Racist, foul languaged, and unflattering.
That's right, folks. This standard of American Literature is racist and condescending to any well-to-do person of a moral society while heinously wrapped up in a romantic pastiche of the Antebellum South. Samuel "Mark Twain" Clemens has some nerve to throw away virtually every proper writing convention to construct this farce of an adventure. Which is why I consider this is one of the best books I have ever read.
I really enjoyed how well played the satire is. Twain paints the South frankly and without restraint. It was much like Classical Athens where slavery is thought to be a natural fixture of an advanced, cultured society. The southern hospitality is played against moronic feuds and rampant racism; the cultural facades are unimaginably thick and full of logic holes and hypocrisy. Twain even stealthily attacks both realism and romanticism rampant around the Occidental sphere; his most famous passages are of Huck and Jim lazily floating down the Mississippi with all the time in the world, yet reading the book it is clear that they are deep in a dangerous, filthy place where they can easily lose their lives. The story gets quite scary if you think enough about it. The satire points out that yes, while the South does have it's jewels, you cannot ignore the tarnish that comes with it when you look back. The dialogue is wonderfully horrid; the writing is likewise exceptional. You can tell why this man is "The Father of American Literature". None of the social commentary brings attention to itself— a mark of a true humorist.
However, this play between realism and romanticism grinds to a halt at the end; Mark Twain has a hard time ending the satirical journey because it can only end really happily, or really horribly with the way his story has been flowing, and inserting a certain best-friend-of-Huck doesn't make things any better. It only exacerbates what was a smooth mix of the good and the bad, turning ugly. We always say that it's the journey that really matters in the end, but we should never forget where we came from, or else we will be in danger of running in circles.
9th Aug 10
9th Aug 10
Yes, the "racist piece of crap" thing is a joke. That's the point. You can't point out how bad racism is while being prudent about. Otherwise it would be politically correct and bland. Though I'm probably going to edit that title to something less offensive, yet offensive enough.
9th Aug 10
4th Dec 10
I don't know what they're all on about; you've exposed the joke by the end of the first paragraph anyway, & anyone who can't be bothered to read the first paragraph doesn't deserve to criticize the title. Strong review, I liked it.
5th Jan 11
One of my favorite classics, hated the ending. I completely agree. Twain was great at satire and humor, but the book also has its poignant moments as well.
7th Jan 11
Ah yes, I forgot to write about how touching the book can be. That one quiet foggy scene on the river where Huck discovers humanity in what was blackface nigger Jim a page ago is just brilliant.
8th Jan 11
That moment ranks very high on my list of beautiful moments in literature.
10th Jan 11
If I remember correctly the ending that is in the book is not the one Mr Twain wanted to use. His editors forced him to change his original ending because it was too harsh on southern society and slavery.
4th Oct 11
That was quite a lovely review. :)
14th Nov 11
I've always thought the ending was delightfully cynical, myself.
9th Jan 12
@EHK do you know how he wanted it to end?
10th Jan 12
11th Jan 12
@silver2195: I've had that impression to. Unfortunately, Twain's portrayal of Sawyer only devalued the characters of Huck and Jim, and it also deflated the entire situation by having Jim already freed. (Not really that much of a spoiler, I guess)
18th Jun 12
8th Aug 13
I've always thought the ending fit. Tom Sawyer's life has always been very different from Huck's, particularly after the events in the book. Remember, for the standard's of the time, Tom is comfortably middle-class with a very caring mother figure. Huck's an orphan who lives in a barrel because if he goes home, his alcoholic father will beat him viciously. And when Tom comes back with his schemes inspired by a misreading of a book, rather than the practical if conniving manner Huck uses to survive his trip. The story is told by Huck, and I've always read an exasperated tone in his telling of Tom's shenanigans, especially when they find out it was all unnecessary. The story ends with Huck deciding to reject Tom's life and "sivilisation" for his own path, come what may.
I could be wrong, of course. In any event, nice write up. Kudos.
2nd Jan 14
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