Friday, September 02, 2005

Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

I thought I would give another Mark Twain book a go after enjoying Pudd’nhead Wilson so much. Tom Sawyer is one of Twain’s earlier books, apparently the sequel, Huckleberry Finn is the classic.

Reading Tom Sawyer you marvel at how fresh and timeless the writing is. It could have been published yesterday and you’d never know the novel is well over a hundred years old.
Twain’s prose has a lovely light touch. He dances through his fiction on his very tippy toes, doing modest little pirouettes here and there. I never thought of Twain as having a light touch, but he does.

The plot is all boys adventure stuff, and you sense what a great influence the character of Tom Sawyer has had on American culture. The scene of the whitewashed fence, where Tom manages to trick some youngsters into doing his work, reminded me so much of Bart Simpson. Plus there’s the American vernacular of that time. The word ‘bully’ kept on coming up, meaning, I guess, great or fantastic. It reminded me of Auntie Mame when she says to Mr Babcock, referring to his preferred schooling for young Patrick, ‘Well, bully for Bixby.’

I can’t say that I enjoyed Tom Sawyer as much as Pudd’nhead Wilson. Nevertheless, I’ll look forward to that classic Huckleberry Finn.

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