Satire or Evasion?

Black Perspectives on Huckleberry Finn

Satire or Evasion?

Book Pages: 288 Illustrations: Published: November 1991

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

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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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

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

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

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments v

Introduction: The Controversy over Huckleberry Finn / James S. Leonard and Thomas A. Tenney 1

Huck Finn and the Authorities

The Case Against Huck Finn / John H. Wallace 16

The Struggle for Tolerance: Race and Censorship in Huckleberry Finn / Peaches Henry 25

History, Slavery, and Thematic Irony in Huckleberry Finn / Richard K. Barksdale 49

Jim and Huck in the Nineteenth Century

The Ending of Huckleberry Finn: "Freeing the Free Negro" / Charles H. Nilon 62

The Veil Rant in Twain: Degradation and Revelation in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn / Mary Kemp Davis 77

Mark Twain and the Black Challenge / Carmen Subryan 91

Huck, Jim, and American Racial Discourse / David L. Smith 103

Blackface and White Inside

Twain's "Nigger" Jim: The Tragic Face behind the Minstrel Mask / Bernard W. Bell 124

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1174-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1163-8
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