US/UK Kindle Classic
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
I am going to start this blog with one of my favorite books, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. There is a lot of great classic literature available free for Kindle. Unfortunately it is not always easy to find and free is not always worth it.
In the case of Huckleberry Finn, the novel is offered free in 7 pieces, but you have to buy the ending, which is part 8. Gotcha!
Samuel Clemens would surely appreciate that. It is bizarre. This is not such a long book, that it would need to be split up . . .I think it is a legacy from years ago when files had to be smaller to be easily downloaded and those files have just been converted as is to Kindle rather than edited into one file. If War and Peace (see a later blog) can be one file, surely The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn can be too!
So alongside the "free" copies, I also offer an inexpensive copy that costs the same as part 8 and includes the novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Here is an excerpt. This is at a funeral:
"Then in about two seconds we heard a whack, and the dog he finished up with a most amazing howl or two, and then everything was dead still, and the parson begun his solemn talk where he left off. In a minute or two here comes this undertaker's back and shoulders gliding along the wall again; and so he glided and glided around three sides of the room, and then rose up, and shaded his mouth with his hands, and stretched his neck out towards the preacher, over the people's heads, and says, in a kind of a coarse whisper, "He had a rat!" Then he drooped down and glided along the wall again to his place. You could see it was a great satisfaction to the people, because naturally they wanted to know. A little thing like that don't cost nothing, and it's just the little things that makes a man to be looked up to and liked. There warn't no more popular man in town than what that undertaker was."
Through the miracle of Blogger, I am allowed to re-edit my blogs and still post them in the order they were first published. I confess I was a coward when I wrote this and did not mention the liberal use on the "N" word, due primarily to the use of it as part of a former slave's name: "N" Jim. I do not like to see this word in print.
But I have read this book many times. It may be the first real American novel. It is certainly one of the best and is head and shoulder above Tom Sawyer. Huck celebrates the subversiveness of childhood that we would prefer our children not act out. Huck is the archetypal "bad influence" whereas Tom is the kid next door who is just all boy. Both need to be first read when you are a child. And although Tom Sawyer will probably be fondly set aside, you may still want to journey down the river with Huck and Jim when you are retired.
I have been afraid for many years that Huck, that must lively of American characters, would pass from our collective consciousness because it is too difficult to teach the book in school. How do you explain that a word is OK in this book, but not that, and never OK in speech. It is word so ugly it doesn't even need to be thought, let alone read out loud.
And in the mid-60's in my segregated school in the North (segregated because the rumor was you had to be white to live in our blue collar school district), I got in trouble for using the "N" word while reading "Huckleberry Finn" out loud to my 5th grade class. I was a student, not a teacher, and was sharing my favorite book during a read out loud session.
"But," I protested. I wanted to say I would never use that word, except to read it. My beloved teacher, who had to be very familiar with the book, cut me off. "You never use that word." He was ashamed of me.
Now thanks to "New South Books" and editor Alan Gribben, "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" has been removed from the "too toxic to teach" shelf and placed back in the hands of young readers. (It is published, but not for Kindle.) They replaced the ugly "N" word with the word "slave." That is also an ugly word, but it is easier to teach. And when these new lovers of Mark Twain grow up, maybe they will reach for the original or maybe they will be satisfied by what New South Books has done. Mark Twain was pretty subversive, he took a black man, a slave and made him into a person, a hero - not someone to be ignored or mistreated. I don't think he would have wanted his book to be shelved because we followed him and have now passed him.
I believe by adding an edited edition of this book, readership will increase for the original edition.