6 Reasons 'Huck Finn' Is Not The Dusty Old Classic You Think It Is

January 2, 2015 2:09 PM

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If you read Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn back in high school, you were not alone: A 1992 report showed that 70 of all public school students, and 76 percent of all parochial students, were assigned Twain's classic. Few critics' lists of the 'greatest American novels' fail to cite it; few reporters describing its influence fail to quote Hemingway's famous claim that "all modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn."

A century of movies, cartoons, comic books, songs, and abridged editions have told Americans that Huck Finn is about how free and innocent childhood used to be. But there were gangs in Victorian America, school shootings, anxieties about children being exposed to violent pop culture. There were pare...

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