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.