After reading that writers like Ernest Hemingway lavished praise on Mark Twain for writing “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” I decided that I needed to read the book all the way through.
Hemingway wrote in 1934: “The good writers are Henry James, Stephen Crane, and Mark Twain. That’s not the order they’re good in. There is no order for good writers…. All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ If you read it you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. But it’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.”
H.L. Mencken wrote in 1913, “I believe that ‘Huckleberry Finn’ is one of the great masterpieces of the world, that it is the full equal of ‘Don Quixote‘ and ‘Robinson Crusoe,’ that it is vastly better than Gil Blas, ‘Tristram Shandy,’ ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ or ‘Tom Jones.’ “
If those two great American writers had such nice hings to say about “Huckleberry Finn.” I figure I need to read it, and I have found the best way for me to do it. I am listening to the audiobook version as I walk two miles every day. Patrick Fraley does a brilliant job of reading it, using many different voices to portray the characters. I’m beginning to see why some people consider it the “Great American Novel.” As you probably know, it has been banned a number of times over the years. The first time that happened Twain was pleased, saying the banning would sell an additional 25,000 copies. No doubt subsequent bannings have also sold a lot of copies.