Mark Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Desperate to escape his abusive father and the constraints of the civilized life, young Huck Finn fakes his death and, with the help of his slave friend Jim, embarks on a vagabond life rafting down the Mississippi River. Yet life is anything but carefree for Huck and Jim. Their travels bring them into contact with scores of rogues, rascals, ruffians, hucksters, and law-abiding citizens who would as soon seen Jim returned to his owners and Huck to his Pa. Looking out for each other, Huck and Jim forge a bond that protects them from the prejudices and bigotry of their time and place, and a society whose rules and regulations seem as perplexing as they are inflexible.

By turns hilarious and heartwarming, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, first published in 1884, is considered Mark Twain’s masterpiece and one of the greatest novels written on the nineteenth-century American experience.


The first ban of Mark Twain’s American classic in Concord, MA in 1885 called it “trash and suitable only for the slums.” Objections to the book have evolved, but only marginally. Twain’s book is one of the most-challenged of all time and is frequently challenged even today because of its frequent use of the word “nigger.” Otherwise it is alleged the book is “racially insensitive,” “oppressive,” and “perpetuates racism.” (

I listened to Huck Finn on audiobook several years ago when I had a job that was primarily filing. I remember being terribly confused by the plot because it simultaneously didn’t seem to go anywhere and everywhere at the same time. I figured it was just my inattention to audiobooks and decided I’d try again later to actually read it.

Flash forward to present day, when my handsome leatherbound copy has been sitting unread on my shelf for 3 years now. I have been dreading the reread of this famous novel, but I knew it must be done eventually. Since this week is Banned Book Week, I decided now is as good a time as ever. Grumble Grumble.

Unfortunately, I am apparently still one of the very few people in the world of literature who dislike The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The plot still simultaneously goes nowhere and everywhere at the same time, and the dialects are near impossible to read in visual format (that WAS easier to listen to via audiobook). I mean, even Twain himself says by way of dedication:

Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot.

I still haven’t read Tom Sawyer. I know some day I must, but I will drag my feet even harder now. Can you see the ruts?


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