Mark Coburn, your response is overwhelming. You do me honor. I think.
One thing though, you say, "Putting sarcasm aside, anyone with a little
historical background realizes that standards of artistic quality cannot
be set in stone." I agree that tastes change and authors, artists,
musicians, and their works rise and fall in popular esteem, but
intrinsic Quality remains, in the words of Mortimer Adler, "whatever
anyone thinks about it, or whether anyone thinks about it at all." And
that Platonic idea may or may not have been what you were referring to
when you said, "You're a stuffy old ELITIST, Dick Ford. Why don't you
climb back in your cave?"
Huckleberry Finn may be a portrait of America, but it transcends
America, it transcends race issues, it transcends much of the rest of
Twain. It has a place in world literature.