Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is one of my all-time faves. I don’t think I’m alone when it comes to loving this book. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

“All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn.” – Ernest Hemingway

Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Intended at first as a simple story of a boy’s adventures in the Mississippi Valley – a sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – the book grew and matured under Twain’s hand into a work of immeasurable richness and complexity. More than a century after its publication, the critical debate over the symbolic significance of Huck’s and Jim’s voyage is still fresh, and it remains a major work that can be enjoyed at many levels: as an incomparable adventure story and as a classic of American humor.

Well that pretty much says it all. I honestly can’t remember the first time I read this. But I must have been young since I remember dressing up as Huck for Halloween when I was in the fifth grade. All the other kids were jealous of my corn cob pipe.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t get this novel completely when I was a kid. It’s like the Looney Tune cartoons. Funny to children, but as an adult you see the cartoons through different eyes and understand just how hilarious the stunts are and what the artists were saying about society.

This novel has one of the greatest lines in it, in my opinion. Please note that the following contains a huge spoiler. When Huck thinks that he and Jim will be safe and that Jim will be freed from slavery, Huck realizes that he helped Jim escape. As a slave, Jim is someone else’s property, and Huck essentially stole from that person. He sits down to write a letter to Miss Watson, Jim’s owner, telling her where to find her property. Then he starts to remember his time with Jim. All the fun they had and all the times Jim was there for him. Huck says, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell” and then he tears up the letter. The irony is beautiful since Huck learns to see Jim as a man not as a slave, yet he still thinks he’s in the wrong, when in fact, slavery was an abomination.

Several years ago I had the chance to visit Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, Connecticut. At this home, he worked on this masterpiece. It was amazing to stand in the room where Twain wrote parts of Huck Finn. This will sound silly for some, but it was one of the best times of my life. To stand there and soak it in. This week the travel photos show Twain’s house so stayed tune.

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About TBM

Recently I entered the world of self-publishing with my novel, A Woman Lost. Follow me on my indie publishing adventure on tbmarkinson.wordpress.com. Follow my challenge to travel to 192 countries, read 1,001 books, and watch AFI's top 100 movies on 50yearproject.wordpress.com
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72 Responses to Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

  1. cupitonians says:

    I read them as a kid and I remember loving it and being deeply moved by it. I wonder what it would be like to read it now. I might challenge myself to it.

  2. helgamatos89 says:

    Sometimes I become astonished with coincidences.. Yesterday night I was looking for free ebooks in portuguese and I click “mundial classics”.. I didn’t stay that long in that website, because now I have other ebooks to read, but I remenber the title.. And just now I saw your post and I found it very similar. I went back to the same website and here it was ” As Aventuras de Huckleberry Finn”
    Now I am pretty curious to read (that’s why I stop reading your post when you said that you’re going to be spoiler.. eheh

    greetings
    Helga

    • TBM says:

      Yes, don’t read the spoiler. And don’t you love coincidences–sometimes they give me goosebumps. I hope you enjoy if you read this one. I love it.

  3. bulldog says:

    Wow I remember reading this oh so many years ago…

  4. calmgrove says:

    I remember Tom’s story more than Huck’s, but that’s down to reading both when I was very young. Time for a re-appraisal!

  5. The only better American novel may be Moby Dick (Depends on the year which one is first and which one is first -).
    When and if you do reread Tom, remember it is truly a children’s book ( a great one). The Hobbit to LOTR.

  6. Colline says:

    I also read this when I was much younger. I think this is one of those books that I need to retread as an adult.

  7. Yeah, hard not to love this novel. I must have read it last when I was in junior high. Thanks for the reminder about Huck’s great line.

    Hope your week is going well, TB! Looking forward to the photos.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

  8. Love that book and loved Tom Sawyer, too. In TS is the best opening line ever. Who can’t read on when the first line is “Tom!” No answer. “Tom!” No answer. Perhaps it’s my love for both those novels that I was led to do my master’s thesis on the author reader relationships in the picaresque genre that originated in Spain with Lazarillo de Tormes, El Buscón and found expression with Moll Flanders in English and El periquillo sarniento in Mexico. The scene you recounted above is classic to the picaresque genre. The pícaro, a rogue in society, usually if not always wins over its readers. What a delight to read your post and what HF means to you.

    • TBM says:

      that sounds like a fun thesis to work on. I need to look into the works you mentioned. I know Moll Flanders is on my list, but not sure about the others. Huck is a great character: one that makes me laugh, cheer for, and cry.

  9. Mark Twain was a really great author. I love the way he puts humor with serious meanings and reality into his stories. My favorite would have to be A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend it! 🙂 And also, I’ll be waiting for your photos of Twain’s house! 🙂

  10. It doesn’t sound silly to me at all how you felt standing in Mark Twain’s house. I totally understand! It’s like how incredibly moved I felt when I stood in Anne Frank’s tiny bedroom and imagined her sitting there writing in her diary. I was overcome with emotion.

    • TBM says:

      Oh Anne Frank’s house was an emotional experience for me. As soon as the tour wrapped up, I headed to the bathroom to blow my nose and dab my eyes. No one should every experience what she and her family experienced. And then she died right before liberation. Heartbreaking!

  11. I love the character Jim and how Huck transforms into more of an adult than the adults around him.

  12. i remember reading this book and thinking what a great adventure it would be while still realizing i’d never make it on my own like he could. independence sounded out of reach.

  13. Incem says:

    I decided to become Mark Twain’s fan after reading several chapters of this novel. I love the style so much, the boyish tone! 😀

  14. I’ve yet to read this. My grade school was not big on assigning us the classics, possibly because the nuns that taught us were all senile bats. My high school was Holy Slut High and their goal was to reduce the number of pregnancies. Your overview of this novel makes me want to read it, but I am so behind in so much right now I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures. I’m much better at making time for watching.

  15. Rorybore says:

    A great book — truly one of the greatest novels of our time. I cannot wait for my son to read it. He’s almost done Harry Potter (he’s 9) and I am chomping at the bit for him to finish so I can get him started on this one. I’ve even been letting him stay up late to read — whoops! But I love that I birthed a reader!! I can’t help it.
    I’ll be happy if he chooses Treasure Island too. Or Call of the Wild.
    Thank goodness he already The Hobbit in the summer of the poor kid would never get sleep with all the books I keep passing to him!

    • TBM says:

      I loved the Harry Potter series. I haven’t read Call of the Wild (it’s on my 1001 list), but Treasure Island and The Hobbit are must reads for a 9 year old. Oh I’m so excited for him. Sleep? Do readers need sleep?

  16. Thank you, TBM. Somehow I missed reading this great book, and have always intended to correct that grave omission. The time is now.

  17. elisa ruland says:

    Great review, you’ve enticed me to read Huck Finn again!

  18. Have read it many times..and have always loved it

  19. I remember reading this book in high school and enjoying it a lot. I really need to purchase my own copy someday so I can re-read it…

  20. Darlene says:

    I think it is great to reread the classics as an adult. You tend to get so much more out of them.Mark Twain had an amazing way with words.

  21. IsobelandCat says:

    I had to read this at school as a pre-teen. I recall enjoying it, but nothing whatsoever about the story. Perhaps time for a reread.
    I believe Mark Twain visited Walworth, Lomdon.

    • TBM says:

      Really. I knew he was abroad for quite some time after experiencing financial difficulties, but didn’t know he went to Walworth. I need to look into that.

  22. Jo Bryant says:

    I did read this as a kid…but it looks like I will have to try again. Though with over 600 books on my kindle the pressure is getting to me. You’re right you know…insomnia is a blessing…tehe…now, what’s this I hear about you swanning around over at Isobel’s ???? Hope you are dry and safe…and WTH is a wind up radio ???

    • TBM says:

      600! I never thought I would like a kindle but now that book lovers can have 600 books with them at all times, what’s not to like.

      Isobel and I met for real a couple of years ago and have become buddies. She’s a lovely lady and has helped me settle into this new country. And she knows some really good pubs. The sun is out today and not a cloud in the sky. not sure how long it will last but for now all of us are enjoying it. Have a great weekend.

      • Jo Bryant says:

        I was quite snobbish about the whole ‘kindle’ idea at first…now I am besotted with the thing. And there are so many free books out there. I can even borrow from my library these days. I just added a whole slew of research books for The Book. And with the one The Daughter got me it is like a mini laptop, so if I go somewhere and don’t want to drag the laptop…the kindle helps me keep up with blogs, research sites, I can check facebook [maybe not really a good thing], listen to music, even write…so long as it isn’t great swags of stuff.
        So glad the sun is out for you lot. Now…please…explain the bloddy ‘wind up radios’, if you will.
        😉

      • TBM says:

        I have no idea about the wind up radio. Will ask Isobel the next time we meet.

  23. read this book when I was about 12 and loved it–thanks for reminding me of it

  24. Geoff W says:

    I’m glad this one is on my Classics Club List, but I just looked and for some reason I only have this one and Roughing It and surprisingly not The Adventures of Tom Sawyer even though I think I’ve read this one and not it.

  25. Novroz says:

    I heard so much of this but haven’t read it yet. I think I have seen a movie of this once but coyldn’t remember anymore.

    Isn’t Mark Twain also the writer of Oliver? I havr tried reading that one and stopped after 5 pages.

  26. I’m with you on every word. It’s been so many years since I read Huckleberry Finn and I really want to reread this book. It’s interesting that you mentioned you had such a different experience when you read it the first time. I know The Great Gatsby went completely over my head when I read it in high school. Maybe it’s a disservice to teenagers and they shouldn’t read these classics until they’re in college.

    • TBM says:

      The Great Gatsby is probably my favorite book. It’s hard to say for sure since ten others just popped into my head–but it’s a wonderful book. I didn’t read it until college and I think I was still too young.

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