Gregory Lee's Reviews > Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
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's review
Apr 28, 2012

really liked it

As Americans, we are required to consider "Huckleberry Finn" to be Twain's best work. It's the book in which Twain confronts racism and first proclaims that a white boy can have a black, escaped slave as a father figure. Twain confronted much of his America's foolishness in the raft trip down the river.

He also at the end provided an easy answer: Jim was not an escaped slave after all, he'd been freed. Tom Sawyer could fix things without telling this. Perhaps one shouldn't criticize Twain for loving a character based on himself, much less for writing his own vision. Huck was brave enough to decide that he would aid Jim in escape. Twain delivered that decision without consequences.

His "Joan of Arc" cannot be so delivered. He had a history book to follow. With no such option, twain focused on the humanity behind the story -- a humanity he so often despised. He begins with a story about the destruction of fairies by the adults of the village. He is already symbolically foreshadowing the tragedy of Joan's life. For doing what is right, for daring to be great, she must be destroyed.

Twain wrote this story to criticize humanity at its worst. At the same time, he allows us through his narrator to love humanity at its best. He decries ignorance through his writing, as he always does.

You have almost certainly read Huckleberry Finn, and perhaps Tom Sawyer. If you want to find out why Twain was truly great, look at some of his other novels and stories, and especially "Joan of Arc."
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Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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message 1: by Michele (new) - added it

Michele Gore Lovely review! You made me want to read this book, for a reason much better than the one I had in mind (o,, look! A Mark Twain I've not read yet!) made it sound quite interesting and compelling on it's own merits. Thanks!

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