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fanuzzir
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Twain's artistic and moral journey

I hope people will discover some of the deeply thought out artistic decisions and moral struggles that Twain had to go through in writing Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Among authors of the post-bellum era, there was no better person to write such a novel, and no one more shaken by it.
jd
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jd
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey

Is that because of the civil war, the northern aggression and the war between the states? ( I am trying to be politically correct)and its horrific effect on the southern states in the aftermath. Or pre Civil War and the effects of racism and slavery? - jd
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fanuzzir
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey



jd wrote:
Is that because of the civil war, the northern aggression and the war between the states? ( I am trying to be politically correct)and its horrific effect on the southern states in the aftermath. Or pre Civil War and the effects of racism and slavery? - jd


JD, you've really got two historical trends converging on each other in Huck Finn. On the one hand, Twain set the novel in an antebellum south doomed by slavery and steeped in racism. You would think that this might make Twain apologetic, but he wrote Huck Finn during a time when the Old South had become an object of guilt and nostalgia for the northern reading public, and Reconstruction, the post-war project of racial equality, had fallen in disfavor. Twain stood out among many of his fellow Southerners as more liberal on matters of race, but he still felt deeply for the calamity that had befallen his region and sought to recreate it for himself in a happier, more prosperous time in his novel. Huck Finn is clearly the record of his ambivalence.
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jonclinch
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey

I'm visiting the South right now, and the scars still show.

Yesterday I was in Greenwood, MS, practically ground zero for much of the devastation of the civil rights movement -- it's just up the road from Itta Bena, where Emmett Till was murdered in 1955 -- and folks are still talking about the long road back from the deepest historical woes of that place.

I was on a live radio show with a couple of singer-songwriters, one of whom -- just a kid, really, fresh out of college -- had a song about his boyhood Mississippi town where "defeat is still in the air."

-- J




fanuzzir wrote:

Huck Finn is clearly the record of his ambivalence.

-------------------------------
http://www.readfinn.com
http://www.jonclnch.com
jd
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jd
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey

Jon - I have spent some time in the South as well and some of the people will never get over the civil war even though they were not physically part of it, but the they still believe in the bravery and the idealized stories while passing over the racism and the killing and the economic reasons for the war to begin with. It is select memory. - jd
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fanuzzir
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey

I spent my own time in the south, and find both of your experiences so familiar. One of my dearest friends actually seemed to inherit the legacy of blame and guilt, while I also saw a fraternity march in Confederate uniforms waving the battle flag. Up north here, we actually labor under the belief that the New South is winning the culture wars, that it has the electoral influence to tilt elections, that everything has to go through its various constituencies and now Nascar is among us. Southerners themselves might not feel so entitled.
jd
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jd
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey

Gentlemen start your engines??? Pass me the chitlin's and invite me to the next tractor pull, boy howdy does that bring back memories - Im fixin' to walk down memory lane, real quick - jd
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Choisya
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey

Just passing through... May I ask whether there is also a religious divide between the North and the South, or whether there was one originally? I ask because much of what you write here reminds me of the divisions in Ireland after the 1922 Civil War/Uprising, which divided the Republic into Northern/largely Protestant and Southern/Largely Catholic. All over Europe there are ancient divides like this which are rooted in religion and the bitterness never seems to die. Some, like those which fuelled the Bosnian conflict, are hundreds of years old, so the feelings that Americans have are really quite young in historical terms.




fanuzzir wrote:
I spent my own time in the south, and find both of your experiences so familiar. One of my dearest friends actually seemed to inherit the legacy of blame and guilt, while I also saw a fraternity march in Confederate uniforms waving the battle flag. Up north here, we actually labor under the belief that the New South is winning the culture wars, that it has the electoral influence to tilt elections, that everything has to go through its various constituencies and now Nascar is among us. Southerners themselves might not feel so entitled.


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fanuzzir
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey

Choisya, the scenario you describe in the post-Civil War south is most likely true, but I'm not enough of a religious historian to describe precisely the schism, if any there were. Nineteenth century America remained deeply religious, with nearly every sect of Protestantism mobilizing against the Catholicism of new immigrants. What strikes me more foundational for the post-Civil war divide is economic development, and the fierce organizational skill with which Northern capital is transforming the nation's economy from agrarian into urban industrial. Many victorious Union generals in fact became captains of industry and finance who created the infrastructure for further Northern investment in the Old South. By the mid-twentieth century, that investment had created a New South, and some would say, a prejudicial federal policy about redirecting resources away from northern industrial cities. But that's another story.
Where does Twain sit in this picture? Appropriately on the fence. As a chronicler of the old south, he clearly has a stake in its (literary) survival, but he is also the first author to command his own marketing and to trademark his name so that it could be a national brand, the first of its kind. A more (post)modern personality you could not find.
jd
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jd
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey

please take what is next without predjudice. I do not mean to offend anyone... but I feel that much of the old South and its ability to make it with the help of slaves became a "religion" of sorts with fierce beliefs on either side, much as the war of muslims and christians now, or the christians and romans or etc . . . the emotion of the belief and the faith and what that means to each side, is still in the south as it stands now. The South may have conceded but it will never forget or forgive. The south lives the civil war on a day to day basis and no matter how much legislation to the contrary it will never be over the Civil War. It becomes a religion of its own and has its own dogma and followers, period. -jd
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Choisya
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Re: Twain's artistic and moral journey

I think that is true of all such disputes JD:smileysad: They take on a life of their own.




jd wrote:
please take what is next without predjudice. I do not mean to offend anyone... but I feel that much of the old South and its ability to make it with the help of slaves became a "religion" of sorts with fierce beliefs on either side, much as the war of muslims and christians now, or the christians and romans or etc . . . the emotion of the belief and the faith and what that means to each side, is still in the south as it stands now. The South may have conceded but it will never forget or forgive. The south lives the civil war on a day to day basis and no matter how much legislation to the contrary it will never be over the Civil War. It becomes a religion of its own and has its own dogma and followers, period. -jd


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Choisya
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Re: Fanuzzir : BBC & Slavery (Off topic)

[ Edited ]
Thankyou Fanuzzir.

BTW the BBC are running series on both radio and TV about the Abolition of Slavery - you may like to click around these BBC websites.

http://www.a2mediagroup.com/?c=137&a=13163

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/abolition/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/ethics/slavery/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/london/content/articles/2007/02/27/insideout_abolition_special_feature.shtml


Sorry I am telling too late for some of the TV stuff but the broadcasts on Radio 4 will be available in the Listen Again format. And here is an account of a moving programme I watched last night on Channel 4 TV:-

http://www.contactmusic.com/new/home.nsf/webpages/thelastslavex20x02x07




fanuzzir wrote:
Choisya, the scenario you describe in the post-Civil War south is most likely true, but I'm not enough of a religious historian to describe precisely the schism, if any there were. Nineteenth century America remained deeply religious, with nearly every sect of Protestantism mobilizing against the Catholicism of new immigrants. What strikes me more foundational for the post-Civil war divide is economic development, and the fierce organizational skill with which Northern capital is transforming the nation's economy from agrarian into urban industrial. Many victorious Union generals in fact became captains of industry and finance who created the infrastructure for further Northern investment in the Old South. By the mid-twentieth century, that investment had created a New South, and some would say, a prejudicial federal policy about redirecting resources away from northern industrial cities. But that's another story.
Where does Twain sit in this picture? Appropriately on the fence. As a chronicler of the old south, he clearly has a stake in its (literary) survival, but he is also the first author to command his own marketing and to trademark his name so that it could be a national brand, the first of its kind. A more (post)modern personality you could not find.

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-12-200705:38 AM

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Choisya
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Re: Fanuzzir : BBC & Slavery (Off topic)

[ Edited ]
A couple more Fanuzzir (although they may be included in my previous post):-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/abolition/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/videonation/feature/abolition/

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-12-200707:39 PM

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fanuzzir
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Re: Fanuzzir : BBC & Slavery (Off topic)

Choisya, thank you so much for these posts. I do think that the abolition struggle and of course slavery has a place in our discussion of Twain, so we will be calling on these when we address the racial dynamics of the novel. I will also be copying them to the American classics board for readers to discover as a monument to one of history's great humanitarian endeavors, whose two hundredth birthday we are celebrating this year. In an age when cyncism and disappointment prevail, it is important to realize that there was a time when people fought for the right and did not abandon their struggle until that right was achieved.
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south as it stands



jd wrote:
please take what is next without predjudice. I do not mean to offend anyone... but I feel that much of the old South and its ability to make it with the help of slaves became a "religion" of sorts with fierce beliefs on either side, much as the war of muslims and christians now, or the christians and romans or etc . . . the emotion of the belief and the faith and what that means to each side, is still in the south as it stands now. The South may have conceded but it will never forget or forgive. The south lives the civil war on a day to day basis and no matter how much legislation to the contrary it will never be over the Civil War. It becomes a religion of its own and has its own dogma and followers, period. -jd




Why do you think it is so?
ziki
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Choisya
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Re: Fanuzzir : BBC & Slavery (Off topic)

I am pleased they were useful Fanuzzir. Is there any chance of you putting a suitable book on slavery up for discussion at the end of the month? Perhaps your own Abolition's Public Sphere, which also has a link with Thoreau? I feel that B&N should be officially acknowledging this inmportant event.




fanuzzir wrote:
Choisya, thank you so much for these posts. I do think that the abolition struggle and of course slavery has a place in our discussion of Twain, so we will be calling on these when we address the racial dynamics of the novel. I will also be copying them to the American classics board for readers to discover as a monument to one of history's great humanitarian endeavors, whose two hundredth birthday we are celebrating this year. In an age when cyncism and disappointment prevail, it is important to realize that there was a time when people fought for the right and did not abandon their struggle until that right was achieved.


jd
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jd
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Re: south as it stands

Ziki - currently I spend time in the south occasionally and have lived in the South for a number of years, previously. When you live night and day in a place and work with the natives it becomes evident that some of the beliefs that are not politically correct today have not been given up but have been kept silent until they are certain most of the people in the room are of the same feeling. Those expressions are racist and awful. Many southerners have tried to lose this hatred but for many they live the civil war and the daily grind of losing the war as if it were yesterday. Seriously. Educated people can work through the slavery issue and the racism and come to the current conclusions that it is all bad. But when the people spouting these beliefs have an 8th grade education and their parents had an education to the 6th grade it becomes increasing difficult to find a new opinion that is not contrary to the way grampa did it 40 years ago. The old way was best and still is as far and they know - jd
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ELee
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Re: south as it stands

jd wrote:
"When you live night and day in a place and work with the natives it becomes evident that some of the beliefs that are not politically correct today have not been given up but have been kept silent until they are certain most of the people in the room are of the same feeling. Those expressions are racist and awful. Many southerners have tried to lose this hatred but for many they live the civil war and the daily grind of losing the war as if it were yesterday. Seriously. Educated people can work through the slavery issue and the racism and come to the current conclusions that it is all bad. But when the people spouting these beliefs have an 8th grade education and their parents had an education to the 6th grade it becomes increasing difficult to find a new opinion that is not contrary to the way grampa did it 40 years ago. The old way was best and still is as far and they know"

jd,
Your observation is very interesting. Do you think that the lack of education among the people you have noted above is in any way a matter of choice? Do they chose to "stick to the old ways" even when something different is available? I was wondering this because the impression I got from both TAOHF and FINN is that there was a strong feeling of "what was good enough for the father is good enough for the son". This seemed to me very self-limiting, generating and reinforcing a strong gulf between the "classes". It appears that what we would label "ignorance" is something that they strive to maintain, shutting themselves off from anything that might affect a change to their way of thinking. Or, I could be way off base on this...
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Choisya
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Re: south as it stands

In my youth (!) I did a lot of doorstep canvassing for a UK political party and came across the sort of attitudes jd describes many times. However, I have also known many cases (including my own son-in-law) where once such people were exposed to more tolerant points of view, based upon a better education, those attitudes changed significantly. It is a matter of education, exposure, travel and, above all, having close friends amongst many cultural groups. (The 'Hearts and Minds' approach.) In my lifetime (since 1945) I have seen great changes for the better in these attitudes, so my advice is keep plugging a more tolerant, inclusive viewpoint and don't despair!:smileysurprised:




ELee wrote:
jd wrote:
"When you live night and day in a place and work with the natives it becomes evident that some of the beliefs that are not politically correct today have not been given up but have been kept silent until they are certain most of the people in the room are of the same feeling. Those expressions are racist and awful. Many southerners have tried to lose this hatred but for many they live the civil war and the daily grind of losing the war as if it were yesterday. Seriously. Educated people can work through the slavery issue and the racism and come to the current conclusions that it is all bad. But when the people spouting these beliefs have an 8th grade education and their parents had an education to the 6th grade it becomes increasing difficult to find a new opinion that is not contrary to the way grampa did it 40 years ago. The old way was best and still is as far and they know"

jd,
Your observation is very interesting. Do you think that the lack of education among the people you have noted above is in any way a matter of choice? Do they chose to "stick to the old ways" even when something different is available? I was wondering this because the impression I got from both TAOHF and FINN is that there was a strong feeling of "what was good enough for the father is good enough for the son". This seemed to me very self-limiting, generating and reinforcing a strong gulf between the "classes". It appears that what we would label "ignorance" is something that they strive to maintain, shutting themselves off from anything that might affect a change to their way of thinking. Or, I could be way off base on this...


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fanuzzir
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Re: Fanuzzir : BBC & Slavery (Off topic)

Choisya, you are too kind, but mine doesn't touch British abolition except as a spur to American abolitionists like Garrison, so I would recommend Simon Schama's latest, a giant of intellectual history.
Bob
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