Rick's Reviews > The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
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Feb 02, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction
Read in January, 2005

Hadn’t read this wonderful book in a couple of decades, though I used to read it every few years. The book begs to be read aloud. The dialect sings with natural beauty. The descriptions of the Mississippi, small town life and the rural landscape are poetry. The humor is stand-up comic funny and so skillful you admire the jokes with the same wonder you admire the descriptions of storms on the river, which is as if you were witnessing them, rather than reading about them. And there isn’t a better use of innocence, in the guise of a worldly-wise river rat, to unmask hypocrisy around. I share Hemingway’s declaration: all modern American literature comes from one book, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The book’s much noted single flaw is the re-introduction of Tom Sawyer in the book’s final quarter. It is sudden low farce intruding and distracting from a satiric narrative that had risen to anticipatory poignancy via the dynamic of Jim and Huck’s evolving relationship. The section is funny and expertly done in many respects, it just doesn’t fit with where the reader is. Huck is more interesting, more developed, and has become a moral center, “unfit” to do the right thing, turn the runaway Jim in. He can’t because even though it’s the legal and the “moral” thing, it’s wrong because he’s discovered Jim’s humanity and learned more from Jim’s behavior and character than he has from society’s more formal instruction in church, school or home. Sawyer and his feverish schemes of needless adventure temporarily disrupt everything. But that flaw fades before the power, beauty, and perfect satire of the earlier passages and Huck’s final decision to light out for the territories because “sivlisation” isn’t for him. Just one of the best books ever.
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Rose I also felt that I had to read this book aloud. I really feel like M.T. just ran out of steam and brought Tom in so that he could just finish the book somehow. Supposedly M.T. set out to write a kids book and he sort of finishes it as one


Rick Hi Rose,
I thought I responded to your comment over the weekend but I think I forgot to hit Post. Ah, me. Liked your review and thanks for your comment on mine. I think I said in my reply to you that I've read Huck Finn maybe 8 times over the years and it wasn't until the last time when I could actually read the end without being so frustrated by Tom Sawyer's crudely comic instrusion on this otherwise perfrect novel. Before it the book is as close to perfect as a great novel can be. Don't know whether Mr. Clemens lost confidence in his potential audience or didn't realize how good Huck Finn was without Sawyer or what it was but I've finally let it go, though I do believe it brings out the Max Perkins in all of us--"Hey Sam, this is amazing, really amazing, but can you take another look at the ending. Keep the lighting out for the territories part, that's as perfect as anything in the book, but can you lose Sawyer and leave this about Huck and Jim?"
Rick


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