Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

187

The United States of Huck: Introduction to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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terms
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notes

about the complexities of huckleberry finn. really good

Saunders, G. (2010). The United States of Huck: Introduction to Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. In Saunders, G. The Brain-Dead Megaphone: Essays. Bloomsbury Publishing, pp. 187-210

a length of thread or yarn, loosely coiled and knotted

195

the constantly shifting skein of metaphors

—p.195 by George Saunders
notable
1 year, 7 months ago

the constantly shifting skein of metaphors

—p.195 by George Saunders
notable
1 year, 7 months ago
203

[...] Huck and Tom represent two viable models of the American Character. They exist side by side in every American and every American action. America is, and always has been, undecided about whether it will be the United States of Tom or the United States of Huck. The United States of Tom looks at misery and says: Hey, I didn't do it. It looks at inequity and says: All my life I have busted my butt to get where I am, so don't come crying to me. Tom likes kings, codified nobility, unquestioned privilege. Huck likes people, fair play, spreading the truck around. Whereas Tom knows, Huck wonders. Whereas Huck hopes, Tom presumes. Whereas Huck cares, Tom denies. These two parts of the American Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the nation, and come to think of it, these two parts of the World Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the world, and the hope of the nation and of the world is to embrace the Huck part and send the Tom part back up the river, where it belongs.

I don't think I've read either but even so, this is an interesting analysis of the two characters

—p.203 by George Saunders 1 year, 7 months ago

[...] Huck and Tom represent two viable models of the American Character. They exist side by side in every American and every American action. America is, and always has been, undecided about whether it will be the United States of Tom or the United States of Huck. The United States of Tom looks at misery and says: Hey, I didn't do it. It looks at inequity and says: All my life I have busted my butt to get where I am, so don't come crying to me. Tom likes kings, codified nobility, unquestioned privilege. Huck likes people, fair play, spreading the truck around. Whereas Tom knows, Huck wonders. Whereas Huck hopes, Tom presumes. Whereas Huck cares, Tom denies. These two parts of the American Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the nation, and come to think of it, these two parts of the World Psyche have been at war since the beginning of the world, and the hope of the nation and of the world is to embrace the Huck part and send the Tom part back up the river, where it belongs.

I don't think I've read either but even so, this is an interesting analysis of the two characters

—p.203 by George Saunders 1 year, 7 months ago
206

The questions about race in Huck Finn tend to center around the presence in the book of the word "nigger", but my guess is that, if the book were free of the types of missteps described above, and if the ending weren't such a fiasco, that word might not be such a problem. That is, if our wishful dream of the book (in which Jim is always fully human and three-dimensional, and in which Huck steadily and then definitively comes to understand this) had been perfectly realized, I think most readers would tolerate the n-word as an important and even essential indicator of character. It is crucial that we understand Huck as a possible nascent racist, and so he had better talk like one. [...]

[...] Can we ever really know to what extent this man or his book was, or is, racist? When we identify racism in the book, aren't we really just identifying racism in the culture out of which it came? Is it fair to expect Twain to have vaulted himself out of his own time and place and arrive, clean-booted and upright, in our own? Isn't the book still funny and deep? Aren't I actually enjoying it? How does one do the complicated math of Ultimate Racism: If we determine that, relative to our time, Twain was a 40 percent racist, while relative to his own, he was only a 12 percent racist, or was in fact a 0 percent racist--what do we know, really?

good point--it's not a blanket judgment, but it has to do with sensitivity, and so it's very case-by-case (a point that a lot of "omg free speech" people ignore)

though tbh I'm still annoyed when people use "racist" to refer to individuals as concentrating on cultural and systemic factors (maybe it's a spectrum not a binary idk)

—p.206 by George Saunders 1 year, 7 months ago

The questions about race in Huck Finn tend to center around the presence in the book of the word "nigger", but my guess is that, if the book were free of the types of missteps described above, and if the ending weren't such a fiasco, that word might not be such a problem. That is, if our wishful dream of the book (in which Jim is always fully human and three-dimensional, and in which Huck steadily and then definitively comes to understand this) had been perfectly realized, I think most readers would tolerate the n-word as an important and even essential indicator of character. It is crucial that we understand Huck as a possible nascent racist, and so he had better talk like one. [...]

[...] Can we ever really know to what extent this man or his book was, or is, racist? When we identify racism in the book, aren't we really just identifying racism in the culture out of which it came? Is it fair to expect Twain to have vaulted himself out of his own time and place and arrive, clean-booted and upright, in our own? Isn't the book still funny and deep? Aren't I actually enjoying it? How does one do the complicated math of Ultimate Racism: If we determine that, relative to our time, Twain was a 40 percent racist, while relative to his own, he was only a 12 percent racist, or was in fact a 0 percent racist--what do we know, really?

good point--it's not a blanket judgment, but it has to do with sensitivity, and so it's very case-by-case (a point that a lot of "omg free speech" people ignore)

though tbh I'm still annoyed when people use "racist" to refer to individuals as concentrating on cultural and systemic factors (maybe it's a spectrum not a binary idk)

—p.206 by George Saunders 1 year, 7 months ago
210

[...] Huck Finn is a great book because it tells the truth about the human condition in a way that delights us. It is a great work of our national literature because, more than any book before or since, it locates itself squarely on our National Dilemma, which is: How can anyone be truly free in a country as violent and stupid as ours? The book still lives, because the question does.

the perfect ending to a great essay

—p.210 by George Saunders 1 year, 7 months ago

[...] Huck Finn is a great book because it tells the truth about the human condition in a way that delights us. It is a great work of our national literature because, more than any book before or since, it locates itself squarely on our National Dilemma, which is: How can anyone be truly free in a country as violent and stupid as ours? The book still lives, because the question does.

the perfect ending to a great essay

—p.210 by George Saunders 1 year, 7 months ago