26 CLASSICS: Huckleberry Finn Review #2

Title: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: Mark Twain
Genre: Classics

Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.Intended at first as a simple story of a boy's adventures in the Mississippi Valley - a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - the book grew and matured under Twain's hand into a work of immeasurable richness and complexity. More than a century after its publication, the critical debate over the symbolic significance of Huck's and Jim's voyage is still fresh, and it remains a major work that can be enjoyed at many levels: as an incomparable adventure story and as a classic of American humor. 

Me: I have now read possibly the greatest novel in all of American literature. While I'm sure there is incredible debate about that statement, it is largely accepted that Huck Finn is one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time. (also is a banned book, so you can be rebellious while reading it too-hehe)

Let me tell you why. (Sidenote: In case you haven't noticed by now, I don't really do my classic reviews in the normal format, it's just me showcasing my general thoughts) 

Huck Finn could be an incredibly simple story. And in theory, it is. A boy and a runaway slave travel down the Mississippi. Whoop-dee-do. But the real genius is that Twain never explicitly describes or states anything about how Huck grows as a young person who comes to see the world in his own perspective- it just sort of folds out. The reader is swept up in Huck's world from the very first chapter. The entire novel is told in first person which is an utterly fascinating experience, especially because you get to see the universe in Huck's eyes but also because you get to see that sight develop and grow without Huck realizing it. 

Huck starts off a small figure with simple motives and goals. He wants to go to school (occasionally), he takes part in a make-believe gang of small reckless boys, and he smokes with no shame. The most complicated issue at this point is his father, who is practically absent from his life until he randomly decides to bring up his son the "right way". From there, we see a boy who knows what sort of man his father is and looks at him with neither contempt nor love, but rather sees him quite plain- almost as if he were a stranger. In this sense, we can already see Huck's unique intelligence and insight forming. 

Jim is probably the second most important character. A superstitious and often hilarious runaway slave, he wants more than anything to become free. As Huck helps him on his journey, Huck realizes that he has the power over a man's life. A man he knows, cares for, and has been through a lot with. Huck has been taught that runaway slaves must be turned in, but his personal experiences and views of Jim as a person and friend begin to cloud his teachings. 

The journey on the river is so beautifully American. It is extremely interesting in a historical point of view, but I love how the physical journey symbolizes the mental and character journey as well. And I have to point out, this book can be hilarious, outrageous, and whimsical. Mark Twain is his own kind of genius. 

There is so much to say about this book. It is definitely not easy to get through, until the writing style becomes familiar and the plot picks up. The topics and social commentary the book delivers is weighty and meaty...I could write a 10 page essay on just this novel. Heck, someone could write a novel on this novel.  

But it is worth it all. Huck is not Tom Sawyer (privileged, annoying kid who needs attention and excitement in his life). Huck is something entirely different, something new and revolutionary in literature at the time. There will never be ANOTHER Huck. Which is why I really hope that whether it be required or not, you read this book once in your lifetime. 

Have you read Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, or anything else of Mark Twain? What did you think?

Rating: 4 kisses!

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