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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Mark Twain looks alot like Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.
Book Review
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
 by Mark Twain
p. 1885

Guide to 19th Century American Literature

Book Review: The Awakening by Kate Chopin ,1899,  9/26/13
Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, 1885, 10/15/13
Book Review: The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James ,1880 , 7/16/13
Book Review; Ben Hur by Lew Wallace,1880  6/13/13
Book Review: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott,1869, 3/9/13
Book Review: The Marble Faun by Nathaniel Hawthorne 1860, 9/19/12
Book Review: Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1852, 9/12/12
Book Review: The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne,1851, 5/30/12
Book Review: Moby Dick by Herman Melville 1851, 8/27/12
Book Review: The House of the Seven Gables,1851,  6/21/12
Book Review: The Pit and The Pendulum  1842, 3/28/12
Book Review: The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe, 1844, 3/27/12
Book Review: The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe, 1839, 3/20/12
Book Review: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper, 1826, 6/18/12

  I was startled to discovery that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published a full 30 years after the Civil War ended.  Huckleberry Finn depicts the antebellum near south (Arkansas and southern Ohio figure prominently in the river driven plot.)  I won't say that Twain was nostalgic for that time and place, since the pages of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are chock full of unflattering characteristics of the people of that period, but when you consider that this book was published the same year as Germinal by Zola, it's hard not to see Twain as a huge outlier on the fringes of contemporary (in the 1880s) literature.

  I don't think I'm being controversial by saying that Twain is much, much more important inside America then outside. Growing up I had the impression was a major literary figure world wide, but I believe I was mistaken.  Hell, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer didn't even make the list of 1001 Books To Read Before You Die.  Seems like they should include both or neither, since Huckleberry Finn is a sequel to Tom Sawyer.

  In the final summation it is the American-ness of Huckleberry Finn that strikes me.  Other then Uncle Tom's Cabin, major American novelists of the mid/late 19th century like Hawthorne and Henry James are American only in that they have American characters and settings- their work is strictly within the confines of the English Novel.  Twain, with his use of argot and especially with his use of humor, is something different, a naturally American novelist writing outside the constraints of the literary mainstream of the time.

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