Call Boomerang Books 1300 36 33 32

Get Latest Book News + FREE Shipping. Subscribe to the Boomerang Books Bulletin eNewsletter right now!

Description - Was Huck Black? by Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Published in 1884, Huckleberry Finn has become one of the msot widely taught novels in American curricula. But where did it come from, and what made it so distinctive? Shelley Fisher Fishkin suggests that in Huckleberry Finn, more than any other work, Mark Twain let African-American voices, language, and rhetorical traditions play a major role in the creation of his art. In Was Huck Black? Fishkin combines close readings of published and unpublished writing by Twain with intensive biographical and historical research and insights gleaned from linguistics, literary theory, and folklore to shed new light on the role African-American voices played in the genesis of Huckleberry Finn. Given that book's importance in American culture, her analysis illuminates, as well, how African-American voices have shaped our sense of what is distinctively "American" about American literature. American literary historians have told a largely segregated story: white writers come from white literary ancestors, black writers from black ones. The truth is more complicated and more interesting. While African-American culture shaped Huckleberry Finn, that novel, in turn, helped shape African-American writing in the twentieth century. As Ralph Ellison commented in an interview with Fishkin, Twain "made it possible for many of us to find our own voices." Was Huck Black? dramatizes the crucial role of black voices in Twain's art, and takes the first steps beyond traditional cultural boundaries to unveil an American literary heritage that is infinitely richer and more complex than we had thoguht.

Buy Was Huck Black? by Shelley Fisher Fishkin from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.

Book Details

ISBN: 9780195089141
ISBN-10: 0195089146
Format: Paperback
(204mm x 136mm x 14mm)
Pages: 288
Imprint: Oxford University Press Inc
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Publish Date: 30-Jun-1994
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Was Huck Black? by Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Book Reviews - Was Huck Black? by Shelley Fisher Fishkin

US Kirkus Review » Direct, brief, well-informed, and polemical ("How will Americans respond to the news that Huck...was part black?"), Fishkin (American Studies/University of Texas, Austin) provides a questionable but dramatic genealogy of Huckleberry Finn's African-American ancestors as a gesture toward "desegregating" American literary history. Inspired by David Bradley's 1985 lecture, "The First 'Nigger' Novel," Fishkin argues that the prototypical American literary hero in what major writers have considered the archetypal American novel was based on a black child named Sociable Jimmy; that Twain's language ("raised to a level of literary eloquence," as Ralph Ellison said in 1970) is derived from African-American voices; and that his satirical social style was inspired by a black boy named Jerry whom he knew while still a child. But although Twain enjoyed black culture enough to appropriate it for his writings, he repressed the sources because, Fishkin says, he wanted to be respectable - and in the age of p.e. (of which this study is a monumental example), that makes Twain a hypocrite, a character-type that he himself found particularly contemptuous. To prove that an imaginary hero in a work of art (or even a popular commercial novel, as Huckleberry Finn was originally conceived) is multiracial, multicultural, even androgynous, would be to explain his perennial appeal. But Fishkin treats the novel and its lead character as a social commentary or textbook, referring often to its presentation in the classroom and shaping her argument for literary critics. Isolating Huck's African-American traits - some based on stereotypes, others uncovered through sophisticated linguistic analysis - seems to create its own form of segregation, to oversimplify a complex literary character, and to compromise the universality to which a wide range of authors (whom Fishkin quotes) have paid tribute - authors such as Ellison, Faulkner, Hemingway, Toni Morrison, and others, who claim to have learned their language and acquired their voices from Twain. In spite of the confused motives: an exhaustive and provocative work, already creating a stir. (Kirkus Reviews)

» Have you read this book? We'd like to know what you think about it - write a review about Was Huck Black? book by Shelley Fisher Fishkin and you'll earn 50c in Boomerang Bucks loyalty dollars (you must be a Boomerang Books Account Holder - it's free to sign up and there are great benefits!)

Write Review

Author Biography - Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Shelley Fisher Fishkin is Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas, Austin, and author of the award-winning book From Fact to Fiction: Journalism and Imaginative Writing in America. Her essays and reviews on American literature, American Studies, and issues of race and gender have appeared in publications including The New York Times, American Literature, American Literary History, and the Journal of American History. Professor Fishkin, who has lectured on her work in England, Israel, Europe, Mexico, and across the United States, was a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, 1992-1993.

Books By Shelley Fisher Fishkin

Writing America by Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Paperback, March 2017
Mark Twain's Book of Animals by Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Paperback, June 2011
Oxford Mark Twain by Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Paperback, February 2010
Feminist Engagements by Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Paperback, April 2009