Banned Books 2019 – OCTOBER READ – The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Published November 18, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A nineteenth-century boy from a Mississippi River town recounts his adventures as he travels down the river with a runaway slave, encountering a family involved in a feud, two scoundrels pretending to be royalty, and Tom Sawyer’s aunt who mistakes him for Tom.

Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to the ninth banned book in our series for 2019! Apologies for the late posting of this review, life has been quite hectic for both of us recently. As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of the year:

NOVEMBER: To Kill A Mockingbird- Harper Lee

DECEMBER: Revolutionary Voices- edited by Amy Sonnie

But back to this month….

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

First published: 1884

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2002 (source)

Reasons: offensive language

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH:  I can probably speak for my sister right now and confirm that Huckleberry Finn was a bit of a tricky book for us both to read and analyse. Full disclosure right now – I didn’t manage to finish it so this post is being written without having read to the end. I can only report back on the small portion that I did manage to read. Personally, I think that the reasoning for challenging or banning should be a little more specific – in my opinion, “offensive language” is slightly vague and does not get to the real heart of the matter that this book covers. After a little internet searching and my limited experience of the book,

I found it was mainly the racist terms/attitudes and the dialect used by the main character that were most offensive. As someone who finds these kind of things abhorrent obviously I don’t agree with it but I can also understand that this book is probably a product of its time. Not that it makes it acceptable, it doesn’t! However, I think we still need to read about the past to appreciate where we need to be in the future.

CHRISSI: This was a struggle to read and finish. Like Beth, I didn’t manage to finish this book and found myself skim reading. For me, I found the racist attitudes hard to read and it made me uncomfortable. Therefore from that side of things, I do understand why this book might be challenged. Although I think it’s more likely to be challenged nowadays when the type of language isn’t seen as acceptable.

How about now?

BETH: This novel was challenged/banned as recently as 2002 which makes me believe that some readers are quite rightly upset by its contents – particularly the language that is used. As a white person, I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to fully appreciate how upsetting that might be but I can acknowledge why people would be offended. From my point of view, I think if a book is presented in the right way i.e. taught that this kind of language is no longer acceptable then those studying it can always learn something from it to build a better future without racism or discrimination. I think everyone should have access to all literature – no matter what the issue, purely for the chance to learn. If things are hidden away or restricted, understanding abhorrent attitudes will be slightly more difficult.

CHRISSI: I can totally understand why this book has been challenged in recent times. The language used is completely offensive. However, I agree with Beth, if this book is used to examine how things used to be- then I can totally see its worth. I know many people have enjoyed this book, so there’s surely something about it!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: Unfortunately as mentioned in the first paragraph of this review, I didn’t get on with Huckleberry Finn. It wasn’t that I was offended by the language – although some of the attitudes did make me cross but I found it slow and difficult to read. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters or feel invested in the plot.

CHRISSI: I wasn’t a fan of it. I didn’t finish it because I found it difficult to read. It hasn’t been the first time I’ve tried to read this book. I see so many people loving this book and it’s really not for me. I just can’t get into the plot, no matter how hard I try!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Not sure.

CHRISSI: It’s not for me!

BETH’s personal star rating (out of 5):

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COMING UP IN NOVEMBER ON BANNED BOOKS: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

11 comments on “Banned Books 2019 – OCTOBER READ – The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

  • I’ve been thinking of you Beth, because I just read Bad Science which was a Nonfiction November recommendation I got from you last year. It was amazing, thank you so much for that! I hope everything’s going well with you!!!

  • Beth & Chrissy, thanks for posting this and I look forward to following your site. I like the idea of discussing banned books. I want to say that I wish you could have finished Huck Finn. It is one of my favorite stories that I have read many times. While the language is offensive, I consider the time and culture of our society when Huck Finn was written. If you read thru to the end of the story, you will find it is a lovely story about a boy’s realization of the racism that is all around him. Huck becomes very good friends with the runaway slave, Jim. In fact, Huck is helping Jim escape to a state where he will be free.
    You are correct that it is important to teach this book very carefully. My hope would be that today’s readers get a glimpse of what life was like for people, both black and white, during that time, and work to make sure that type of racism never happens again.

    • Hi there, thank you so much for your comment and I’m glad you enjoy Huck Finn so much. It’s great to hear that it has that kind of ending and it sounds like it is such a rewarding read for you. For me, I just couldn’t connect and that was a shame, I don’t like to force myself to continue reading when I’m not enjoying something – life’s too short but I understand that lots of people do enjoy this. I am giving up blogging at the end of this year so we only have two more banned books posts left to come but we have a whole series on this site and Chrissi’s site that we’ve been doing for a few years if you want to check them out. Thank you so much again! 😊

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