Mark X : Who Killed Huck Finn’s Father? book cover
1st Edition

Mark X
Who Killed Huck Finn’s Father?

ISBN 9781138616752
Published June 8, 2018 by Routledge
246 Pages

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Book Description

In the summer of 1876, Mark Twain started to write Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a detective novel surrounding the murder of Huck’s father, Pap Finn. The case is unresolved in the novel as it exists today, but Twain had already planted the clue to the identity of the killer. It is not the various objects ostentatiously left around Pap’s naked body; they are not the foreground of the scene, but actually the background, against which a peculiar absence emerges distinctively—Pap’s boots, with a "cross" in one of the heels, are gone with his murderer.

The key to the mystery of Twain’s writings, as this book contends from a broader perspective, is also such an absence. Twain’s persistent reticence about the death of his father, especially the autopsy performed on his naked body, is a crucial clue to understanding his works. It reveals not only the reason why he aborted his vision of Huckleberry Finn as a detective novel, but also why, despite numerous undertakings, he failed to become a master of detective fiction.

Table of Contents

1. The Ur-Huckleberry Finn  The Naked Body and Boots  Here Is What Happened  2. Huckleberry Finn Redux  Tom Sawyer, Detective Corpse and Murderer  "Tom Sawyer’s Conspiracy" 3. "The Carnival of Crime" and Cadavers  Splitting The Forbidden Fruit 4. The Half-Brother and the Half-Breed  Tom the Apple Eater Tom the Scapegoat  Tom the Detective  5. The Cave  Joe the Scapegoat  The Cross in the Maze  6. Two Patricidal Stories  Pudd’nhead Wilson  A Double Barrelled Detective Story  7. The Oedipal Huckleberry Finn  The Two Chases  The Slain Snake  8. The Seven Year War  Maze in Europe  The Carnage  9. A Truce  Reinternalization of Conscience  Huck’s Deception  The Safe Return of the Repressed


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Yasuhiro Takeuchi is Professor of American Literature at Hokkaido University, in Sapporo, Japan. He is author of four books published in Japanese, on J.D. Salinger, Mark Twain, and a Japanese poet Misuzu Kaneko, and of scholarly articles published in American Literary Realism, Studies in the Novel, and Literary Imagination, among others. He is a recipient of the Young Scholar Award of the English Literary Society of Japan for his article (in Japanese) "Deciphering Poe."