Monday, May 27, 2013

Huckelberry Finn by Mark Twain (1885) Illu.

An awesome page turner... for the 1st 2/3s. The moment Tom Sawyer shows up the book spirals out of control. I have not read Tow Sayer and its not on my list if it is anything like the Huck Finn version of Tom.

This rendering of Huck fishing for dinner is so alluring its hard to look at; a level of serenity that can only be found in childhood (or a book.)

The entire thing is in "Southern Speak" and once you get used to it, its fun. I don't know much about Clemens but he had influences from both north and south, he did however grow up, work on, and live on the Great Mississippi.

The King an the duke are such rascals, thieving, cheating, bums. They are the another example of Huck's "follower" nature; he followed his father, he followed Tom, as well as these two bums. Huck usually took the lazy way out and couldn't see, was blind too, or lacked the proper leadership, to value education; that education that his aunt offered.

I suppose it really is a child's dream book serving the purpose of providing an escape unlike no one can have anymore.

So Huck goes along learning life lessons or not, but often takes the time to reflect; its great. He regularly finds himself in unwinable situations... "damned if you do or damned if you don't." Constantly reviewing his moral compass he was doing better and better only to backslide upon Tom's arrival. I was really rooting for his overall recovery from the dark side but ultimately he freely expresses that he is just a bad person and so there is no turning back.

The thing with Tom and his ridiculous schemes is that Huck could have said "NO" or "your an idiot" but instead goes along as if he had no choice. Twain never gives a reason for Huck's lack of spine other than his apparent low self esteem.

I can't resist thinking about (and living through) the wonderful world BC, to not know anything about relatives and friends once they are out of sight. It seems like it would be so stressful and yet we speak of this very little, now of course we complain of knowing too much.

The Fall of the House of Dixie by Bruce Levine (2013)

Continuing on with but not ending at Uncle Tom's Cabin I heard about this and decided to go for it.Yes, America's skeleton in the closet, slavery.

The GWtW version of the south before and after the war touches so little on slavery and UTC is focused on conditions and consequences. Also I just finished Huckleberry Finn where Clemens portrays a world just before the the war.

Levine's outline takes us from the early in the 1800's to post war. Here in the North the subject is usually dismissed as a states wrights issue, so I suppose, we don't have to discuss the details or the controversies.

The 100 or so year feudal system that the south had developed is interesting in that it mimicked what was common in Europe but was fast crumbling over there. I don't think that a family with a couple of generations of wealth behind it compares however to a family with a couple of centuries of wealth. In other words these people may have been "much closer to the earth" than say a Downtown Abbey sort of family.

The South's aristocratic hierarchy or cast system benefited the few but made all part of the agreement, so by having more than one class one could always feel better off that someone else. But the wealthy discovered, their wealth did not protect them from destruction no matter how loud they shouted. I would like to hear the story of the people who left before the war (if any) with their wealth intact, now that would have shown intelligence.

The subject of "the slaves didn't mind being slaves" is off the table, of course they did. Were they better off? well that's another story because they were so unprepared for freedom. After the war the retribution heaped upon them was shameful. Maybe the concept of a slow transition to freedom was just too impossible but slow transitions are always easier to accept than short ones. The South hastened the end of slavery by decades in their ill thought out zeel to maintain it.

As far as it being a rich man's war well it certainly was. The poor owned no slaves but were easily outraged with jingoistic rhetoric from there leadership.

Levine Illustrates the numerous ways that slavery and feudal aristocracy were coveted by the exceptionally wealthy with 100's of quotes from letters and news articles of the time.

If the reader is a battle historian this book would fill in many of the whys and hows of the some of the inexplicable self destructive moves made by the Southern leadership.