Eric's Reviews > The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
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's review
Aug 01, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: classic, audiobooks
Recommended to Eric by:
Recommended for: Mark Twain scholars

I really liked parts of this book -- Huck's escape from his father, the floating house, the Grangerford-Shepherdson feud, the Royal Nonesuch, and meeting Colonel Sherburn. However, a deconstruction better explains how I felt about the end than I could:
So what's the problem? Only this: Twain's acknowledged masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, inspires almost universal ambivalence among its biggest fans. "It's the best book we've had," pronounced Ernest Hemingway in 1932. "All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since." Oh, but one more thing, counseled Papa: "If you must read it you must stop where...Jim is stolen from the boys [and imprisoned by a slave catcher]. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating."

As [Ron] Powers puts it, "Huckleberry Finn endures as a consensus masterpiece despite these final chapters" in which Tom Sawyer leads Huck through elaborate, ineffectual, and grotesque machinations to rescue the runaway slave from Tom's Uncle Silas (even worse, we eventually learn that Jim has in fact been free the whole time). Most critics feel that once Tom Sawyer shows up, Huckleberry Finn devolves into little more than minstrel-show satire and broad comedy that cheapens the deep, transgressive bond that has evolved between Huck and Jim.
All in all, I preferred The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which was shorter, lighter in tone, and written in the third-person -- Twain's first-person account of Huck Finn is often so verbose and meandering, an English teacher friend of mine refers to it as a "Twain wreck."
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Reading Progress

August 1, 2011 – Shelved
August 1, 2011 – Shelved as: classic
August 8, 2011 – Shelved as: audiobooks
August 18, 2011 – Started Reading
August 29, 2011 –
50.0% "This is dragging a lot more than Tom Sawyer."
September 6, 2011 –
95.0% "This is looking to be one of the stupidest endings I've ever read. I can't wait to be done with this book."
September 6, 2011 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Shovelmonkey1 (new)

Shovelmonkey1 mwah hah twain wreck. Ian will be gutted didn't get in with this one first!

James (JD) Dittes I look at those final chapters as a final takedown of Romanticism (personified by Tom's imaginings) by Twain. Huckleberry Finn is a realist. Stephen Crane is a better father for American Realism, but Twain was an undertaker for the ideas that held sway before the Civil War.

Eric Interesting perspective, JD.

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