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The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Puffin Classics) Paperback – 2009
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Thomas "Tom" Sawyer is the title character of the Mark Twain novel THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER (1876). He appears in three other novels by Twain: ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN (1884), TOM SAWYER ABROAD (1894), and TOM SAWYER, DETECTIVE (1896). Sawyer also appears in at least three unfinished Twain works, HUCK AND TOM AMONG THE INDIANS, SCHOOLHOUSE HILL and TOM SAWYER'S CONSPIRACY. While all three uncompleted works were posthumously published, only Tom Sawyer's Conspiracy has a complete plot, as Twain abandoned the other two works after finishing only a few chapters. The fictional character's name may have been derived from a jolly and flamboyant fireman named Tom Sawyer with whom Twain was acquainted in San Francisco, California, while Twain was employed as a reporter at the San Francisco Call. Twain used to listen to Sawyer tell stories of his youth, "Sam, he would listen to these pranks of mine with great interest and he'd occasionally take 'em down in his notebook. One day he says to me: 'I am going to put you between the covers of a book some of these days, Tom.' 'Go ahead, Sam,' I said, 'but don't disgrace my name.' " Twain himself said the character sprang from three people, later identified as: John B. Briggs (who died in 1907), William Bowen (who died in 1893) and Twain; however Twain later changed his story saying Sawyer was fully formed solely from his imagination, but as Robert Graysmith says, "The great appropriator liked to pretend his characters sprang fully grown from his fertile mind." (more at wisehouse-classics.com)
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The past I referred to was when I was in my early teens and first read Tom Sawyer. It wasn't until many years later, for some reason, I got round to reading Huckleberry Finn.
Tom Sawyer is regarded as more for younger readers, but I tend to ignore such restrictions and reread it when I was a lot older. I still enjoyed it.
The relationship between the three 'stars' of the story makes for wonderful reading, their naive view of the world they discuss the politics of nations and kings makes for wonderful reading.
The Finn book is the more 'adult' of the two stories, a very much darker narrative told which is a sequel to Tom Sawyer. The heroes are a bit older and there has been an attempt to civilise Huckleberry, with mixed success.
I did enjoy this re-revisit!
For one thing, the novel is as much about growing up and striving to do good as anything else. Huckleberry Finn has this battle throughout the book, and mostly after he meets up with Jim on Jackson's Island and must do some serious soul searching to figure out what is right and what is wrong. An abolitionist wasn't thought of lightly in this setting, and so Huck is not easy to let go of society's laws. However, through much of Jim's guidance, Huck does learn morals and principles of life. Jim represents the father-figure in Huck's life, mainly because Huck's "real" Pap is an alcoholic, abusive, neglectful and mean-spirited to his son. If there ever were a case for a character breaking the stereotype idea, it would be Jim. After all, isn't it Jim who questions what Huck believes about him running away from slavery? When Huck examines ironically to himself is, and will always be, a "no good abolitionist", this admission and growth of character can be chalked up to Jim, who has already influenced Huck by then. Jim helps Huck grow up and be a more thought-provoking character. Huck gains a better picture as the novel progresses; for instance, he comes to understand that the duke and the king are not only frauds, but that they are lower than low because of their greed and callousness to the Wilks family.
On another level, the novel is a lot about light-hearted fun, satire, poking fun of society and just Huck's imagination. Huck is a child who is not easy to civilize; he wants to be out in the world and living an adventure, being in a band of robbers with Tom Sawyer or adding "style" to a given situation. Huck often lives life by the moment, and has to use his "street smarts" to get out of predicaments, which might mean making up a story, faking his own death, dressing up like a girl to get information or using quick wit to escape a sticky situation. He seeks freedom and adventure, and the Mississippi River, where Jim and he spend much of their time on the raft, is a symbol for this escape.
Over all, I found this to be a difficult review because Huckleberry Finn is probably one of my favorite books and Twain is one of my favorite authors. But, I think if you read Huckleberry Finn in the right light, it is an amazing read about adventure and growing up. Definitely recommended!
This story is just a hit for adventuresome boys. There's some allegory and metaphore for the more sophisticated audience, but it doesn't depend as heavily on it as other great stories because it starts right off with a grizzly murder, and goes on to a haunted house, buried treasure, a deep labyrinthine cave, a vengeful villain, and some real respectable type heroes.
THAT, is my only complaint however. I love classic literature with illustrations and there are around 70 in this book. Not familiar with the illustrator (no surprise, I'm not up on that) but they look good.
The book is easy to read, seems formatted for ease of use for parents reading to children. It's really great!
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