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From: Barbara Schmidt <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2002 11:47:34 -0600
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I am posting this review on behalf of Craig Milliman who wrote it.

-Barbara Schmidt


Twain, Mark and Stephen Stewart.  _Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Collaboration;
The Sequel to: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_.  New Mill Publishing, 2001.
 Pp. 296.  Hardcover. $26.95. ISBN 0-971-13350-6.

Reviewed for Mark Twain Forum by:
Craig Milliman
Fort Valley State University

Copyright (c) 2002 Mark Twain Forum. This review may not be published or
redistributed in any medium without permission.

Stephen Stewart should be admired for his courage in tackling this project,
if not for his literary skills.  Stewart reprints a few pages
(seventy-three) of Twain's draft for a sequel to _Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn_ ("Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer Among the Indians," previously published
by University of California Press) and grafts onto it a yarn that sends
Huck and Tom across the prairies, where they narrowly escape an Indian
massacre, to the mountains, where they attend the annual rendezvous of the
mountain men.  The novel is sometimes lyrical, occasionally funny, but
frequently confounding.

Confounding throughout are Stewart's attempts to imitate Twain's dialect
narration.  The charitable reader might suggest that while Twain writes
dialect for the ear, Stewart writes dialect for the eye. Twain, for
example, probably would not write "patients" for "patience" because the
pronunciations are indistinguishable.  Nor would he write "rondezvous" for
"rendezvous." Homophonic misspellings do nothing to advance the cause of
dialect narration, and they reveal a different sort of illiteracy than any
with which Twain ever saddled Huck.  Aside from the misspellings, Stewart's
Huck has somehow picked up the modern misuse of the apostrophe for forming
simple plurals.  He writes, for example, that big bore Hawken rifles are
necessary for "such large animals as the Buffalo's, and Bear's, and Elk's,
and Moose's."  There are sentence fragments aplenty, and not just in the
dialogue.  There are also a disconcerting number of commas and semicolons
sprinkled randomly through the pages, enough so that academic admirers of
Twain will probably begin to write "collaborations" on Pudd'head Wilson's
calendar entries and Twain's real and apocryphal aphorisms: "Use the right
punctuation mark, not its second cousin."  All of these flaws--none of them
found in Twain's original--add up to an amateurish imitation of Huck Finn's
endearing dialect narration.  In Twain we hear Huck's voice; in Stewart we
see his freshman writing.

Anachronisms abound.  Huck jokes about Istanbul, not Constantinople.  Brace
Johnson gets Huck and Tom's attention by calling out "you guys," though
Stewart forgets to use quotation marks.  Huck wonders about "Wicca;" Tom
and Huck nearly trick Jim into eating a bowl of maggots that he thinks is
actually a bowl of orzo.  Huck, obviously distracted by Peggy Mills'
breasts while describing what's for supper, stutters over Peggy's "nice
pair of,-- pair of, pair of . . . onions."  When a mountain man teaches
Huck and Tom how to stay alive in Indian country, Huck asks, "Is there
going to be a test on this?"  Huck says the Indians have an army song, and
"one about eagles that they called their air force song."  (They were
probably a band of H.G. Welles Sioux.)

Perhaps the most annoying feature of Stewart's book is his misuse of
familiar and beloved characters.  For example, Huck's "surrogate father,"
Jim, has a minor part in the sequel, but the fully human, caring runaway
slave of Huck's raft has been replaced by the ignorant darky of
_Huckleberry Finn_'s problematic ending.  Jim, whom Huck seems to forget
altogether for weeks at a time, is here reduced to the stereotypical
pre-raft and post-raft "nigger": He is no more human than the slave on whom
Huck and Tom play their tricks in the beginning of _Huckleberry Finn_ or
than the captured "runaway," who must spend long days locked in a
smokehouse while Tom plays out his elaborate--and completely
unnecessary--plan for Jim's "escape."  As the pre-raft Jim of the original
carries a "magic" hair ball from the stomach of an ox, the Jim of the
sequel carries a dried "rhinos" [sic] ear, which, Huck says, is "really
just "a sows [sic] ear we cut a cross in . . . [then] rotted in catfish
guts for a few weeks . . . . [then] sent to Jim in the mail . . . saying it
was from one of Jim's anzesters in Africa."  The pre- and post-raft Jim
might be superstitious enough to believe in the ear's power, but the Jim of
the raft, whose powers of critical thinking unraveled even the wisdom of
Solomon, would not likely believe that his African "anzesters" could locate
him in Missouri and mail the ear with a full set of user's instructions in
English for Tom Sawyer to read out.

Of course, believable characterization and character growth are two of the
most difficult aspects of the novelist's craft, and beginning by necessity
with characters created by another writer must magnify the difficulties.
Still, Twain scholars and admirers will be surprised at Huck's rather
sudden--and not at all endearing--loss of innocence.  Early in the novel,
Huck, Tom, and Jim throw in their lot with the Mills family, seven pioneers
from Missouri, who are awaiting the arrival of Brace Johnson,
seventeen-year-old Peggy Mills' fiancee, before heading for Oregon.  The
entire group befriends a band of five very Cooperesque Indians camped
nearby.  In Chapter 3, written by Twain, Huck and Tom lose all their new
friends and Jim to these same Indians, who wipe out the Mills family,
sparing only the nubile Peggy and her seven-year-old sister, Flaxy, whom
they kidnap along with Jim.  Twain's Huck (in Chapter 3) does not pass on
to the reader Tom's description of their friends' mutilated bodies because
"it would not do to put [it] in a book." Stewart's Jim later gives us a
detailed description, which Huck passes along without comment or apparent
qualms, of the repeated gang rape of a settler woman, Becky, by a band of
Indians.  Twain's Huck is baffled for several chapters by Brace Johnson's
sincere hope that his kidnapped fiancee, Peggy, is dead.  Huck has no
notions of a fate worse than death, and his innocence calls into question a
racist and sexist society's views on female chastity and value.  Stewart's
Huck later refers casually to the gang rape and near  the end of the
sequel, back in slaveholding Missouri, cheerfully plans a trip to a brothel
with Tom and Jim.  The loss of Huck's innocence is the real fate worse than
death in the sequel, because lost with it is the narrative dimension that
made _Adventures of Huckleberry Finn_ the seminal work it was.

There are some things to admire in this "collaboration."  For example,
Twain introduces Huck and Tom to a man selling lucifer matches.  Tom's
penchant for devilment induces him to buy not only the matches, but also
the flammable raw ingredients.  Stewart's Tom later incorporates the
matches, the raw materials, and Jim's rhino ear into a magical "dance" he
teaches the Indians. Stewart's description of Tom's planning and
performance is genuinely funny, and blamed if it don't sound like Huck Finn
hisself.  Much of the dialect does sound like Huck Finn, despite the many
lapses.  As Stewart's Huck, Tom, and Brace Johnson travel toward
rendezvous, Huck describes the plains and the mountains in passages that
approach the lyricism of Twain's Huck describing the natural world of the
raft.  Stewart's Huck hilariously deflates Cooperesque romanticism in
describing the Indian camp at rendezvous: The smell of the camp is "like a
stink bomb, which you couldn't see a-coming, so it was tear-jerking,
stifling, stark, and breathtaking, and choke provoking, and a real
gag-n-retch inspiring of the unpleasantest sort."  The Indians dance and
sing around the campfire, performing "It's A Shame We Didn't Kill Them; and
. . . as lovely a rendition of; Slaughter Thy Neighbor, as [Huck] ever
heard . . . followed by another, and maybe everybody's favorite, Sneak
Attack, which was very moving." Clearly, these are not Cooper Indians.

Deflating Cooper is funny, and one of the Twain reader's favorite spectator
sports.  There is, however, a heavy-handed, simplistic, and misguided
didacticism in this "collaboration," manifested in a singularly unrealistic
way.  Characters invented by Stewart deliver long speeches that one can
scarcely imagine from the pen of Mark Twain.  A black settler named "PJ's,"
for example, speechifies uninterrupted for nearly three pages; despite his
folksy, backwoods delivery, PJ's seems to have a late twentieth century
grasp of Native American and African American history. Later, in one of the
scenes that make this "collaboration" seem more like a  hijacking, Tom
Sawyer holds forth for four pages on such topics as "necromancy," "culture
diffusion," "contrariety born of fear," and "unsound magical beliefs of
insubstantial specious phantasms."  After Huck, clearly with his "class
participation" grade in mind, asks a question nearly as far out of
character as Tom's lecture, Tom continues for another page, utterly and
completely solving the entire Indian question. Incredibly, a group of
mountain men listen closely enough to ask questions afterward.

Tom's seminar is a good example of the unrealistic way in which Stewart
uses characters to teach his readers their lessons.   The scene rankles,
particularly because Twain's readers are unlikely to accept the insensitive

Tom Sawyer as the friend of the Native American.  In _Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn_, Tom toys with Jim's life to the end, endangering Jim,
Huck, and himself so he can spin out a plot borrowed from Dumas.  Not
incidentally, his fun keeps the emancipated Jim locked in a smokehouse; Tom
knows that Jim has been freed, but has no idea what freedom could mean to
Jim because he has no understanding of Jim as a human being.  In the sequel
he toys with the lives of the Indians.   The ghostly  "dance" Tom teaches
the Sioux at rendezvous seems well-intentioned, a device to draw the
endangered Plains tribes together, but like so many white programs for
"bettering" the people of the plains, it has, outside the novel, disastrous
results. Tom Sawyer seems to have all the answers, but Tom Sawyer never saw
the photographs from Wounded Knee, the corpses in their "magical"--and
supposedly  bulletproof--Ghost Dance shirts . . . .  Tom Sawyer turns up
like Little Big Man at a pivotal moment in Native American history to trick
the Plains Indians into following a religion that history tells us would
end in disillusionment and slaughter.  It is a sweeping irony, unimaginably
greater in scope than a freed slave locked in a smokehouse, yet it passes
without comment from the characters or the author, and Tom Sawyer's
seminar, which explains his motive for inventing the dance, does not at all
seem intended ironically. Is this irony, then, a Stewart blunder?  Or a
stroke of real, chilling genius?  The reader may choose.

Despite its flaws, this novel is not without interest for admirers of Mark
Twain.  Whether a few chapters of Twain are alone worth the price of
admission is arguable, but seventy-three pages of Twain's prose lay the
groundwork for a story that has moments of excitement, humor, and truth. Of
course, Mark Twain long ago attained the status of a national treasure, and
as many a First Lady has learned, redecorating a national treasure
invariably draws fire.  My own initial response to the sequel reminded me
of a famous British Hamlet who heard another voice accompanying him during
a "soliloquy" and looked down in the front row at the moving lips of Sir
Winston Churchill.  Every Hamlet knows he will be measured against Olivier,
Gielgud, Burton, and Jacobi, and Stewart will of course be measured against
Twain.  But if failing to reach Mark Twain's level of genius were a
flogging offense, who should escape whipping?