Monday, July 6, 2015

BUCKET LIST UPDATE No. 224: Read “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

As best that I can remember, my first exposure to “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was the Moby Books Illustrated Classics version of the tale, which you could order through the Sears catalog in the late 70s and 80s. While this version of the book was pretty good, it wasn’t the real deal, only an edited-for-children version that passed for the real thing.

Later, in my sophomore year of college, my American Lit II class read portions of the book, which was included in our giant-sized Norton Anthology, but we didn’t read the whole thing. “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn” is generally considered to be the finest American novel ever written, and it had always sort of irked me that I couldn’t honestly say that I’d read the complete novel from start to finish, which is why I put it on my bucket list several years ago.

Several months ago, while looking through the used books room at the Monroe County Library in Monroeville, I ran across a complete and unabridged copy of the Aeri Books edition of the novel, which was published in 1985. These paperback editions were widely sold in Wal-Mart across the country for the bargain basement price of two for a dollar. I bought the one I found at the library, started reading it on June 20 and finished reading it on Saturday.

Originally published in 1884, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” is about Huck Finn and his adventures with a slave named Jim and later his sidekick Tom Sawyer. Form most of the novel, Huck, who is around 13 or 14 years old, travel down the river with a pair of con artists known as the “Duke” and the “King.” Later, Huck and Jim pair up with Sawyer, who is visiting his Uncle Silas Phelps.

You’ll find this book on many “best-of” lists. Outside magazine ranked it No. 2 on its list of “30 Books Every Guy Should Read” and the Library of Congress included it on a list called “88 Books That Shaped America.” One of my favorite Web sites, The Art of Manliness, ranked it No. 6 on its list of “50 Best Books for Boys and Young Men,” and No. 44 on its list of “100 Must Read Books: The Man’s Essential Library.” Those are just a few of the “best of” lists you’ll find this novel included on.

I found this book to be laugh-out-loud funny in many parts, and I enjoyed reading it. Twain wrote much of the book in dialect and poked fun at beliefs and superstitions throughout the book, making fun of them to show how ridiculous they are. Huck and Tom also played pranks on the other characters, and descriptions of these pranks are among the funniest portions of the book.

Of course, anyone who knows much about anything about the book, knows that it’s also considered controversial, mainly because of the “N-word” throughout. It’s widely banned in classrooms across the country because of its language and has even been banned in libraries. In the novel’s defense, a close reading of the book reveals that it’s actually non-racist.

In the end, how many of you have read “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”? What did you think about it? Did you like it or not? Let us know in the comments section below.

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