The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Around 370 pages
Many people might have already read this in high school or middle school, but my school never assigned it, probably not trusting the students to handle the material...appropriately. A fair assessment, as I once overheard some kid say he was excited to wear his grandfather's robes at a local KKK meeting. Anyway, having never read any Mark Twain used to be my embarrassing literary secret. Now I can go back to being properly ashamed that I haven't the read The Trial yet.
Having never read Tom Sawyer, I had to take Huck's word for it at the beginning that they are had some crazy adventures together and had somehow ended up with a large amount of money. Huck begins the novel living with the Widow Douglas, who promises to make him "sivilized." Or the South version of civilized in any case. Huck's alcoholic and abusive father kidnaps him once he learns that Huck has some money and takes him to an isolated cabin. Huck is able to escape by faking his own death and meets up with Jim, an escaped slave who is trying to get to Cairo, Illinois, to buy his family's freedom. The two bond and have adventures together. I would like to read a version where things get a little steamier between them, but we must work with what we have.
I have heard this called the American Don Quixote. This, to me, is an insult both to Cervantes and American literature as a whole. If anyone said this in my presence, as a proper gentleman, I would have no choice but to challenge them to an arm wrestling contest. I just found this novel extremely hard to get through. For one thing, the racial content, while progressive for its time, is slightly nauseating. I also found the dialect really difficult to wade through. I completely understand why Twain did this; there is no way we would have gotten a grasp of Huck's character if the book had been written in the King's English. Still, I legitimately had a harder time deciphering this than I do with Shakespeare.
That being said, there were a few laugh out loud moments. Huck was definitely an intriguing character who was extremely intelligent (discounting his inability to ever remember his aliases) but denied an education.
Different adaptations of replaced all instances of the word "nigger" with "hipster" or "robot." Way to solve racism guys!
Ernest Hemingway praised the novel, but criticized the ending for "cheating."
UP NEXT: Germinal by Emile Zola. I have already read this one, so expect a review up in the next couple of weeks!