Adventures of Tom Sawyer

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Hardcover, USA, 1st edition.

Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a novel written by Mark Twain and first published in 1876. It is the first book in the Tom Sawyer series, and was followed up by Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The book is set in the 1840s in a fictional Missouri town near the Mississippi River and follows the adventures of Tom Sawyer as he gets into mischief with his friends, including Huckleberry Finn. Twain explained that many of the adventures the boys have were real events that occurred to him or his friends in childhood.

Personal

Own?No
Read?Audiobook read by Patrick Fraley.
Finished2019-03-13

I read this book to better-familiarize myself with older American fiction.

The book is in the public domain.

Review

Overall:

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— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • Like many books from this era, it uses an extensive vocabulary. I wish more modern novels did this.
  • Twain uses a lot of clever wordings to make biting observations about hypocrisy and stupidity.
  • Tom, like many young boys, is extremely selfish about his feelings towards girls, and causes them all sorts of grief because of it. I found this to be quite realistic, and Tom sees the fallout because of it.

Bad

  • Most of the events of the story are rather dull, and those that are of significance are extremely difficult to believe.
  • At first, I was interested in reading about the silly superstitions of the time, but as they began to accumulate, to the point where everyone in the town was staggeringly superstitious, it became obnoxious. Very little attempt is made to teach any skepticism except possibly through their ignorance.
  • Twain's low-opinion of women is detailed further in the character of Becky who has little will of her own and is totally inconsequential to the story.
  • After witnessing a murder and the arrest of innocent man, the boys claim that it weighs heavy on their conscience, but Tom and Huck still manage to have all sorts of wonderfully fun adventures without so much as a second thought about it. I'm presuming Twain was pointing out how carefree the boys were, but that makes me like them less.
  • Tom and Huck encounter Joe so many times, each time less likely than the previous, it's difficult to suspend disbelief.
  • The parents let a bunch of unsupervised children wander around a huge cave system and don't even bother to take a headcount? Surely the people of the 1800s weren't this careless?
  • Joe's final fate is quite anti-climactic.

Ugly

  • There is a lot of bigotry in the book which is a sign of the times. While a lot of it doesn't bother me that much because they're mostly said through racist characters, I don't approve of the narrator being bigoted which is Twain's personal view. I dislike how he made the villain a Native American stereotype and referred to him as a "half-breed." There is also nearly an entire chapter dedicated to insulting the writing style of grade school girls.

Adaptions

The book has been adapted into several films, TV shows, theatre (plays, musicals, even a ballet), and comic books. It has also been turned into a video game twice as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Square's Tom Sawyer, which features some very racist imagery.

Links

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