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Terrific work. Thank you very much. BUMP!
I read Life on the Mississippi as a kid.
The part about learning the river as the streets of New York, and changing them monthly.
I recall that to this day, although I have not read that book in over 50 years.
You have done a great piece of work here! So far I’ve scanned, but also saved for in-depth reading. I recently mailed a letter to the White House to tell President Trump about the great similarity in character between him and the main character of the book “The Navigator” by the late Morris West, one of my favorite authors. I have it in an original hard version and sent my letter with a color copy of the dust cover. The book is all about perseverance and leadership amid a maddening group of troublesome fellow shipwreck mates. Sound familiar? I hope you send your fabulous Mark Twain study to the President, too.
Wow! ...and thanks, mod.
President Trump & Mark Twain: Master Pilots on America's Great River
Free Republic ^ | 8/18/2019 | PoconoPundit
Thank you, poconopundit.
My experience as a youth reading Huckleberry Finn, however, differed greatly from yours:
Unlike your experience, I was utterly "thrilled" by Huckleberry Finn as a prepubescent kid when I read it several times. I've picked it up again many times and and I am unfailingly thrilled again as a grown man. I disagree with you, it is indeed a brilliant kids' book that every boy who fidgets in the constraints of school can immediately identify with. But, as you say, it is also in adults' book. That is the genius of the book, it forces us to a new vision of our world by making us see the world through the eyes of a boy, a technique not unlike that used by science fiction writers who create a new paradigm to expose old myths. Mark Twain was so brilliant that he could write a book for two very different audiences yet captivate each. In doing so, Mark Twain tackled the most important issue in American history.
Life on the Mississippi is an evocative book of an age gone by, brilliantly, nostalgically, realistically written but it simply does not soar to the level of the Great American novel as does Huckleberry Finn
From a 13-year-old reply of mine:
a masterpiece of American letters. Huckleberry Finn is arguably the greatest American novel ever written.
The irony of all this is that Mark Twain in this uniquely American work has undertaken seriously and sensitively to deal with the unique American original sin. As I have observed in my about page, the sin of slavery and, after the war, the sin of racism was in effect papered over in the Declaration of Independence and compromised away in the Constitution. Mark Twain deals with this uniquely American history in a uniquely American book, written in the uniquely American idiom. [That is why I also take issue with your description of Huckleberry Finn as a book of "American-slang." The use of the American idiom is absolutely critical to the fundamental historic question that has challenged the American ethos to this very day]. That idiom, to be truly American, requires the use in that context of the word nigger. Moreover, both plot and character developement - which is the awakening of tolerance personified in Huck Finn-require the sensitive use of the word. If Huckleberry Finn were not a bigot to begin with, he would have no need to be edified. Both he and America would have learned nothing.
No one who boasts of any acquaintanceship whatever with American letters can have failed to have read, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Chapter 31 of the novel makes the ultimate argument against slavery and against racism, done in the American idiom, and sent in time and place. It is the essence of the novel and it is the essence of America's moral struggle:
Miss Watson your runaway nigger Jim is down here two mile below Pikesville and Mr. Phelps has got him and he will give him up for the reward if you send.
I'd see him standing my watch on top of his'n, stead of calling me, so I could go on sleeping; and see him how glad he was when I come back out of the fog; and when I come to him agin in the swamp, up there where the feud was; and such-like times; and would always call me honey, and pet me, and do everything he could think of for me, and how good he always was; and at last I struck the time I saved him by telling the men we had smallpox aboard, and he was so grateful, and said I was the best friend old Jim ever had in the world, and the only one he's got now; and then I happened to look around, and see that paper.
It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:
"All right, then, I'll go to hell"- and tore it up.
It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. I shoved the whole thing out of my head; and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, being brung up to it, and the other warn't. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that, too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog.
As to comparisons of Twain to Trump, I would simply observe that Twain was at heart certainly no conservative, at best he might be described a modern day libertarian. Probably he might in some respect be likened to the curmudgeonly Baltimore columnist, HL Mencken. This from a reply in 2015:
Twain was certainly an iconoclast and rebel his entire life.
He was a deserter from service in the Confederate militia in the Civil War and fled to the far West. Even his earliest writings reflect an ability to see the mirror image of life. I think Twain was, as he suggests, a pessimist. Certainly, personal tragedies such as the death of his child deepened his darkest perceptions.
If one looks at Huckleberry Finn which is a searing indictment of slavery, its brilliance lies partly in the fact that Twain works his magic by writing the mirror image of his intended result. For example, Huck Finn's decision that he will commit a mortal sin and go to hell by being a friend to "Nigger Jim" leaves the reader to reverse the logic and in doing so penetrate the veil of rationalization which had sustained slavery and Jim Crow.
Huckleberry Finn is perhaps the great American novel as Hemmingway said (I agree) because Twain makes the reader really part of the process of grappling with America's original sin but he gives the devil every advantage yet still succeeds in making all of us believers.
The irony of modern race baiters agitating to remove Huckleberry Finn from libraries because it contains the word "Nigger" is very sad.
A final personal word, on an early visit to Germany I was kindly put up by a German family overnight in their spare attic bedroom where I came across A Tramp Abroad and found the essay The Awful German Language which set me howling with laughter because I was then in the throes of trying to master that awful, fascinating language. Later, I discovered that there was a recording rendered by a German and free for the listening under the Gutenberg Press website but decided that an American version of "American-slang" was the way an essay about an American amusingly stepping all over himself trying to master a difficult language, while at the same time shifting all of the blame from himself onto the language itself, deserved an attempt by an American so I recorded it.
The Awful German Language offers another reversal, a writing technique of which Twain was an absolute master. The entire theme of Huckleberry Finn culminates in the reversal in the mind of Huckleberry Finn as quoted above.
Master pilots is correct....
“Twain” literally means “two.” As a riverboat pilot, Clemens would have heard the term, “Mark Twain,” which means “two fathoms,” on a regular basis. According to the UC Berkeley Library, Clemens first used this pseudonym in 1863, when he was working as a newspaper reporter in Nevada, long after his riverboat days.
When I watched the McCain funeral it showcased the elitist shallowness of Washington DC... the opposite of the Trump effect... Out-of-touch elites showing up in their finery for McCain, ensconced in a cold elegant cathedral clutching speeches written by others... But there were no citizens lining the streets - no one saying their good byes as the hearse drove by - - either in Arizona or DC...
When Trump dies ‘the elites’ and their speech writers will be absent but the people will line every street with love and respect and sorrow.
Mark Twain's funeral was a celebration of his life by people from all walks of life:
When the people had been filing past only a few minutes it could be seen that almost every nationality was represented. There were several negroes. Jervis Langdon, who was standing near the head of the coffin, was much interested in one of the persons who passed him. He said that the man looked the very picture of tramphood, but his bearing was easy, and he seemed to be unconscious of his tattered clothes, stopping for along look at he face of Mark Twain. Mr. Paine also saw him, and said he was probably some one who had seen better days, in which he had read Mark Twain and conceived a liking for his work. All religions were represented. Some of those who passed crossed themselves as they did so.
Hey EveningStar. Another one for your collection...