Wretched Purple Prose in the Service of a Bad Cause

A few weeks ago, this author learned of a type of writing, prevalent in the southern United States in the first half of the nineteenth century,: Anti-Uncle Tom Literature. As you have learned from clicking on the link to the Wikipedia article on the subject, some of the slave owning southerners felt insulted by anyone pointing out that owning slaves offended God and human decency. Continue reading

Gadzookery 2: Is Mark Twain Guilty of an Anachronism?

Ed Roxburgh painted this for a great story based on a riverboat. See his bio in this website.

In a previous posting it was pointed out that Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer used the word “gay” as a superlative much in the same way as I used my favorite teenage superlative “bitchen”. Mark Twain wrote that book in 1876. Nine years later, Twain has the boys (and an old-timer) exclaiming “bully” and only once did anyone describe something great as, “gay”. Continue reading

Peter Pan Needs Magic; Tom Sawyer Has Imagination

Jackson Island in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer inspired Walt Disney’s creation of Tom Sawyer Island in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

In recent years pirates have invaded Tom Sawyer’s Island and left their mark.

Walt loved the book, and according to his brother, Roy, he and Walt once built a cardboard fort on a sandbar island (an aside: Marceline is just under one hundred miles from Hannibal and the Mississippi). Shortly after Disneyland opened in 1955, Walt personally and enthusiastically designed Tom Sawyer Island. One can only assume that Walt liked and admired Mark Twain’s imaginative boy. On the other hand, he had mixed feelings about J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. While the animated feature made money, Walt felt that the Neverland boy lacked warmth. He probably had other misgivings about the character, but the lack of warmth is the only quoted comment I’ve seen. Continue reading