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Literary Criticism criticism, anyone? (Huck Finn) (1 Viewer)

krazyklassykat

Senior Member
I'm reading a few literary criticisms on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for a class, and I've come across some interesting views and opinions. I thought discussing them here might help me to better understand where the authors of the criticisms are coming from, and whether or not I share their views.

This might be a rather difficult conversation to keep organized, so I think I'll number/label the pieces I found worth discussing, and you can respond to whichever of them interests you.
If you've come across any other Huck Finn criticisms you'd like to talk about, please feel free to bring them up. Just make sure you include what essay they are from, in case anyone wants to read it.

Well, here goes.





"Huckleberry Finn: An Overview"
Unfortunately, this essay was provided by my professor, and only an excerpt is available here: http://www.enotes.com/finn/1938

1a.
Watching the King and Duke "work" small-town crowds, Huck is more offended by the credulity of the dupes than by the duplicity of the con artists. As the mountebanks pull the wool over the family and neighbors of the later Peter Wilks, it is the responses of the victims, their slavish willingness to believe, that Huck finds disconcerting, declaring that, "it was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race" (p.137).
I could be wrong, but I could have sworn that when we discussed it in class, it was assumed that the King and Duke were "enough to make a body ashamed of the human race." I'm about to go read through that part again, but let me know what you think of that.



1b.
At one point, Moore discusses the difference between Huck's idea of freedom and Jim's idea of freedom.
In contrast to Jim, who conceives freedom in positive terms, feeling "trembly and feverish" as they approach the free northern state of Illinois, Huck sees freedom in terms of the absence of external compulsion.
I can see, vaguely, Moore's point here... but I can't quite manifest it in words. Especially that last underlined part. Does anyone know a simpler way to state that? I don't quite understand what he means....



1c.
At the close of the essay, Moore states an opinion that the views stated in Huck Finn are not those of Mark Twain. I've heard that this is a popular debate among literary critics. What do you think?
Plainly, Twain's purpose in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was not to present his opinion about broad social issues that continued to confound people in his day, but to entertain them with an amusing, picaresque tale that touches upon timeless subjects such as freedom as seen through the eyes of a highly particularized character.


I will add more as I come across them. I really hope I'm not boring you all to death here. :-k


Disclaimer:
All quotes cited thus far in this post were originally written by Roger Moore in "Huckleberry Finn: An Overview", which can be found on enotes.com.
 
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Jolly McJollyson

Senior Member
This irks me a little, yes, but not NEARLY as much as Jane Smiley's essay on Huck Finn. I find it trite, superficial, vague, and, in some instances, flat out ignorant.
 

krazyklassykat

Senior Member
Jolly McJollyson said:
This irks me a little, yes, but not NEARLY as much as Jane Smiley's essay on Huck Finn. I find it trite, superficial, vague, and, in some instances, flat out ignorant.

I'm sorry... which part irks you?
First off, is it me or Roger Moore? :???:

I shall look up that essay... is it available for free? I'm writing a paper and I want to include at least one essay that I absolutely do not agree with. Just for fun. So I'll see how I feel about that one.
 

Jolly McJollyson

Senior Member
Haha, Roger Moore, don't worry.

There's a lot of fallacious, and nigh on BAD, criticism out there on Huck Finn.

EDIT: Didn't Roger Moore play James Bond?
 

Jolly McJollyson

Senior Member
krazyklassykat said:
I shall look up that essay... is it available for free? I'm writing a paper and I want to include at least one essay that I absolutely do not agree with. Just for fun. So I'll see how I feel about that one.
Free I'm not sure of. I found it in the Second Edition Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, edited by Gerald Graff and James Phelan.
 

Hodge

pliable
Senior Member
Yes. And he was BETTER than Sean connery, dammit! And both are better than the last three... Bleh.
 

krazyklassykat

Senior Member
Jolly McJollyson said:
Haha, Roger Moore, don't worry.

There's a lot of fallacious, and nigh on BAD, criticism out there on Huck Finn.

EDIT: Didn't Roger Moore play James Bond?

Haha yeah. No wonder it sounded familiar... I don't think it's the same guy though. 0_o But you never know.
 

Hodge

pliable
Senior Member
At the close of the essay, Moore states an opinion that the views stated in Huck Finn are not those of Mark Twain. I've heard that this is a popular debate among literary critics. What do you think?

Ack! I hate this one! Twain clearly states in the beginning of Huck Finn that he doesn't want this, but is he telling the truth? He tells the reader not to look for any deeper meaning, which, of course, causes us to think about what the deeper meaning could be. Not to mention it's Mark Twain who says this, not Samuel Clemens. So there's already a deeper layer right there.
 

Jolly McJollyson

Senior Member
Hodge said:
Yes. And he was BETTER than Sean connery, dammit! And both are better than the last three... Bleh.
WHOA WHOA WHOA...

Better than Connery!?

Moore was always winking at the camera like an idiot. That Sean Connery, though. What a Bond.
 

krazyklassykat

Senior Member
Hodge said:
Ack! I hate this one! Twain clearly states in the beginning of Huck Finn that he doesn't want this, but is he telling the truth? He tells the reader not to look for any deeper meaning, which, of course, causes us to think about what the deeper meaning could be. Not to mention it's Mark Twain who says this, not Samuel Clemens. So there's already a deeper layer right there.

So, do you think Twain does use Huck Finn as a device for his opinions? Or do you think Clemens does...?
 

Hodge

pliable
Senior Member
Moore was suave and British. Connery was rough and Scottish.

Of course, I don't really like James Bond.
 

Hodge

pliable
Senior Member
krazyklassykat said:
So, do you think Twain does use Huck Finn as a device for his opinions? Or do you think Clemens does...?

Clemens uses his works as a device for his opinions, and he puts Twain in between himself to make him seem more credible. If he isn't writing about how the south sucks, then if anyone gets that from the piece it's not his fault, right? But if he says that, he's being dishonest and loses his credibility if word gets out he lied. Solution? He writes as Twain, who isn't lying when he says there's nothing deeper or satirical in his story.
 

krazyklassykat

Senior Member
Hodge said:
Of course, I don't really like James Bond.
*Waits for a million invisible people to appear and begin brandishing torches and pitchforks at Hodge*

Please keep your torches away from my essay, people...
 
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krazyklassykat

Senior Member
Hodge said:
Clemens uses his works as a device for his opinions, and he puts Twain in between himself to make him seem more credible. If he isn't writing about how the south sucks, then if anyone gets that from the piece it's not his fault, right? But if he says that, he's being dishonest and loses his credibility if word gets out he lied. Solution? He writes as Twain, who isn't lying when he says there's nothing deeper or satirical in his story.

Ahhh... I see. I'd never really thought about that before..
 

Jolly McJollyson

Senior Member
Hodge said:
Clemens uses his works as a device for his opinions, and he puts Twain in between himself to make him seem more credible. If he isn't writing about how the south sucks, then if anyone gets that from the piece it's not his fault, right? But if he says that, he's being dishonest and loses his credibility if word gets out he lied. Solution? He writes as Twain, who isn't lying when he says there's nothing deeper or satirical in his story.
EXACTLY!

Not to mention the "disclaimer" at the beginning only makes the reader wonder about and look harder for the underlying message. (Though you don't have to look that hard in Huck Finn).

The one thing I REALLY disagree about with most critics is the accusation that Huck Finn, as a novel, falters and collapses during, I believe, the last twelve chapters. But NONE of the advocates of this idea takes into account that Tom Sawyer reappears in the text at this point. His childlike, romantic, fantasy-driven mind drags the text down after such an adult story. It's Clemens's own acknowledgement of the end of the time for such child-like mentalities. But I've yet to see a SINGLE critic take that into account. It really bothers me.
 

krazyklassykat

Senior Member
Jolly McJollyson said:
EXACTLY!

Not to mention the "disclaimer" at the beginning only makes the reader wonder about and look harder for the underlying message. (Though you don't have to look that hard in Huck Finn).

The one thing I REALLY disagree about with most critics is the accusation that Huck Finn, as a novel, falters and collapses during, I believe, the last twelve chapters. But NONE of the advocates of this idea takes into account that Tom Sawyer reappears in the text at this point. His childlike, romantic, fantasy-driven mind drags the text down after such an adult story. It's Clemens's own acknowledgement of the end of the time for such child-like mentalities. But I've yet to see a SINGLE critic take that into account. It really bothers me.

Wow. I'd never really thought about that before, either. Gee I sure hope the ability to pick out these minute connections comes with time. :pale:
Now that you mention it, though, I agree. I don't think I could have said it better.
 

Hodge

pliable
Senior Member
Well, it's juxtaposition. You have all this harsh reality that Huck fixes using ingenuity and some luck (and the classic, classic dressing up as a girl bit), then you have Tom Sawyer who looks at a real problem as if it were a game and treats it as such. Freeing poor Jim isn't the object; having an adventure is. It's definitely comedic, but sad at the same time. I don't think it breaks down at the end. There's a marked shift in the book where Twain starts writing again after like a decade (right after the scene where they lose the raft, I think), but that's all.
 

krazyklassykat

Senior Member
Revisiting something, though...
I still really don't understand what Moore means here:
In contrast to Jim, who conceives freedom in positive terms, feeling "trembly and feverish" as they approach the free northern state of Illinois, Huck sees freedom in terms of the absence of external compulsion.
 

Hodge

pliable
Senior Member
He means that Jim sees freedom as the ability to do anything, while Huck sees freedom as the ability to not have to do anything.
 
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