Mark Twain American Literature Analysis
Twain’s general reputation as one of the most admired, and possibly the most beloved, writer in America is based, in the main, upon the work he published before 1890. After that time, his work takes on a much darker hue. The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, published in 1894, though still a book of some comic mishap, marks the obvious pessimism that was to pervade his work until his death. Indeed, some materials left unpublished during his lifetime, such as “The Mysterious Stranger” stories, published posthumously, bear very little resemblance to the sunny idealization of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
Twain was, however, always more than simply a comic entertainer, and it should be remembered that as early as The Innocents Abroad, he responds to human error, on occasion, with quick satiric thrusts that remind one of eighteenth century English satirist Jonathan Swift. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is reasonably free from such tonal darkening, but Adventures of Huckleberry Finn certainly is not. In order to appreciate fully the greatness of the latter novel, it is necessary to go beyond a sense of triumph in Huck’s conversion to an outright defender of Jim to an understanding of the kind of world that threatens both the slave and the boy.
The confidence men of the novel, completely insensitive to the pain they cause, may be an obvious example of Twain’s sense of evil in the world, but that...
(The entire section is 7579 words.)
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