Refiguring Huckleberry Finn

Carl F. Wieck

A fresh look at Mark Twain as citizen and storyteller

Reviews

"A hymn to the novel, meditating it word by word and even number by number. . . . The result is that we understand better than ever before many touches and episodes."
—Louis J. Budd

"Wieck's book . . . performs the most desirable of critical feats: it enriches anyone's reading of Twain's masterpiece."
American Literary Scholarship


"An intriguing and expansive work of criticism."
Mark Twain Forum

"Wieck's inquiries into Huckleberry Finn come from some very specialized, almost offbeat entry points, like 'the figure forty.' Yet each entryway opens up intriguing speculations that are consistently helpful in their insights into intentions lying behind the story. . . . Chapters trace Jefferson's and Lincoln's ideas of equality to the novel and Frederick Douglass's significance to the philosophy behind the character of Jim; the implications of democratic influence and echoic language build a case for Wieck's reading of the book as a web of meanings bearing directly on race and rights in the US . . . Wieck's book will engage general readers and academic readers on many levels, upper-division undergraduate and above."
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Description
Much about Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is ageless, yet its author was completely immersed in the age in which he wrote. Refiguring “Huckleberry Finn” looks at ways that contemporary American culture and history influenced the formation of Mark Twain’s masterwork. It also shows how the novel reflects Twain’s deep investment in what Carl F. Wieck calls “an open-minded, unbiased perception of the wellsprings of the American spirit.”

Clearly, Twain knew the Mississippi River and its people well. With Frederick Douglass, William Dean Howells, Ulysses S. Grant, and John Hay (Abraham Lincoln’s personal secretary) among his friends, Twain also knew America. That understanding, Wieck shows us, is richly evident in Huckleberry Finn by the ways Twain explored themes of justice, rights, knowledge, and truth; engaged with the ideas of Douglass, Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson; and expressed concern over the public discourse on race and equality.

In addition, in discussions that range from number play in the novel to the symbolic potential of the Mississippi’s awesome, one-way flow, Wieck looks closely at Twain’s storytelling craft. Filled with new and challenging insights, Refiguring “Huckleberry Finn” reintroduces us to one of our greatest novels and one of our finest novelists.

Page count: 248 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9

 



Paper
List price: $26.95
978-0-8203-2596-5
3/1/2004

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Carl F. Wieck is Senior Lecturer Emeritus and Docent in American Literature and American Studies, Tampere University, Finland.