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Discussion - Huckleberry Finn > Related Writing by Mark Twain`

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message 1: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Twain was a prolific writer in a variety of genres. Talk here about other works of his.

It is to be expected that spoilers or plot details will be discussed about these other works, so please indicate at the start of your posts which works you are discussing so that if anybody doesn't want to read spoilers about those works they can avoid the post. Thanks!


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

This short chapter from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer shows Tom at his play acting best. And it also illustrates a remembered boyhood that was quite different from the boyhood Sam Clemens had.

http://www.literature.org/authors/twa...


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

The funeral chapter from Tom Sawyer

http://www.cleavebooks.co.uk/grol/twa...


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Lots of great comments already about the use of vernacular by our child narrator. I thought some people might be interested in a couple of relevant comments from Twain.

On a visit to an elementary school in Carson City, Nevada, he was impressed by student compositions read aloud. “…the cutting to the bone with the very first gash, without any preliminary foolishness in the way of a gorgeous introductory;…the penchant for presenting rigid, uncompromising facts for the consideration of the hearer, rather than ornamental fancies.”

And, answering fan mail from a twelve year old schoolboy named Wattie Bowser he wrote: “ I notice you use plain simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English—it is the modern way, and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable… An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.”


message 6: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikesgoodreads) | 11 comments Zeke wrote: "And, answering fan mail from a twelve year old schoolboy named Wattie Bowser he wrote: “ I notice you use plain simple language, short words and brief sentences. That is the way to write English—it is the modern way, and the best way. Stick to it; don’t let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in. When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them—then the rest will be valuable… An adjective habit, or a wordy, diffuse, flowery habit, once fastened upon is as hard to get rid of as any other vice.” "

I could benefit from the advice in that letter. I am too wordy when I write. I just enjoy words and arranging them so. It's selfishness, my writing is often more for me to enjoy than for the reader. At least I've became aware of it in the last year. I would say more about this, but...


message 7: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikesgoodreads) | 11 comments About Twain's other works my fav is Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. It's been years since I read it but I recall first being surprised that Twain had wrote it, I had never heard anything about it. I also remember it reading like non-fiction. From the title you can see that was his intention and it worked. I had no internet access at the time and I kept having a feeling like maybe it wasn't even Twain who wrote it, the cover was mislabeled or something. Anyway, it was a page turner for me. It's a medium-long sized book and I finished it in four days which is really fast for me.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Mike. Hope you will join in on the Huck Finn discussion. You are in good company in liking Twain's Joan of Arc book--he liked it a lot too. However, from my reading about his career, it seems that there are not many others who join the two of you in admiring the book. ;)


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

If people wish to cite passages from the book, here is an online version of the novel.

http://www.readbookonline.net/title/3/


message 10: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikesgoodreads) | 11 comments Zeke wrote: "Hi Mike. Hope you will join in on the Huck Finn discussion. You are in good company in liking Twain's Joan of Arc book--he liked it a lot too. However, from my reading about his career, it seems th..."

Thank you, Zeke, I am going to join in on the Finn discussion. I'm starting chapter 2 today.

I've seen that JOA was, and is still not, well received. Many do not even know he wrote such a book. You've probably learned how Twain traveled and lived in France several years to do research for the book where the events actually took place.


message 11: by Everyman (last edited Nov 10, 2010 04:10PM) (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Zeke wrote: "If people wish to cite passages from the book, here is an online version of the novel.

And here's another version which has links to the illustrations in, I think, the original edition.

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/mod...


message 12: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikesgoodreads) | 11 comments You threw an extra 'h' in there Everyman :-)

Thought I'd fix 'er ...
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/mod...


message 13: by Gayle (new)

Gayle Mangis | 163 comments Talking about Uncle Tom's Cabin reminds me of another piece of Twain literature I taught, coupled with UTC and Walt Whitman's "Beat, Beat, Drums." Twain's "The War Prayer" was published post-posthumously. These three pieces, a novel, a poem, and a short story, are all examples of persuasive writing apart from the rhetorical essay or speech. The message in this little piece completely changed my outlook on and practice of prayer.


message 14: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Mike wrote: "You threw an extra 'h' in there Everyman :-)

Thought I'd fix 'er ...
http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/mod..."


Thanks. i edited my post, too, so it's now correct both places.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

Mike wrote: "About Twain's other works my fav is Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc. It's been years since I read it but I recall first being surprised that Twain had wrote it, I had never hea..."

Thanks for the tip! I had never heard of this book but I'm a big fan of Joan. I've now added this one to my lengthy goodreads "to-read" list.


message 16: by Lesli (new)

Lesli (lesmel) There's a copy of Huck Finn here on Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/reader/read/478


message 17: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikesgoodreads) | 11 comments Lesli wrote: "There's a copy of Huck Finn here on Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/reader/read/478"

Ahh, it's illustrated too exactly like the one I grabbed at iBooks. I never knew GoodReads had books too. Pretty cool. Thanks, Lesli.


message 18: by Lesli (new)

Lesli (lesmel) The GR ebooks collection is available for reading online and/or downloading: http://www.goodreads.com/ebooks


message 19: by Mike (new)

Mike (mikesgoodreads) | 11 comments Forgive me if this is getting off-topic here but real quick for M...


M wrote: "...I'm a big fan of Joan."

Oh, me too. Ever read Jeanne D'Arc: her life and death by Margaret Oliphant? It's in the public domain.  

Archive.org has it in several different formats...
http://www.archive.org/details/cu3192...

Also direct for Kindle... 
http://www.amazon.com/Jeanne-DArc-lif...

And direct for iBooks...
http://ax.itunes.apple.com/us/book/je...


message 20: by Shay (new)

Shay | 20 comments I haven't read Tom Sawyer in almost 20 years. So, I'm trying to read that before I start Huck Finn. Although I read both books when I was young, I just realized that I've never read them in order. So, I'm really enjoying getting reacquainted "properly" this time.


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Well, good for you Shay. But please don't let your effort for completeness prevent you from joining us for the discussion of HF. The summaries provided should be sufficient.


message 22: by Shay (new)

Shay | 20 comments Zeke wrote: "Well, good for you Shay. But please don't let your effort for completeness prevent you from joining us for the discussion of HF. The summaries provided should be sufficient."

Just finished Tom Sawyer about 10 minutes ago and I'm starting Huck Finn now.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Great. Your thoughts about the similarities and differences will be so valuable since both will be fresh in your mind.


message 24: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 14, 2010 03:30PM) (new)

Can't believe I forgot to post these last week. The convention of the times was to write moralistic stories to educate boys and girls about the importance of good behavior. You can imagine what Twain thought of these stories. Here are two very short tales he wrote. The first, the story of a good little boy and the second the story of a bad little boy. Like the conventional tales they have a moral--but with a delicious twist.

http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnL...

http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnL...

For those pressed for time, here is a taste from the second story. As readders of Paradise Lost you should enjoy it.

Once he climbed up in Farmer Acorn's apple tree to steal apples, and the limb didn't break, and he didn't fall and break his arm, and get torn by the farmer's great dog, and then languish on a sickbed for weeks, and repent and become good. Oh, no; he stole as many apples as he wanted and came down all right; and he was all ready for the dog, too, and knocked him endways with a brick when he came to tear him. It was very strange --nothing like it ever happened in those mild little books with marbled backs, and with pictures in them of men with swallow-tailed coats and bell-crowned hats, and pantaloons that are short in the legs, and women with the waists of their dresses under their arms, and no hoops on. Nothing like it in any of the Sunday-school books.

How the boy ends up is classic Twain.


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Zeke wrote: "Can't believe I forgot to post these last week. The convention of the times was to write moralistic stories to educate boys and girls about the importance of good behavior. You can imagine what Twa..."

Those are classic twain. I love what happens to the bad boy. But interesting in being written in specific counterpoint to the Sunday School stories of the day, as presumably approved by the Concord library board which banned Huck.


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

This is a good time to share two short pieces Twain wrote that are relevant to this main section of the book. The first is an account of a conversation with a young African American boy named Jimmy. Jimmy was assigned to tend to Twains needs during a hotel stay on one of his speaking tours. Later he described Jimmy as,” the most artless, sociable, and exhaustless talker I ever came across.” Published in the New York Times in 1874, during the time that Huckleberry Finn was “pigeonholed” and Twain was stuck on how to proceed. It is an experimental piece that may have helped convince Twain that he could capture black dialect.

http://etext.virginia.edu/railton/huc...

The second short piece recounts an experience that moved him greatly, and may have helped shape the book when he returned to the endeavor. Also from 1874, it was written while (or about) a vacation with his family in Livy’s hometown of Elmira, New York. One evening one of their servants sat “respectably” beneath the family as they chatted on the front porch. Twain asks “Aunt Rachel” (real name Mary Ann Cord) how she has managed to live sixty years and never have any troubles. Her answer is transcribed in “A True Story Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It.”

http://www.pbs.org/marktwain/learnmor...

The you tube clip linked below from Ken Burn’s documentary on Twain’s life tells the story of how it came to be written and has beautiful images and a very moving reading of parts of it. In fact, I recommend you watch it first and then go back and read the short piece if you wish to. The part about Mary Ann Cord begins at 4:30.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99696h...

Shelly Fisher Fishkin authored a book titled Was Huck Black? The title is not meant to be taken literally. However, she makes a strong case for the African American origins of much of his art. She draws an important distinction about what he achieves. “[It is true that only Negroes use black phonology] But phonology does not describe a voice…voice involves syntax and diction, the cadences and rhythms of a speaker’s sentences, the flow of the prose…”

How well he does or does not achieve success in giving Jim a “voice” is up for discussion. Of course, there is another meaning to the concept of “voice” in literature. Does he allow Jim a chance to speak for himself and show the reader who he is as a character and a man?


message 27: by Erica (new)

Erica Zeke wrote: "Can't believe I forgot to post these last week. The convention of the times was to write moralistic stories to educate boys and girls about the importance of good behavior. You can imagine what Twa..."

Those are hilarious. Thanks for posting!


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Interesting reflection by Twain in his notebooks about the "logic" and "absurdity" of the slave system.

In Notebook #35, Mark Twain wrote: "In those old slave-holding days the whole community was agreed as to one thing--the awful sacredness of slave property. To help steal a horse or a cow was a low crime, but to help a hunted slave, or feed him or shelter him, or hide him, or comfort him, in his troubles, his terrors, his despair, or hesitate to promptly to betray him to the slave-catcher when opportunity offered was a much baser crime, & carried with it a stain, a moral smirch which nothing could wipe away. That this sentiment should exist among slave-owners is comprehensible--there were good commercial reasons for it--but that it should exist & did exist among the paupers, the loafers the tag-rag & bobtail of the community, & in a passionate & uncompromising form, is not in our remote day realizable. It seemed natural enough to me then; natural enough that Huck & his father the worthless loafer should feel it & approve it, though it seems now absurd. It shows that that strange thing, the conscience--the unerring monitor--can be trained to approve any wild thing you want it to approve if you begin its education early & stick to it."


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

What Patrice said! I've have never seen anyone mention how non-slave owners, especially those on the lower end of the economic scale, felt about slavery as a social institution. Eye opening to see how unthinkingly they defended it. Thanks for that Zeke. Really useful post!


message 30: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 15, 2010 03:42PM) (new)

Glad you guys felt the quote was useful. To me, this is the sentence that most relates to our book:

"It shows that that strange thing, the conscience--the unerring monitor--can be trained to approve any wild thing you want it to approve if you begin its education early & stick to it."

Because we know him so well, I think it is easy to forget that Huck is a fourteen year old kid. Indeed, a kid whose "conscience" has been "educated" to view himself as an outsider and at the bottom of the social ladder.

In chapters 12-32 he observes a lot of things about society--though, as E-man pointed out, little of slavery. He seems to accept most of them at face value at first. Still, something else seems to be going on at the same time. Hopefully, we will unearth what that is.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Here are the epigraphs from Pudd'nhead Wilson. Smart businessman that he tried to be, Twain marketed them separately. Their success led to other spin offs and even a second set of sayings.

http://everything2.com/title/Pudd%252...


message 32: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 19, 2010 11:57AM) (new)

Introduction: Sam and Livy Clemens had four children: Langdon, who died at 22 months; Susy, who died at age 24; Clara, the only child to survive her parents; and Jean. In the following excerpt, originally published in the North American Review as
Chapters from My Autobiography, Twain describes an incident from Susy’s childhood.

[Note: Twain refers to Susy “correcting” Clara. Susy hit her.]

As a child, Susy had a passionate temper; and it cost her much remorse and many tears before she
learned to govern it, but after that it was a wholesome salt, and her character was the stronger and healthier for its presence. It enabled her to be good with dignity; it preserved her not only from being good for vanity’s sake, but from even the appearance of it. In looking back over the long vanished years, it seems but natural and excusable that I should dwell with longing affection and preference upon incidents of her young life which made it beautiful to us, and that I should let its few small offences go unsummoned and unreproached.

In the summer of 1880, when Susy was just eight years of age, the family were at Quarry Farm, as usual at that season of the year. Hay-cutting time was approaching, and Susy and Clara were counting the hours, for the time was big with a great event for them; they had been promised that they might mount the wagon and ride home from the fields on the summit of the hay mountain. This perilous privilege, so dear to their age and species, had never been granted them before. Their excitement had no bounds.

They could talk of nothing but this epoch-making adventure, now. But misfortune overtook Susy on the very morning of the important day. In a sudden outbreak of passion, she corrected Clara – with a shovel, or stick, or something of the sort. At any rate, the offence committed was of a gravity clearly beyond the limit allowed in the nursery. In accordance with the rule and custom of the house, Susy went to her mother to confess, and to help decide upon the size and character of the punishment due. It was quite understood that, as a punishment could have but one rational object and function – to act as a reminder, and warn the transgressor against transgressing in the same way again – the children would know about as well as any how to choose a penalty which would be rememberable and effective.

Susy and her mother discussed various punishments, but none of them seemed adequate. This fault was an unusually serious one, and required the setting up of a danger-signal in the memory that would not blow out nor burn out, but remain a fixture there and furnish its saving warning indefinitely. Among the punishments mentioned was deprivation of the hay-wagon ride. It was noticeable that this one hit Susy hard.

Finally, in the summing up, the mother named over the list and asked: “Which one do you think it ought to be, Susy?”

Susy studied, shrank from her duty, and asked:“Which do you think, mamma?”

“Well, Susy, I would rather leave it to you. You make the choice yourself.”

It cost Susy a struggle, and much and deep thinking and weighing – but she came out where any one who knew her could have foretold she would.“Well, mamma, I’ll make it the hay-wagon, because you know the other things might not make me remember not to do it again, but if I don’t get to ride on the hay-wagon I can remember it easily.”

In this world the real penalty, the sharp one, the lasting one, never falls otherwise than on the wrong person. It was not I that corrected her, but the remembrance of poor Susy’s lost hay-ride still brings me a pang – after twenty-six years.


message 33: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments That's a nice anecdote, Zeke. If only we had parents like these days. But today, most parents would worry too much about Suzy's hurt self-esteem to punish her.


message 34: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 21, 2010 05:25AM) (new)

Zeke wrote: "In Notebook #35, Mark Twain wrote: "In those old slave-holding days the whole community was agreed as to one thing--the awful sacredness of slave property. ..."

Wow! Thanks so much for posting this. Suddenly the war Huck has with his conscience over whether to turn Jim in -- which he very firmly believes is the right, the good thing to do -- makes a lot more sense.

I'm going to have to make more of a point of reading every single post in all these related-topic threads from now on instead of concentrating mostly on the current chapters one. Sometimes what you see in these related areas is like a lightbulb suddenly turning on, clarifying puzzling aspects of a book. For me, this was one of those times.


message 35: by [deleted user] (last edited Nov 21, 2010 05:41AM) (new)

Thanks for that comment M. My thought in setting them up was that we'd have a repository people could turn to rather than having resources get tangled and lost in the chapter threads. Some more good stuff to come this week!


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Not surprisingly, Mark Twain weighed in with thoughts about Thanksgiving. Happy holiday to all who partake.

http://www.twainquotes.com/Thanksgivi...


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

For your holiday reading pleasure, a slightly longer, but very worthwhile, piece of writing by Mark twain. As several people have noted he married into an ardently abolitionist family and moved to Connecticut. This put him in the awkward position of having to explain his brief service in an irregular Confederate Army unit. The way he addresses it is both characteristic and carries intereting analogues to both Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer.

It is about fourteen pages long but the ending especially reflects on Huck Finn.

http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-sto...


message 38: by Selina (new)

Selina (selinatng) | 62 comments The Library of America selects a story for every week. This week's story is "The Christmas Fireside" by Mark Twain. It is 4 pages long, and it is about a boy called Jim.
http://storyoftheweek.loa.org/2010/12...
My thanks to all members and especially to Zeke for the information and comments on Huckleberry Finn and the writer. I have enjoyed reading them all.


message 39: by Readergal (new)

Readergal Selina wrote: "The Library of America selects a story for every week. This week's story is "The Christmas Fireside" by Mark Twain. It is 4 pages long, and it is about a boy called Jim.
http://storyoftheweek.loa.o..."
Thanks for sharing this Selina. Pure Mark Twain storytelling.


message 40: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda (rhondak) | 214 comments There is a short letter to his daughter Susie, which Twain wrote in the guise of Santa Claus (who also turns out to be the man in the moon.) It begins with Palace of St. Nicholas in the Moon, Christmas Morning, My Dear Susie Clemens
It is a delightful read and typical of the extent to which he would go to please his daughters. I found it in a collection of stories about Christmas called The Everything Christmas Book


message 41: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Rhonda wrote: "It is a delightful read and typical of the extent to which he would go to please his daughters. ..."

Another example of what a complex author he was/is.


message 42: by Monique (new)

Monique | 6 comments I know I am late to the discussion for this but I only saw it yesterday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leYj--...


message 43: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 7718 comments Thanks. Interesting to see the actual man, not just re-enactors. But what a hat pin that young woman had for her hat. No wonder old time mystery stories had people killed with hat pins!


message 44: by Monique (new)

Monique | 6 comments It does look like it could do some serious damage.


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