P.S. Mark Twain's Notes for Huckleberry Finn
"...like the fragments of glass when you look in at the wrong end of a kaleidoscope."
Mark Twain was a controversial figure in his own lifetime— his most enduring work, Huckleberry Finn, was banned by libraries as soon as it was published. Some nineteenth-century librarians felt that Huck set a bad example for readers. He was unpolished and kept questionable company, they said, as they declared “the whole book being more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people.”1
Just like other books that have been banned, Huck Finn invites uncomfortable conversations. As usual, Toni Morrison put it best:
For a hundred years, the argument that this novel is has been identified, re-identified, examined, waged and advanced. What it cannot be is dismissed. It is classic literature, which is to say it heaves, manifests and lasts.2
As we approach Banned Book Week, let’s look at Twain’s notes for Huckleberry Finn and how he created a novel that remains just as popular as it is controversial.
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