Very highly recommended.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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