Riding the Mark Twain is an acquired taste.
Elijah Wood decently narrates “Huckleberry Finn” with its southern dialects and ungrammatical syntax.
As Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) points out in his introduction, there is no deep meaning or underlying theme in the story of Huckleberry Finn; Twain advises readers or listeners “…they will be shot…” if they suggest otherwise. Clemens’s forewarning is why one approaches Twain like they are taking a journey with no particular destination in mind.
“Huckleberry Finn” is a 1200 mile trip down the Mississippi on a raft, from rural Illinois to points south. Along the way, a slave pursues freedom, Huck escapes an abusive father, two grifters bamboozle the public, and Tom Sawyer complicates everyone’s life.
Listening to “Huckleberry Finn” reveals rural life in the late 1800s with exaggeration and kernels of truth. The common use of the word “nigger” and the way white people treat slaves (as property) is colloquially exposed in “Huckleberry Finn”. The violence of feuds, misunderstandings, and mobs are the same today as they were back then.
There is a kind of joy (that acquired taste mentioned earlier) in experiencing the adventures of youth through the eyes and lives of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. These are boys that refuse to be bored by adventures offered by rivers, trees, islands, rafts, snakes, riverboats, and vagabonds. Today’s listener wonders if urbanization is destroying a part of what Huck Finn appreciated in his imagined life; the pure joy of living in nature’s moment.
Mark Twain’s stories make a reader or listener want to be in that place to see that landscape, ride that riverboat, or paddle that canoe. Experience the adventure; the price of admission is small.