Mark Twain and the Brazen Serpent

How Biblical Burlesque and Religious Satire Unify Huckleberry Finn


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SKU: 9781476668451 Categories: , , Tag:

About the Book

Focusing on the overarching theme of religious satire in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, this study reveals the novel’s hidden motive, moral and plot. The author considers generations of criticism spanning the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, along with new textual evidence showing how Twain’s richly evocative style dissects Huck’s conscience to propose humane amorality as a corrective to moral absolutes. Jim and Huck emerge as archetypal twins—biracial brothers who prefigure America’s color-blind ideals.

About the Author(s)

Doug Aldridge is a freelance writer and independent Mark Twain scholar who lives in Tennessee’s Blue Ridge Mountains. He welcomes comments and questions at

Bibliographic Details

Doug Aldridge
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 308
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6845-1
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2763-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction 9
One. Perspectives on Point of View: A Tale with Three Tellers 33
Two. Precedents for Viewing Huck Finn as Biblical Burlesque and Religious Satire 56
Three. Catching the Brazen Serpent in Clemens’ Net of Allusion: Huckleberry Finn, Paradise Lost, and the Bible 73
Four. To Vilify “the Ways of God to Men”: Huck Finn, Pilgrim’s Progress, The Inferno and Paradise Lost 117
Five. “Dark, ­Deep-Laid Plans”: The Evasion as Religious Satire 171
Six. Author-Real Intention: Huckleberry Finn as Religious Satire 203
Seven. Dancing with the Devil 235
Afterword: “Sam Clemens Arrives at the Pearly Gates: A Dialog between the Author and the Doorman” 255
Appendix A: The First Person Huckleberry Finn Chapter Titles 259
Appendix B: Pap Confronts Huck in Chapter V and Genesis 3: 9–24 261
Appendix C: Samuel Clemens’ Burlesque of Milton’s Hell 263
Appendix D: Awakening in Paradise 265
Appendix E: The Duke and the King Introduce Themselves 266
Appendix F: Huck’s “Great Debate” and Satan’s 267
Chapter Notes 273
Bibliography 283
Index 287