Performing the Ending of Huck Finn

[The following excerpts from reviews of the Twins of Genius tour performances help us see how MT's contemporaries responded to the end of Huck Finn -- i.e. the "Evasion" as MT "read" it in live performances. I'm only including here the passages that refer explicitly to "Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer's Brilliant Achievement," which was the title MT gave the "Evasion" chapters in tour programs. There are other reviews which talk about how the "advance selections" from Huck Finn delighted audiences, but those "selections" could have been "King Sollermun" or something else instead. You can access the entire reviews from which these passages are taken by means of the schedule of performances.]
"The next selection was from 'Huckleberry Finn,' a kind of sequel to 'Tom Sawyer,' and which is not yet published. It related the troubles of two prankish boys who freed a slave imprisoned in an old cabin. There were a hundred ludicrous incidents in it, which could but stir the risibilities of a very appreciative audience. In his second call he continued the story of the boys' comical tricks and perplexities, which in spite of his inanimate recital, kept the hearers in a smile all the while he spoke." --
        from The Pittsburgh Dispatch, 30 December 1884

"In his next selection he read a chapter of his unpublished book 'Huckleberry Finn,' explaining how 'Huck' and 'Tom Sawyer' freed the runaway 'nigger,' which created roars of laughter." --
        from The (Cincinnati) Enquirer, 4 January 1885

"Perhaps the funniest thing of the evening was read by Mr. Clemens from the advance sheets of his new book, entitled 'Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer's Brilliant Achievement' in releasing the negro prisoner, Jim, from the log cabin where he is incarcerated. Mr. Clemens was encored and read 'Tom Bowlin's Encounter with the Governor of Massachusetts.'" --
        from The Minneapolis Tribune, 25 January 1885

"The story of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer's brilliant achievement in rescuing a negro captive who was imprisoned in a cabin on the farm of Huck's uncle, kept the audience in a constant roar of laughter, while the stuttering story was unique and highly amusing."--
        from The (Madison) Wisconsin State Journal, 28 January 1885

". . . Mr. Clemens convulsed the house with uncontrollable mirth. His account of the runaway slave's escape from the log cabin under the auspices of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn was irresistible." --
        from The Chicago Tribune, 3 February 1885

"Mark Twain was as funny as ever. His encounter with the newspaper interviewer, in which he broke down that redoubtable personage with his atrocious burlesques upon fact, put the audience in a mood to be tickled to death with the story of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in their arrangement of 'Jim's' escape from the cabin in accordance with the dramatic unities of history and romance . . ." --
        from The Indianapolis Journal, 8 February 1885

"['The gifted humorist'] then told the story of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer's brilliant achievement. Both were white boys. Tom's uncle had imprisoned Jim, a negro slave, in a log cabin for having run away. The boys visited Jim whenever they pleased, and could have released him by merely leaving the door open. But Tom had read of hairbreadth escapes from prison, and determined to get him out in the most elegant and romantic manner. They dug a hole under the cabin, sent him a rope ladder in a pie, and having read that noted prisoners always had pets in their solitude, brought him a large assortment of spiders, snakes and other reptiles and bugs. Fearing that his uncle's family was not taking enough interest in the matter to make it exciting, Tom wrote a series of anonymous letters, couched in blood-curdling language, which caused a reign of terror in the household. The last missive said: "A desperit gang ov cut-throats from Indian Territory will sneak down at mid-night to steal your runaway nigger. I am one of the gang, but I got religion." The result of this letter was that Tom's uncle had a number of armed men in readiness to prevent the escape. The boys were successful, however, and reached an island on the river, after Tom had received a bullet in his leg." --
        from The Philadelphia North American, 27 February 1885

"Mark Twain gave an account of 'Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer's Brilliant Achievement' in rescuing in romantic manner the slave Jim . . ."--
        from The Baltimore Sun, 28 February 1885


Homepage