The SFFaudio Podcast #729 – The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – read by John Greenman for Librivox. This is a complete and unabridged reading of the novel (6 hours 42 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants include Jesse, Paul Weimer, and Trish E. Matson.
Talked about on today’s show:
1876, conflating some with Huckleberry Finn, the whitewashing of the fence, the whole business with the caves, the pirate incident, pretending to be dead, the business with the graves, Injun Joe, why people thought they were dead, play pirate, engaged, bosom friend Joe, what’s with his cousin, Sid, half-brother, Aunt Polly, single parent families, Judge Thatcher’s wife, Huck’s dad, gone, because the civil war, pre-civil war, set in the 1840s, disease?, pirates?, re-written as a science fiction book, there’s no outside communication with big cities, time placement with technology, lucifer matches, middle ages tech, St. Petersburg, Missouri, newfangled, no slavery we can see, the absence of industry, so kid oriented, so kid focused, a traditional plotted book, a bildungsroman, a picaresque, Twain’s first novel, incidents, a memory of growing up in this place at that time, not plot driven, Hannibal, Missouri, a made up town, the Illinois shore, going downriver to Illinois, he’s not making a mistake, we are making some misunderstanding, I had eleven toes, the bottom right hand corner, a fictionalization of his geography, an island, a sandbar, detailed fantasy map, how the cave system works, karst topography, mid-19th century American stuff, Ballou’s Dollar Monthly, right after Poe and before Twain, Atlantic Monthly, contemporary fiction magazine, a bent towards the fun, An Adventure Under Ground by W.D. Harrington, blooming for the grave, a story about a treasure in a cave, afeared, no companion Huck Finn, a body that has been covered in limestone, almost Lovecraftian cosmicism, stalactite dripping, a robber completely covered in limestone, turned into a statue, externally fossilized, locked inside of a tomb of limestone, a waterfall, the treasure was the escape, The Beast In The Cave by H.P. Lovecraft, Becky Thatcher, turned into a troglodyte, a C.H.U.D.?, a ghoul, The “Minions Of The Moon” by George L. Aiken, highborn noblemen rapists, pirates vs. robbers, the red handed, why he has to keep going to church, foster mom, you have to be a nobleman to be a robber, ancient tropes from the penny dreadfuls, Robin Hood, a Saxon nobleman, a lowborn local hero, pirates raid the triangle trade, pirates of the Caribbean, ex-slaves, Our Flag Means Death, unrealistic fantasy elements, Stede Bonnet, the romanticism of piracy, be and do that, all the fantasies that Tom and Huck have, what we remember vs. the majority of the book, fantasies interrupted by real events, keeping the guns in the cave, haunted house, adult versions of Tom and Huck are evil, actual robbers, murderers, low class people, absolute pronouncements, he’s read the books, overhearing adults, getting engaged, what’s consistently proven, blood oaths, children always report on each other, Huck’s rich!, when the beans are spilled, when Sid rats him our several times, a tattletale, preying on his conscience, jailed unjustly, the trial scene, “stealthy” or “stealthily”, I stealthily left the river, an interpretation, hiding behind a log, making silent agreements, things that would upset stories, when the murder quarrel sprung up, graverobbing, hidden agendas, through Tom’s eyes, protecting their own, strange dynamics of adults, male adult role models, judges, a source of awe, the senator isn’t 25 feet tall, a prize for excellent trading, an excellent businessman, so Twain, we’ll draw a veil over the rest of this, the meta-materials, that blue covered bible, Gustave Dore, that book didn’t exist yet, pre-Civil War, Mart Twain was in the Civil War for a brief period, when you read Mark Twain, using these racist epithets, this is not a racist book, the low class people use the n word, nobody but an injun, everybody who listening to this, the lack of racism with regards to blacks, one half-breed in this book, he’s about to name Injun Joe as the murderer, escapes into the wilderness, revenge, free range, whatever, free ranging, greatly disappointed, she thought of him that way before, a hanging crime, testifying against a murderer, move towns and change your name, all sorts of crazy things we can’t imagine in our society today, missing kids, a known murderer escapes, casual and expected daily beatings of children, it is unbelievable, historical fact, if this were a fantasy novel, corporal punishment, distasteful as a reader, conflict, love, punishing for the good of his soul, spare the rod and spoil the child, Sid breaks the sugarbowl, refuses to apologize, her conscience reproached her, parallel with Becky, the noblest lie, George Washington and the cherry tree, how interesting Twain as a man is, Stephen King’s It, sympathizing with children, not a trauma book, the adventures of not the travails of, Tom has Agency, very 19th century thing, a politeness/impoliteness contest, if you cross this I’ll beat your head off, two soldiers confronting each other, two medieval knights, some random kid, equal contemporaries, is Huck Finn a little older?, how old are these boys?, a timeless age, not older than 12, his interest in Becky, a kiss, chivalrous love, no vestige of sexual attraction, a wife, girls are yucky, he’s too old for that, Tom gets it, Huck’s not there yet, what are girls good for, when you’re a high class robber, Huck Finn doesn’t hate that idea, when Becky and Tom are missing, they’ve run off to the cave to have sex, they’re dead, between 9 and 12, how much death is a part of life, orphans, drowned in the river, stabbed by a half-breed in the graveyard, he’s so funny, they trade everything, a rat on a string, you can swing it, weird superstitions, incantations, spells, step on crack you break your mother’s back, step on a line break your mother’s spine!, witches, pictures himself dead in great and loving detail, fantasize, when I’m dead people will appreciate me, part of the fantasy, I’ll show them!, coming back in the middle of the funeral, too strong a coincidence, bury a dead cat as a cure for warts, special spell, works great!, a kitten with one eye, my cat with one eye, a knife that doesn’t cut things, a doorknob, a piece of blue glass, I’ll trade you my tooth, if you were an alien, a little kid on the playground, getting clout, telling lies that could be true because they’re so authentic, complete lies all the time, not exactly hypocrisies, taking sweetmeats and apples is hooking vs. stealing a whole ham, piracy vs. stealing, what is going to keep Tom and Joe from becoming Injun Joe and the other guy, found dead, the whole town wanted him hung, they want to pardon him, eating bats and candles and dying of thirst, The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, black racism, the plot intrigue, figure out the throughline, the plot, the resolution, the description of how he’s died, the unspoken thing, the natives: where are they?, its sad but they were savages, a most horrible thing in this book, they don’t exist anymore, he’s not a specific kind of indian, what was the reason Nigger Jim left with Tom, he’s a runaway slave, Huck’s conscience torments him, that’s stealing from the owner, friendship or basic respect, a love story, a fellow human being, Hook vs. Huck, another pirate story with children, living in barrels, he’s Diogenes, living in a hog’s head, somebody adopts him, he’s a homeless kid who loves the lifestyle of being homeless, all the other kids admire and respect and wish they were him, he can swear and smoke, he doesn’t have to go to school or church, no chores!, grotesquely and lovingly described clothing, the seat of his pants is empty, ultimately respected, good at tricking people into doing things, the famous fence scene, completely free, he had to do this he had to do this, I’m way more free than he is, I have to have a job, he gets money from his parents, childhood psychology, fantasy reality, beautifully and classically, three or four sequels, Tom Sawyer, Detective, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, timelessness, anywhere and anywhen, he understands kids, one of the best books ever?, a very good book, so American, easy to fall into, completely immersive, Paul was a kid again, the world through Tom’s eyes, adult insights, “work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do”, a classic for sure, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a more “important” book, Huckleberry Finn has a greater standing, a mighty theme, Moby-Dick, autobiographical, To Kill A Mockingbird, white knighting, look at it in its time, rewrite the book, maybe it is wonderful, it’s not one groups job to not write a book so another group can, who is To Kill A Mockingbird for?, who was it written by?, written by a white lady for a white audience, it’s a movie for a white audience, a book (and a movie) with a message, the message is don’t be asshole, help people when you can, that weird metaphor, killing of a bird vs. killing a rabid dog, a symbol, we don’t have anything like that in this book, an axe to grind, it has a huge axe to grind, more adventurey, much more memory, there’s no growing up, how do you end a book about children: they grow up and get married, Tom Sawyer, Abroad, bringing his experiences to this book, fun and funny, appreciating it as an adult after reading it as a kid, too young for Paul?, quite to the contrary, go back and listen to it, four different comic adaptations, caught up in the fence painting scene, in the trailer, a very personal memory, health problems, a stroke, visiting the hospital, reading the whitewashing scene chapter, she was crying, feeling nostalgic?, it moved her, a generational book, shared thoughts and feelings, thematically less important, a cliche, a trope, reverse psychology, why it is so iconic, it’s the trope maker, a lot of classic literature is dreck that got carried over, considered every now and again, “careful, Jesse”, she hid these signs with a forced gaiety, what her sex call a “good cry”, some things humans have that other animals don’t: language, thoughts that can’t be formulated into words, infer she wants water, yes and no, we are not just talking communicating narrative characters, we are also animals, moved to tears in a positive way, a funny scene, hanging out with Mark Twain is just delightful, Mark Twain’s relationship with Dorothy Quick, old men and young girls, a special empathy, a young person who thought he was amazing, he is his own character, a transatlantic crossing, a correspondence for the rest of his life, what makes this book so special, he’s mighty good at what he’s doing here, a pretty good narration, Nick Offerman, Mark Nelson, Becky Thatcher is barely in the book, quasi-fantasy, a Jules Verne spoof, across Africa, a long great writing career, delightful to read, The Curious Republic of Gondour, Robert A. Heinlein, Missouri boys, Heinlein’s cute not funny, wrote a lot of juveniles, Heinlein’s juveniles are 13 to 20ish, an octagonal writing shed, a podcasting shed, soundproof it from the dogs cows and chickens, John Greenman is pretty good, first novel thought to be written on a typewriter, a printer’s apprentice, super-interested in technology, inventions, running out of money so he wrote books, Tom Sawyer Abroad by Huck Finn by Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer is three people I know, he’s Becky Thatcher as well, Mark Twain is not his real name, a pretty good job getting in Becky Thatcher’s head, the very sympathetic Aunt Polly, how she feels, punishing for the wrong reason, that logic holds, Mark Twain thinking as an adult, an empathetic guy, he would have been a great dad, a troublesome husband, two daughters, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court, Innocents Abroad, chunky, 25 hours!, how is this longer?, Grover Gardner, The Mysterious Stranger, what is existence really?, an unfinished collection, a supernatural character, No. 44, translated from the jug, The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, get Maissa or Evan.