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Registered: ‎10-27-2006
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Hemingway on Twain

hemingway said that all modern American literature comes from Huck Finn book.
Can you say why?


------spoiler-----

He also thought that the real end of the book is where the nig-er Jim is stolen from the boys. Well, in this case I prefer the happy end even if it might be a bit too idylic considerign the hard reality. I am not sure I could live easily with the end EH suggested. Why do you think he said so?

ziki
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KristyR
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Re: Hemingway on Twain

Even though it may have been more realistic, I'm glad Twain had a different vision than Hemingway. What an awful ending after all they had gone through! I'm not really surprised that Hemingway had this opinion though. I admit I've only read 4 things by him, so I'm no expert, but none of them left me with a good feeling in the end. Whether they are realistic or not, he doesn't strike me as someone who likes happy endings.
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Re: Hemingway on Twain

That is true....many times EH leaves things in the open (I am thinking of some short stories) and he is not one to flag for happy ends, neither did he do so in his own life.

What it would imply is that the society didn't come out of the slavery so idyllicaly, easily and in that respect perhaps EH is more realistic.

But Twain's book is 'whole' the way I see it. It is not EH's book. The whole book is different and it would be a bit arrogant IMHO if EH tried to rewrite the end. Either he thinks it is the best book or he doesn't, but EH wants to employ his own conditions. Also times changed....
For me the book would feel unfinished if it ended the way EH suggested.

ziki
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JesseBC
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Hemingway on Twain

I think it's important to consider the source and that Mark Twain wasn't exactly the King of Happy Endings himself.

Not knowing the context of the comparison, what comes to mind is that at least the duke and king's betrayal of Jim was honest (if ironic, considering they're con artists) -- they sold him out for money. Whereas Tom and Huck are just playing games with him in the service of fun and adventure and the high-minded ideas that Tom's gotten from too many romantic novels.

For that matter, can the ending of Huck Finn really be considered "happy"? Not only has Jim been a free man all along, but Tom has known it all this time. That's pretty dark commentary on human society for a supposedly happy ending.

Either way, I think it's reading too much into it to say that Hemingway was trying to re-write the novel.
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JesseBC
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Re: Hemingway on Twain

I had another thought on Huck Finn as the Great American Novel or on Hemingway's comment.

Huck's journey could be seen as the journey of America itself.

In the positive sense of the journey to reinvent oneself (which I've mentioned before on another thread), but also quite literally in the utopian sense of leaving civilization behind "in order to form a more perfect union."

And then in the negative sense that this idealism is ultimately undermined by a whole host of human factors -- bigotry, superstition, small-mindedness, obedience to ridiculous conventions, charlatans, and fools who are taken in by these charlatans.

It's a very idealistic portrait of America and an acknowledgment that this idealism is doomed the way real life and human failure will always intrude on utopian dreams.
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KristyR
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Huck's/America's Journey



JesseBC wrote:
I had another thought on Huck Finn as the Great American Novel or on Hemingway's comment.

Huck's journey could be seen as the journey of America itself.

In the positive sense of the journey to reinvent oneself (which I've mentioned before on another thread), but also quite literally in the utopian sense of leaving civilization behind "in order to form a more perfect union."

And then in the negative sense that this idealism is ultimately undermined by a whole host of human factors -- bigotry, superstition, small-mindedness, obedience to ridiculous conventions, charlatans, and fools who are taken in by these charlatans.

It's a very idealistic portrait of America and an acknowledgment that this idealism is doomed the way real life and human failure will always intrude on utopian dreams.


I hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes sense. I always wondered why it was considered the Great American Novel, it's a good story but... Comparing Huck's journey to America's definitely gives it more scope and depth. Thanks!
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