Wednesday, September 28

The Banned Adventures of Huck Finn

It's no wonder Mark Twain laughed at people who read (or claimed to have read) his classic book, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and wanted it banned.

Like many of his works, it's a satire.
sat·ire [sat-ahyuhr]
1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc. 
2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3. a literary genre comprising such compositions.
Twain was an ardent abolitionist who said, “Lincoln's Proclamation ... not only set the black slaves free, but set the white man free also." 

He deliberately wrote Huck Finn to illustrate the evils of slavery and racism. (Huck Finn was published 20 years after the end of the Civil War. Slavery was gone but not racism.)

One example was both Huck and Jim run away: Huck from an abusive father and Jim from slavery. This parallel was to draw attention to the fact that while some thought Huck's running away was perfectly justified, Jim's was not.

Huck Finn was banned shortly after its 1885 U.S. publication in many locations.
As usual, Twain fired back at his critics,
"I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote 'Tom Sawyer' and 'Huck Finn' for adults exclusively, and it always distressed me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean. I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeased bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again on this side of the grave."
When his book Eve's Diary was banned in 1906 from the Charlton Public Library Twain said,
"the truth is, that when a library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn't anger me."
What's funny is that the use of the now controversial N-word was not what made Adventures of Huckleberry Finn controversial back in its day. What made it controversial was Huck actually sweated!

And scratched!

(The proper word would have been "perspired." Uh huh. Obviously the critics hadn't spent much time by the Mississippi River!)

Oh, and as for the above dictionary listing? Did you know the dictionary (the dictionary!) has been banned in some places because it contains words not appropriate for young children?

Kinda makes me want to go read the dictionary next....

1 comment:

  1. Addie you read the best books. Mark Twain used the N word on purpose because the book is told from Huck's point-of-view and Huck was brought up to think that word was OK but as he gets to know Jim, he realizes that Jim is a person just like him. It's sad that people don't understand. It's awesome that you can time travel and get your hands on all these great books in their original state.