Satire Or Evasion?: Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn

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James S. Leonard, Thomas Tenney, Thadious M. Davis
Duke University Press, 1992 - History - 281 pages
Though one of America’s best known and loved novels, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has often been the object of fierce controversy because of its racist language and reliance on racial stereotypes. This collection of fifteen essays by prominent African American scholars and critics examines the novel’s racist elements and assesses the degree to which Twain’s ironies succeed or fail to turn those elements into a satirical attack on racism.
Ranging from the laudatory to the openly hostile, these essays include personal impressions of Huckleberry Finn, descriptions of classroom experience with the book, evaluations of its ironic and allegorical aspects, explorations of its nineteenth-century context, and appraisal of its effects on twentieth-century African American writers. Among the issues the authors contend with are Twain’s pervasive use of the word “nigger,” his portrayal of the slave Jim according to the conventions of the minstrel show “darky,” and the thematic chaos created by the “evasion” depicted in the novel’s final chapters.
Sure to provoke thought and stir debate, Satire or Evasion? provides a variety of new perspectives on one of this country’s most troubling classics.

Contributors. Richard K. Barksdale, Bernard W. Bell, Mary Kemp Davis, Peaches M. Henry, Betty Harris Jones, Rhett S. Jones, Julius Lester, Donnarae MacCann, Charles H. Nichols, Charles H. Nilon, Arnold Rampersad, David L. Smith, Carmen Dubryan, John H. Wallace, Kenny Jackson Williams, Fredrick Woodard


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Satire or evasion?: Black perspectives on Huckleberry Finn

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Focused less on Huck than on the black slave Jim, these 15 contemporary essays, representing various points on the spectrum between the views of Twain's novel as a racist document and as an indictment ... Read full review

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This is the stupidest book ever that completely misses the point of the novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It is naive and immature, and only a person who was looking to find some offense in it would view the novel this distortedly.

Selected pages


The Case Against
The Struggle for Tolerance Race and Censorship in Huckleberry Finn
History Slavery and Thematic Irony in Huckleberry Finn
The Ending of Huckleberry Finn Freeing the Free Negro
The Veil Rent in Twain Degradation and Revelation in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain and the Black Challenge
Huck Jim and American Racial Discourse
Twains Nigger Jim The Tragic Face behind the Minstrel Mask
Nigger and Knowledge White DoubleConsciousness in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Morality and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A True BookWith Some Stretchers Huck Finn Today
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and AfroAmerican Literature
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Mark Twains Racial Ambiguity
For Further Reading

Minstrel Shackles and Nineteenth Century Liberality in Huckleberry Finn
A Reconsideration

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About the author (1992)


James S. Leonard is Professor of English at The Citadel.

Thomas Tenney

Thadious M. Davis is Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

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