In the case of Mark Twain, the fact of the matter is that we are more apt to accept the flaws in even his greatest works because the author stands behind them as an animated and amiable presence. That presence is often cagey, evasive, or antic, and his persona as Mark Twain is itself a mask. Nevertheless, in the author sometimes yields entirely to the voice and sensibility of its young narrator, and when that happens there is magic in the book. As often, when Twain is indignant or contemptuous, he speaks through other characters or works through sly subterfuge, having Huck describe events that may merely puzzle a boy who has no sense of humor much less an appetite for satire but that adult readers understand all too well.


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