Huck Finn’s Evasion

I’ve been reading the annotations and introduction by Michael Patrick Hearn in his “Annotated Huckleberry Finn”.  That edition is a tour de force, and entirely engrossing.  You want context for Twain’s novel, you get it, in rich detail. Hearn is not a fan of the final section of the book, in which Tom Sawyer concocts … Continue reading Huck Finn’s Evasion

Huck and the ladies

Finishing “Huckleberry Finn,” it struck me that there’s no romance in the story, not even a steady female character. So in this respect the novel is somewhat similar to “Moby-Dick”, its main historical contender for the “title” of Great American Novel.  But Huck doesn’t quite go as far as Moby in casting off the ladies. … Continue reading Huck and the ladies

Finishing Huckleberry Finn

September 27, 2021 I’ve finished “Huckleberry Finn,” and I want to go straight to the controversial ending, in which Tom Sawyer reappears.  It’s painful to read of all that Jim is subjected to, all because Don Quixote – excuse me, Tom Sawyer – feels the need to stage a dramatic rescue of the kind that … Continue reading Finishing Huckleberry Finn

Starting Huckleberry Finn

September 23, 2021 I’ve taken years to read “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn“, because of its darn reputation. The back cover of my 1985 Penguin edition quotes Hemingway’s famous line, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn”.  Further down we read that “Of all the contenders for the title … Continue reading Starting Huckleberry Finn

Tom Sawyer

Having read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books earlier this year, and now reading “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” for the first time, it seems to me that Mark Twain produced for boys’ childhood something similar to what Wilder did for girls.  Both have produced an idealized but recognizable memory of childhood in a time … Continue reading Tom Sawyer

The Time Machine

My son recently read a kids’ edition of H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine,” and our house has been busy with this story in various forms. I read the novel some 15 years ago and it remains a favorite. I’ve also seen both of the major adaptations, from 1960 and 2002, and my son and I … Continue reading The Time Machine

Little Women

The following things about Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” have surprised me:  it’s a very Christian work; it’s ridiculously funny; and tremendously erudite. The movies of “Little Women” that I’ve seen don’t give a sense of the following things:  it’s a very Christian work; it’s ridiculously funny; and tremendously erudite. (To be more precise, it’s … Continue reading Little Women

Pilgrim’s Progress

I picked up “Pilgrim’s Progress” only because I was reading “Little Women,” which I found made constant reference to Bunyan’s earlier novel.  So I put down Alcott and started “Pilgrim,” and it was a mixed experience – riveting in many places, but often hard-going.  As often happens when I pick up a new author, the … Continue reading Pilgrim’s Progress


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