The relation of form to content in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

1097 WordsFeb 26, 20184 Pages
In discussing the structure and substance of a novel, one would be remiss not to explore the narrative strategies through which its story is told. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884) is autobiographic, ensuring a valuable narrative unity; each scene is delivered as-is rather than being described into fruition. It is a tale of boyish adventure floating along the Mississippi told as it would have appeared to the boy himself. Thus, the novel ascribes to one of several contrasting aesthetics found throughout American literature: Twain’s creation and manipulation of aesthetic through an emphasis of the ‘Vernacular’ rather than the ‘Literary’. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is therefore a novel that speaks for, and is demotic of, the people of the American South. The form of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, manifest in this vernacular aesthetic, is achieved through an attempt to approximate and reproduce idiomatic speech. Looking to Twain’s ‘Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offences’, one is readily able to explicate the formal principles of this novel. Consider the following excerpt: 5. [The nineteen rules governing literary art in the domain of romantic fiction] require that when the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighbourhood of the
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