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Huck Ratings

March 2023
1min read

In commenting on attitudes toward Huckleberry Finn at the time of its publication, Robert B. Brown oversimplifies because he relies on outmoded scholarship (June/July issue). He apparently had not seen the article by Victor Fischer entitled “Huck Finn Reviewed: The Reception of Huckleberry Finn in the United States, 1885–1897,” which appeared in the issue of American Literary Realism for Spring 1983. Allow me to quote a part of Fischer’s summary: “Although disapproval of subscription publishing and bad publicity affected some contemporary reaction, they did so principally in Massachusetts. Critics in Boston and New York did deplore the book, and their attitudes to some extent influenced opinions expressed in other cities around the country. However, Huck was also well received and intelligently praised in New York, Connecticut, Georgia, California, and even Massachusetts. Moreover, the Concord Library ban, which drew out so many hostile comments on the book, was also well and repeatedly denounced by editors who had already reviewed the book favorably, or who took this opportunity to defend it for the first time.”

It is true that in recent decades various school boards have banned the book because of supposed “racism.” But it is hardly the case that such “moral gymnastics” as the banning of Huckleberry Finn in Concord “have now continued for one hundred years and show no sign of abating.” Your author is on firmer ground in referring to “the unshakable place in the literary firmament” that Mark Twain’s masterpiece holds today.

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