Big Readers Forum Index


Mark Twain - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Page Previous  1, 2
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> 'A Good Read' - Big Readers' Version
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3351


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:40 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

Very glad - I would have read it anyway sooner or later, but it's nice to have company. And if I don't think it's quite in the same class as Huckleberry Finn, that's partly because the latter book is a masterpiece.

I assumed Tom was about 12, but I'm not sure it's mentioned explicitly.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2917


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read Tom Sawyer a year or two ago and felt a little disappointed - I think I was expecting a deeper work.  However I whipped through it last night and enjoyed very much the first half, though not so much the second part (too much action there perhaps, and people lost in caves is not what someone with a tendency to claustrophobia likes to read about - I had to leave the room during an episode of Heartbeat once when people were being rescued from a cave!).

The first wonderful story about the whitewashing which is so famous I thought was superb and many of the other parts too showing Tom's attitudes, intelligence and naivity were great.  As I wrote this I wondered if it was the first story.  My edition, I have realised, is a Whitcombe's Story Books edition, "adapted from the story by Mark Twain", though the cover just says The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain.  I cannot see anything omitted in the stoary but wonder if it should be longer.  It seems to suddenly finish - in fact my first thought was that there were pages missing from my book, but that doesn't seem to be the case.  It ends on P 132 with Tom and Huck talking about starting a gang and turning robbers, and Huck expecting the widow to be 'proud she snaked me in out of the wet.'  Is that where it finishes?

Two things for me to comment on specifically.  Some of the words and phrases were just delightful and I do like the sort of writing where the language, without being at all precious, awakens you.  'The electric sympathy of love' for instance seems just right to me.  I recall a young man I fancied coming into a dance hall and I knew the second he walked in, without actively seeing or noticing him and it was 'electric'.

And later the 'theatrical gorgeousness of the thing appealed'.  But there were lots.

As regards Becky.  Lots regards Becky really.  I think she was there mostly to show Tom's feelings, his boyish way of suddenly changing or of getting sick of one set of worries and concentrating on something else. The beginning of Chapter 8 shows this well - Tom has a weighter matter than the murder - Becky is not coming to school.  But then he gets tired of being bothered by that too.  This seems very real behaviour to me (and not just confined to boys either).  But it also allows Tom to show his maturity and ability to find his way out of trouble when they are lost (and I think it is significant that the pair find their own way out - they are not rescued.)  Tom is able to find the opening and then persuade a despairing and hopeless Becky to rouse herself from impending death and follow him.  It's very well done indeed.  

But Becky herself is a very young girl and seen through the eyes of a 19th century man; she seems to me to be very typical of how people thought of female children, and not too far from how many of them are.  Her sudden jealousies, her miffedness are very typical of young girls.  And male protectiveness is still around (and can be very comforting). Becky is also a newcomer to the town and has no other friends much at this stage so there is no way for Twain to show her acting and reacting with others much.  I thought the way she played off Albert was really quite in character with both ber specifically and youngsters in general.  

Nowadays Tom's instant and continuing love for her seems odd, but I think the 19th century was a much more romantic age than ours.  Along with the repressed disciplinary attitudes, I have noticed in letters (especially war ones) a great ability to express their feelings very openly.  I think perhaps the idea that boys must feel disdain for love and feelings for girls might be a modern one.  I know in LM Montgormery's Anne books Gilbert falls in love with her at the age of about 11 and it's not shown as odd.

By the way I also found The Mandelbaum Gate and some Chekov when I went searching in our shed for the poor books which have been banished there awaiting shelves inside.  Just gives me more to read when I already have so much.

Cheers, Caro.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Evie
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 10:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that, Caro.

For me, with Becky and Tom, it just seemed a bit as though it didn't quite gel with the other things Tom did and felt.  But perhaps you are right, perhaps I am just looking too much through modern eyes.  Gilbert Blythe is quite a different sort of boy from Tom, and Anne was 13 when she arrived at the Cuthberts' home I think, which is young by today's standards, but as you say, not so much in those days.  A thought-provoking comparison - and if anything, Anne is more like Tom than Gilbert is!

I remember a film or TV series from my childhood of Tom Sawyer, but all I can really remember is the whitewashing scene - or maybe that's where my distorted memory of Tom and Injun Joe in the cave comes from...  It was a black and white film, might see if I can find it.

I understand too about claustrophobia and cave scenes - I would never go into a cave - perhaps that is why I felt Tom and Becky's fear to be quite real!


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Caro wrote:
Nowadays Tom's instant and continuing love for her seems odd, but I think the 19th century was a much more romantic age than ours.  Along with the repressed disciplinary attitudes, I have noticed in letters (especially war ones) a great ability to express their feelings very openly.  


Yes, I think I'd go along with that. And a related point is, I think, that Tom modelled himself on things read in adventure books, or heard about from others: this is where he gets all this stuff about pirates and robbers and so on. And in those adventure stories, the hero has to have a true love. And even if the hero were a pirate or a robber, he has nonetheless to be chivalrous to the ladies. Tom does his best to live up to the image.

I really ought tto read this again - if only to revive childhood memories. I'd be very curious to see how Twain integrates the comic scenes and anecdotes with a serious adventure story.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Evie
Site Admin


Joined: 24 Oct 2008
Posts: 3569


Location: Kenilworth, Warwickshire, UK

PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2010 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, that's a good way of explaining it, Himadri.  And the scene where he takes the blame for the teacher's torn book, which Becky has actually torn, is certainly evidence of chivalry!  And an even more poignant example is when he tries not to let her see how little of his candle is left in the cave.

My earlier comments about Tom's book-based fantasies actually coming true should have made me see his relationship with Becky in a more positive light.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2917


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 2:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have decided this is the rightest place to talk about Huckleberry Finn, or as right as I can find.  And it doesn't hurt to read more of what people in the past wrote on this board, rather than just adding to the monthly read.

I know this is considered a masterpiece but I found it quite difficult to read.  Mostly I think because Twain seemed to be using it as an instrument to beat his special bugbears with and that didn't always gel with the characters or the plot.  My edition was a Penguin one with a long intro by Peter someone.  (It has gone back to the bookclub so it is not easy to check these details.)  

That and the notes that came with the book seemed a bit disappointed with the ending which didn't bother me so much; I was more worried that Jim would be left thinking the treatment of him was all necessary and justified.  And no-one would know the truth of what happened.  

What bothered me most was the treatment of Jim at the end, and Huck's part in this.  I was somehow left with the impression that Huck was the leader in his relationship with Tom, so it was a bit of a surprise to find it was the other way round.  But even so, and even though I myself am usually easily led (though no-one has ever expected me to be led into bad things), I just found it unbelievable that Huck would let Tom treat Jim so appallingly.  I realise Twain was having a go at the romantic literature of the 19th century (and that was probably what he objected to in Jane Austen's writing - its gentility, not taking enough notice of its sharpness), but our group really found this very distasteful. Up till then, Huck was shown as having a conscience which was struggling with the Christian concept of hell and redemption, and his own growing sense of Jim's essential humanity.  

And I am not a great fan of adventure stories ever, but the middle passage with the duke and king seemed to go on forever, and needed a great suspension of belief on the readers' part, that everyone would be taken in by these pair of fraudsters, especially in a time when those sort of charlatans were common and people would have been on the lookout for them.  Huck realised early on, and his explanations for not reporting them were valid, especially for a boy of his age, but it's hard to imagine adults being taken in as they were, even allowing for them not having a wide experience of other outside people.

I just feel that Twain was playing with his readers a bit, and expecting them to play along with him. My notes did say the ending was wrong, but Twain did say that Huck didn't want to be "sivilized" and wouldn't take long to take to his raft or some other outsider adventure again. Two of us, me included, did wonder if that meant Twain was considering a further book of his adventures. The notes did mention that the boy Huck was modelled on went on to become a model citizen.



Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> 'A Good Read' - Big Readers' Version All times are GMT
Page Previous  1, 2
Page 2 of 2

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Card File  Gallery  Forum Archive
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group
Big Readers Theme by Mike Alexander
Based on Artemis by Vjacheslav Trushkin
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum