Monday, March 12, 1906
Wednesday, March 14, 1906
The accompanying notes compiled by the Twain Project show Samuel Langhorne Clemens to be, above all, a competent, accurate and truthful journalist. Combined with his complete mastery of language, practically to the extent that Clemens is the founding father of modern North American English literature, we shall not look upon his like again.
Understandably, even now there are those who despise Samuel Clemens. The most common pretext, easily debunked, is the assertion that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is racist, and schools and movie studios have banned this comedy in its original prose as offensive. Schools banned the book in the nineteenth century for misuse of the language, since Twain faithfully set down the frontier dialects of his childhood with no addition.
Jim was a slave, at slavery's boundary with the North, the property of the widow Douglas and her sister, Miss Watson. Jim's Missouri Negro dialect and superstitions tempt the superficial to dismiss him as a clown. In fact, the plot's main driver is Jim's struggle to be free and reunited with his family. Jim is actually the hero of this masterpiece and quick-witted, as when he shrewdly withheld the fact that Huck's father was murdered, thereby preserving Huck Finn's false belief that his abusive father was on his trail. The subplots of the struggle to survive in the American Bottom of Illinois, the Mississippi flood, from feuding families and thieves to Tom Sawyer's mischief constitute an irreplaceable document of a half-dozen dialects spoken by common people along the Mississippi from Missouri to Louisiana in the antebellum South twenty years before the civil war. Wain's literary tableaux of the natural beauty of those then-pristine regions are priceless images of a natural environment despoiled many generations ago by greed.
As Wikileaks reveals the shameful contempt for humanity of our modern overclass, Clemens knocks at our door. Few throughout history offer a richer legacy.