OK, who’s the author and who’s the character here? It takes less than a second to answer that, doesn’t it?

Well, although you may not be a keen reader, the name of the writer (Mark Twain) and his famous character (Huck Finn) should ring a bell. As E. Hemingway said: “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The book itself is 137 years old; however, it is a delightful read even today.

Samuel Clemens (1835-1910) – later known by his pen name Mark Twain – was born in Missouri, US. He spent hisearly years by the great Mississippi River.
He lived in turbulent times when slavery was a big issue, especially in the south of the country. Very much like his book characters, Mark Twain liked adventure.
He also got close to books at a young age working as a printer’s helper. He had other interesting jobs later on, including working as a river pilot, a miner and a journalist. His adventurous soul took him to Europe and the Middle East too.
He was able to observe the world and write about it in a witty1 and humorous way. He used satire to describe all the cruelty and injustice in the world. You can find that in his most famous books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In a seemingly naive and light-hearted way he deals with very serious topics such as slavery, home abuse and moral values.

Huckleberry Finn is a poor boy whose only family is a drunken father. He is physically abused to the point that he decides to run away. He meets a runaway slave, Jim, and together they try to get to the north where Jim could be free. On their journey they encounter2 different dangerous and exciting situations where Huck’s moral values are challenged. Finally, they get back home where they both get their freedom: Jim from slavery and Huck from his father.
Although the book was written for readers who knew nothing about modern technologies and their everyday life was totally different from how we live today, the characters have to face the same dilemmas as modern people. They deal with friendship, loyalty, freedom, rights and respect. That makes the book attractive even in these modern times.
However, since the beginning of the 21st century there have been many attempts to remove3 the book from required school reading in the United States. The reason is the book’s authentic language and the fact that some of the words have become extremely rude over the years!

Do you read books written a long time ago? Explain.
What do you think of obligatory school reading choices?
Do you think it is a good idea to ban a book at schools just because the language has changed?

Miroslava Dubanová

Vocabulary: 1 duchaplný, zábavný; 2 stretnúť sa – potkat; 3 odstrániť – odstranit