Friday, January 29, 2010

Not your momma's Tom Sawyer - Book Review - 5 Stars

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is a reread for me as I read it in Junior High. Often this book is regarded as a coming of age classic piece of nostalgic Americana. This was my initial conception when I read this 18 years ago.

I have discovered that this is not the case. Not by a long shot.

The book holds many parallels to Twain's Calvinist up bringing. I don't want to delve too much into the many layers of Twain's writing. I was a bit skeptic at first and believe that these realizations should be obtained first hand.

A few things to consider while reading or rereading Tom Sawyer (and then Huck Finn for that matter).

The town: St. Petersburg
-translates into "St. Peter's city"
-Peter is said to be the one that stands at the gates of Heaven to let the worthy in.
-St. Petersburg Russia at the time was rife with corruption, murder, and chaos
-What are the main things that happen in the town? Is there anything going on to actually be nostalgic about?

-If a town is represented by it's citizens, what do they say about St. Petersburg?
-The adults are violent, irrational, pious, judgmental, etc
-Take a look at their parenting and child rearing skills. While spare the rod spoil the child has been around for a long time (and still today), the Victorian philosophy incorporates motivating a child to do right out of love and not fear. This is not present in anyway in St. Petersburg. Look at their parenting practices and ask yourself if you would be nostalgic of being a child with those types of parents...

These are just some of the basic elements to argue that this is not merely a coming of age boy's book. While reading, keep an eye out for Twain's critique on Romantic Literature that was prevalent with the day and ask yourself what do Tom's trips and Injun Joe represent.

I would love to discuss this book further with anyone that is interested!

Happy Reading!


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