In the Introduction to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Henry Nash Smith writes about various themes in the novel, especially that of Jim and the idea of slavery. He also remarks on the language of the novel, an important part of the book for me. "These uses of language represent and impressive accomplishment in the art of fiction." Clemens was an innovator in writing in many ways- with his satirical style, portrayal of Jim in a realistic fashion, and, of course, his language. Rather than trying to make the characters speak correctly, which would have seemed out of place in the context of the novel, Clemens uses the distinct dialects of the area. This adds a realism to the novel and changes the idea that literature must be written "correctly".
Race is a large issue in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as noted in the David L. Smith essay Huck, Jim, and American Radical Discourse. "Twain, however, did not view racism as an isolated phenomenon, and his effort to place racism within the context of other cultural traditions produced the most problematic aspect of his novel." Clemens does not hide the way African Americans were treated during this time and did not attempt to cover it up. Some readers have problems with this fact, citing racism throughout the book. Yet Clemens made the novel realistic in all aspects, including the treatment of slaves.
I feel almost bad for blogging about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. As lovingly states in the notice by Twain, "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." Sounds like reason enough to me not to have a blog entry.
However, the threat of a bad grade is more dangerous to me than being shot (we know where my priorities lie) so I'll continue. I've never read anything my Mark Twain before. My high school apparently wasn't all about reading the "classics" so I have never read Tom Sawyer. I thought this might be a hinderance to me and my reading, considering The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the companion book to it, yet having read Tom Sawyer is not necessary. The plot is easy enough to follow without it.
Passages in the book made me laugh, surprisingly. As Huck is describing his feelings on Moses, "...so then I didn't care about him; because I don't take no stock in dead people." I'm not sure if it's the bad English or Huck's blunt ideas that make this humorous to me. In Twain's time, perhaps I would have found this typical- the writing reflecting the speech of the time and not filled with bad grammar, as I notice now.
The English major in me really comes out with Jim's passages however. I know that Twain is accurately portraying the speech of this region at the time yet it is still tough for me to get through. I almost have to read Jim's speeches outloud, just to hear the sounds instead of trying to make out the words with the terrible grammar and mispronunciations.
Huck's bluntness also makes the book enjoyable. Unlike the last novel, The Scarlet Letter, this one isn't as dry to read, with long periods of nothing but description. The world is seen first-person through Huck's young and, at times, naive eyes. His take on the world and view on life gives the book character, making it a much more interesting read.
Ok, I never get to post anything remotely personal anymore. It's all school blogging. So now that I have 4 minutes before heading off to work, I thought I'd post my thoughts on the latest thing on my mind- whitening gum. I have a pack of Orbit gum that claims it'll whiten my teeth. Ok, good. I'm addicted to whitening my smile. However, gum never really touches the front of my teeth. So even if this does work, which I highly doubt it shall, the bottoms and backs of my teeth are going to be sparkling? Not sure I really get the whole concept....
(yeah, this was random. Oh well, it's one of those weeks)
More Emily Dickinson comin' attcha (ok, I'll never say that again).
It was interesting how Dickinson described reading a letter in VI- The way I read a letter's this. It seems so dear to her that she must "'T is first I lock the door,
And push it with my fingers next,
For transport it be sure. "
It is a special time, almost ceremonial, that she takes great care to enjoy.
The poem XX- Old fashioned was very similar to Poe's "To Science". Both highlight how science has taken over the world and rid it of its mystery and creativity. "What once was heaven, is zenith now." Similar to Poe's feelings on the wood nymphs being driven out of their homes- the magical elements are being described scientifically.
Dickinson also hopes that, by resisting science to this extent, she will not be classified as "old fashioned" just for wanting to hold onto her world.
Talk about your lyrical poetry! Every line of Emily Dickinson's poems just bounces and flows with perfect rythmn.
I enjoy Dickinson's poetry because it isn't masked in too much symbolism and obscure references. It still has meaning, yet it is easy to find.
Although short, I enjoyed her IV poem- Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower? Flowers are a beautiful and meaningful item for Dickinson, possibly because she was a bit of a recluse. They were a thing of beauty from the outside world she could enjoy. They encompass a world all their own, hence her unwillingness to lend one out for very long.
Another poem, again short, I enjoyed was XVII- I never saw a moor. While Dickinson may not know about moors and the see, what heaven looks like or talked to God, she still knows about such items through her reading and education. Just because one hasn't explored something first hand doesn't mean that he or she does not understand it. In her time, Dickinson could read about things outside her world and now we can do even more with the internet and television. Nothing is out of our reach.
So many Poe poems, so little time...
So Poe does humor now? Who would have thought? I'm used to his rather dismal poems on loss and love, yet Epigram for Wall Street is surprisingly clever (and short).
"Keeps your cash in your hands, where nothing can trouble it;"
Poe is remarking that instead of investing money and worrying about it on the ever-changing stock market, just save your money and you will never be needy of it. Good advice, if you can follow it.
I remember reading To Science earlier in the semester. I also remember blogging about it...oh well, here it goes again.
"Hast thou not dragg'd Diana from her car,
And driv'n the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?"
(For those who do not recall our discussion in class, a Hamadryad is a woodland spirit.)
Poe, I think, is a little upset with science at this time. It has taken over and, in his eyes, ruined the simplicty and joy of nature in his life. Everything is so scientific that there is nothing unexplained, no fantasies left, hence why the Hamadryad must leave. All his creativity is becoming lost to a world of scientific means and explanations, harboring his ability to create poems.
I think The Raven is probably one of the first things any student will ever ready by Poe. It is easy to understand and, undoubtly, a classic.
"And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted -- nevermore!"
Ok, Poe was a troubled guy- this we know. And it comes out often in his poetry- especially this one. He is haunted by the memories of his lost love, Leonore, and it seems like his sorrow will never leave. The raven- so black and bleak, almost a symbol of loss and death- has come and taken root in his home, in his heart. He is never to leave, just as the memories and pain of Leonore will also never leave his soul. There will always the the constant reminders of her, no matter what he does. The ever-present bird is like a thought in the back of the mind- you forget about it but suddenly it gets triggered and all the thoughts and feelings rush back again.
Chapter 18 "Conclusion" of Thoreau's Walden is practically filled with quotes that can be dissected and discussed at length.
"I left the woods for as good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed to me that I had several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one. It is remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into a particular route, and make a beaten track for ourselves." (4)
Thoreau is once again telling the reader why he decided to live simply in the woods. There was the need for escape, to get away from the norm, and try something new. Again, he is implying that we are not truly living our lives in the complicated and monotonous society. People are not getting out and exploring but are just living day-to-day doing the same activities over and over. Thoreau wished to do more with his time.
"However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is." (13)
So is this what he discovered during his time in the woods? That, no matter what, life is good and will always improve? It's a wonderful quote and idea of how one should live their life. Why try and find the bad in everything? There are still good points to life, even if they are not apparent at all times. Something good can always come from it.
I could continue but I think I'll limit it to two quotes, although more can be found. This chapter allows the reader to see Thoreau's ideas on life and what he has taken from it and his stay in the forest. While not being preachy, Thoreau is telling us how we should strive to live- simply and loving our lives.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
This quote just struck me from Thoreau's Walden. I'm not sure why this one, out of all of Thoreau's writing stood out, but it definitly did. Makes one think, "Am I doing this all wrong. Have I ever really lived?"
Thoreau recognized that, even in his time, that the world has become an increasingly complex and hectic place. With all that occurs daily- such as running to and from work, making sure tasks are completed on time, fitting everything in, and the ever present stress- we forget the simplicity of how things used to, or should, be. In the end, is it really worth all the stress, all the running around? Would simply be better? (Wow, don't I sound deep...?) Going to a simpler life, as Thoreau has done in the woods, may hold the answer. Alone, in the quiet and away from the world, does one truly live their life? Thoreau certainly tries. I doubt such a thing could be tried today however. Even the woods belon to this crazy world he wanted to try and escape.