Those of you who have been following me for a while know my manifest delight in reading Twain usually (for those who don’t, see The Awful German Language and Tom Sawyer, Detective). This one, while still fun and adventurous, didn’t quite have the same effect. It had a lot more racial slurs (which I will not be repeating), and it was a story mostly made up of dialogue that filled the spaces on the way to things happening. (At this point my husband would raise a finger in the air about me being inconsistent; one of my main complaints about Austen’s Sense and Sensibility was that there was pretty much NO dialogue! Balance, I tell you! Balance!)
Also, a lot of the dialogue centers around Tom telling Huck and Jim how dumb they are. And, well, the whole just didn’t fill me with the glee that Tom Sawyer, Detective did.
Anyway, the gist of the story is that Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Jim (the black man they freed in Huckleberry Finn) find themselves flying across the world in a balloon of some kind (presumably something like a hot-air balloon). Most of the racial slurs involve Jim or the people they encounter while going across North Africa…
However, there were some perfectly hilarious parts to it. Here are some of them (misspellings Twain’s fault, not mine!):
- A conversation between Tom and Huck about why the Crusades were “necessary” (Tom is trying to tell Huck that they need to begin a crusade):
Tom: Why, can’t you understand? It’s [the Holy Land is] in the hands of the paynim, and it’s our duty to take it away from them.
Huck: How did we come to let them git hold of it?
Tom: We didn’t come to let them git hold of it. They always had it.
Huck: Why, Tom, then it must belong to them, don’t it?
Tom: Why, of course it does. Who said it didn’t?
Tom: This is religious!
Huck: Religious to go and take the land away from people that owns it?
Tom: Certainly; it’s always been considered so.
Uhhhh. Yeah. I tend to be just as confused as Huck by this one. The stupidity of religions sometimes…
- Tom calls Richard Coeur de Lion (Richard the Lionheart) “Richard Cur de Loon.” Hahaha. I laughed so hard.
- Huck gets mad because “maps lie”—that is, Illinois isn’t actually green, and Indiana isn’t actually pink (the coloring on maps that shows you where each state stops and start)… and that there aren’t actual lines of longitude on the earth. (Jim is horrified that time isn’t the same anywhere.)
- This goes along with the previous one (more of Huck’s ignorance): “All around us was a ring, where the sky and the water come together; yes, a monstrous big ring it was, and we right in the dead center of it—plumb in the center. We was racing along like a prairie fire, but it never made any difference…” (A pretty accurate picture of their worldview—they’re at the center of everything!)
- When Tom seems to be beaten in argument, he says that “as for people like me [Huck] and Jim, he’d just as soon have intellectual discourse with a catfish. But anybody can say that—and I notice they always do when somebody has fetched them a lifter.” What words of truth.
- This description: “It was a rattler, that caravan, and a most bully sight to look at next morning when the sun come a-streaming across the desert and flung the long shadders [shadows] of the camels on the gold sand like a thousand grand-daddy-long-legses marching in procession.”
- “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” This made me laugh because *sniff!* it’s soooo true!
The one other thing that cracked me up throughout the story was when Tom would “find” points of interest. Like, in Egypt, “This is the granary where Joseph stored up the grain and saved everyone from famine!” – despite the fact that there were dozens of ruined granaries around and he couldn’t possibly know which one it was, even if that particular one were still standing. Huck talked about it like, “I couldn’t believe how Tom could find things like that!” when of course he was making it up…
And all their arguments. Goodness. Someone needs to teach those boys something about logic! But I guess their stories wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining if they were logical…